How to Cope With Stress Without Using Drugs and Alcohol
Like many other people, you’re probably dealing with stress from things like financial worries, work pressures, and relationship problems. If you’ve been using alcohol and drugs to deal with stress, you probably wonder how you’ll cope now that you’re in recovery. There are many other ways to cope without alcohol and drugs, from meditating quietly to increasing your physical activity. Developing some new coping skills before stress hits will make you better able to handle it without creating a dependence on alcohol or drugs.
Healthy Ways People in Recovery Can Effectively Cope with Stress
Mental and emotional stress can cause physical distress, researchers have found. When you’re consumed with worry about things like work, money, or just everyday life, the body releases stress hormones because it thinks you’re in danger – the ancient “fight or flight” response. You could start breathing hard and sweating. Over time this can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, anxiety, and even addiction.
It’s essential to learn how to handle stress during your addiction treatment. Here’s how you can cope without resorting to alcohol or drugs:
1. Use relaxation techniques
Calm your mind by relaxing your body. Get in a comfortable position, close your eyes and breathe deeply through your nose while counting to three; exhale at a normal rate normally through your mouth. The counting is crucial because it makes it hard to think about what’s worrying you. You can do this exercise when you’re driving; don’t close your eyes, of course.
2. Practice mindfulness
Worrying entails wondering about things that happened in your past or might happen in your future. Practicing mindfulness keeps you in the present, which is the only time you can control. Focus on the here and now with the 5-4-3-2-1-countdown, which involves each of your five senses. Think of five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
3. Get physical
Do you feel your body tightening up with worry? Release the tension by running, doing aerobics, dancing – anything that gets you moving. One good choice is yoga, which has been found to reduce anxiety by increasing the brain’s supply of a neurotransmitter that helps relaxation. Whatever you choose, be sure it’s an activity you enjoy. Not only will you be more likely to do it, but it’ll make you feel good with no morning-after guilt from trying to drown your stress using booze or drugs.
4. Practice a new hobby
Find something you enjoy and get involved with it. Anything that occupies your mind will build your coping skills, but something that occupies your hands is especially good. Painting, writing, building models, or scrapbooking is a satisfying outlet, and it’s easy to grab your tools and get to work when you feel the stress building.
5. Listen to music
It’s another great way to relax or to shift your focus. Put on your favorite turn or style of music, or sit in a comfortable spot and listen to nature sounds like waterfalls, bird songs, or the calls of humpback whales.
6. Keep a gratitude journal
Writing down the good things in your life helps you move away from resentments and fears that cause mental and emotional stress.
7. Create a worry journal
Don’t ignore your fears and hope they’ll go away. Confront them and reduce their power over you by writing them down. Seeing your thoughts and emotions on paper can help you to deal with them more quickly.
8. Develop a strong support network with others in recovery
Don’t go it alone. Talking about your stress with others who understand what you’re going through is another way of controlling the power your anxiety has over you. Peer support is essential to your addiction recovery. Find a group that has your back.
Everyone needs help in dealing with their addiction, even long after you begin your recovery. If you need help building your coping skills without alcohol or drugs or require alcohol or drug rehab, contact Muse Treatment at 800-426-1818 today.