Stress Management in Recovery
No matter what, everyone deals with stress. Even people who’ve never had to deal with the specific challenges that come with a substance use disorder will eventually find themselves facing relationship problems, career difficulties, financial worries, or health concerns.
While stressful situations are an unavoidable part of life, you have the power to control how you respond. Instead of giving up, avoiding dealing with the problem, or turning to addictive substances for comfort, you can choose to face your stress in a healthy way as you continue to move forward in your recovery journey.
Stress in Recovery: Setting Yourself Up for Success
At Waypoint Recovery Center, we encourage our clients to work toward building the habits that are the foundation of a wellness-focused lifestyle. These habits help you reduce stress in your life by ensuring that your body has the resources it needs to function at an optimal level.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. When you’re tired, it’s hard to problem-solve effectively—which makes minor obstacles seem insurmountable. Stick to a consistent bedtime routine and strive to get a full eight hours of sleep per night.
- Eat balanced meals. Maintaining a healthy diet with a balance of whole grains, lean proteins, and fresh fruits and vegetables gives your body the fuel it needs to get through the day while keeping your blood sugar levels stable. This helps you avoid the mid-afternoon crash that can exacerbate feelings of stress.
- Keep your body moving. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins, but you don’t need to participate in organized sports if that’s not your thing. Even something as simple as regularly going for a walk after dinner can help lower your overall stress levels. Consider getting a Fitbit or other similar fitness tracker for a wearable reminder of the importance of working physical activity into your daily routine.
Dealing With Stress in the Moment
Of course, being in good health doesn’t remove all stress from your life—it just helps you cope with stress more effectively. When you’re currently facing a stressful situation, here are some tips to consider:
- Disconnect from social media and other sources of negativity in your life. Don’t let the negative thoughts of others distract you and ruin your mood. A digital detox—even when it’s only temporary—lets you put your mental health first.
- Head outside. Multiple studies have shown that spending time in nature can have a calming effect. Plan a picnic in the park, work in your garden, go for a bike ride, or simply enjoy a beautiful sunset while listening to your favorite music.
- Meditate. Mindfulness meditation has immediate stress-relieving benefits. Find a quiet space, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. When your mind starts to wander, gently bring your focus back to your breath. Keep going until you feel the tension start to fade from your body and your emotions come back into balance.
- Write in your journal. When you’re facing a difficult situation, writing in your journal can help you organize your thoughts and think about the problem more objectively. If you’ve been journaling for an extended period of time, reviewing past journal entries may also help you come up with effective ways to deal with the source of your current stress.
- Talk to a friend. Confiding in a friend you trust can help you feel less alone in your struggles. Your friend may also have insights that can help you deal with the underlying issues that are contributing to your stress.
- Make time for hobbies you enjoy. Spending time engaged in a favorite activity such as painting, woodworking, or putting together jigsaw puzzles can help you avoid the rumination that contributes to increased feelings of stress. Hobbies also promote confidence and self-esteem, which can leave you feeling better equipped to tackle the source of your stress.
- Turn to your faith. Praying, attending worship services, or speaking to your spiritual leader can be a great source of comfort during times of stress. Relying on your faith can be especially helpful when the source of your stress is a situation that is largely beyond your control, such as when you’re worried about a loved one’s illness.
Help Is Available
When stress is triggering cravings that are hard to manage, don’t be afraid to reach out to your care team for support. We encourage graduates of our South Carolina residential addiction treatment center to make full use of our continuing care/recovery management services when they are making the transition back to independent living. Let us help you find the resources you need to be successful as you work towards building a future free from the burden of addiction.