Managing Stress During Addiction Recovery
Addiction recovery is not easy. It’s a journey fraught with many challenges, and that’s why one of the major battles faced by those on the road to recovery is stress. Stress and addiction recovery are inseparable. That’s why you need to know how to handle both. How do you do that?
The Critical Relationship Between Stress and Addiction Recovery
Managing stress is an essential component of addiction recovery. That’s because stress can be a trigger for relapse. This is especially true if you also have an underlying mental disorder such as anxiety or depression.
For most people on the path to recovery, the path of least resistance when faced with a stressful situation is to find a fast way to feel good. In most cases, that means using the substance they’re trying to break free from. You must be able to understand how your body responds to stress and proactively manage your stress.
The Effect of Stress on the Body
Stress affects your body in several ways. While some of those ways are easily noticeable, others are subtle. However, no matter the cause, stress has some adverse effects on your body. The most common ways stress affects your body is by causing:
- The release of stress hormones—adrenaline and cortisol—from your adrenal glands.
- An increase in blood sugar levels.
- High blood pressure.
- Rapid heartbeat.
All these have a bearing on your physical health and mental well-being. For those on the path to addiction recovery, the ramifications are greater, as it could lead to relapse.
Stress and Addiction Recovery—9 Ways to Cope
While it’s impossible to avoid or run away from stressful situations, there are some techniques you can employ to cope with them. Here are nine ways to help you handle stressful periods on your journey to recovery:
1. Be Mindful of Stress Triggers
One of the first steps to dealing with stress is knowing what triggers your stress. Being mindful of what triggers your anxiety is crucial, as it helps you avoid stress triggers. If you can’t avoid them, it enables you to manage them.
2. Find a Hobby
Picking up a hobby has many benefits relating to overcoming stress. For one, it helps you keep your mind and body busy. As a result, you don’t focus on the things that steal your peace.
A hobby is also a great way of encouraging eustress. Eustress is the healthy kind of stress that keeps life exciting and meaningful.
3. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is a great way to keep physically and mentally fit. It’s also a great way to combat stress. That’s because exercise helps reduce the levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Exercise also increases endorphin levels. These are chemicals in the brain that act as painkillers and mood elevators.
4. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Another important aspect of combating stress is to maintain a nutritious diet. This will help you maintain optimum energy levels. A healthy diet is also crucial to improving your mood.
5. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep plays an essential role in the way we function physically and psychologically. A lack of sleep is unhealthy, as it results in a weak immune system, poor cognition, and foul moods. All three are exactly what you don’t need when dealing with stress and addiction recovery. On the other hand, getting enough sleep ensures that your mind and body are fully “recharged” and are better equipped to combat stress.
6. Breathing Exercises
As simple as it may sound, breathing exercises are a great way to reduce your stress levels. When stressed, get comfortable and take some deep breaths. Doing so sends a message to your brain that it’s time to cut the “fight-or-flight” response needed in stressful situations. Deep breathing helps the body enter a state of calm and relaxation.
7. Practice Meditation
Setting aside time every day to meditate is another way you can deal with stress. Find a quiet place and reflect on all the positive things in your life. You can also use that time to reflect on how far you have come on your journey to recovery and what you have achieved.
8. Spend Time with Mother Nature
Research shows that spending time in nature helps relax the mind. It also reduces tension in the muscles. Being in nature—or even viewing scenes of nature—is therapeutic and helps reduce blood pressure, anxiety, and high blood pressure. It’s vital to maintaining emotional balance and physical well-being.
9. Get Professional Help
Sometimes the stresses of life can be so overwhelming it’s difficult to handle them on your own. In such situations, you must get professional help. This can be in the form of a religious or secular counselor or a therapist. An experienced mental health practitioner will help you identify situations and behaviors that contribute to your stress. They’ll also help you develop an action plan to help manage these.
If you, or a loved one, find it difficult to handle stress and addiction recovery, get in touch with Yellowstone Recovery at (888) 418-4188. We’ll be more than happy to help you get back on your feet.