Stress is something we all have to deal with in some way. Someone in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction must be especially vigilant in coping with stress to avoid falling back into old habits of drinking or using drugs.
Healthy coping methods accelerate a return to calm as opposed to numbing feelings. Not every coping strategy will work for everyone. Find the ones that work for you and practice them regularly. We offer below nine healthy ways of coping with stress.
One of the oldest stress management techniques is meditation. It has been around for thousands of years. Meditating is an excellent way to reduce stress. It can be practiced anywhere without any equipment. If you want to learn to meditate effectively, find a form of meditation you like, such as mindfulness meditation, and start small. Try sitting and focusing on the breath for thirty seconds or two minutes instead of twenty or thirty minutes. If you need white noise or soft, calming music, use it. Over time, meditation lowers the baseline of anxiety and makes it easier to deal calmly with difficult situations.
A great way to deal with stress is through creative self-expression. The medium you use does not matter. Whether you paint, sing, write, play music, or dance, the focus on creating something unique and personal can give you perspective and help release tension. When you focus on the creative process rather than the product, you’ll start to feel calm, balanced, and in control.
During stress, the body automatically goes into the fight-or-flight response and releases increased amounts of cortisol and adrenaline as it prepares for action. Physical activity helps to process these extra stress hormones so that the body can return to a relaxed, calm state. Regular exercise strengthens the body, increases concentration, improves mood, and enhances self-esteem. During exercise, the brain releases neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine that produce pleasurable feelings. If you’re easily bored with exercise, switch your activities, try new things, and find a partner or group to join you. Try to exercise three to five times a week for at least thirty minutes, doing things you enjoy.
Practicing yoga cultivates a focus on slow, deep breathing and a connection between body, mind, and spirit. Practicing yoga decreases stress, relieves physical tension, promotes restful sleep, and fosters a serene feeling of inner balance.
By learning breathing techniques, you can reduce stress and improve your mood. Breathing slowly and deeply sends more oxygen to your muscles and relieves muscle tension. When the tension eases, you feel calmer. Deep breathing, focused breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation are examples of breathing techniques that reduce stress.
Journaling can help you deal with your emotions and reduce stress. It forces you to slow down your thinking and sort out your thoughts. Seeing your thoughts and feelings on paper (or screen) allows you to understand them clearly. It helps you deal with them more quickly and efficiently.
Spending time in nature is a good way to disconnect from a situation. By going outside you can mentally and physically distance yourself from what is bothering you. Being in nature has a calming effect on the mind and nervous system, helping you feel at ease and grounded. Whether you work in your garden, hike in the mountains, walk in the park, or sit by the ocean, connecting with nature helps regulate emotions and foster feelings of well-being.
Going for a scenic drive is a great way to reduce stress. Whether you drive out in the country, along the coast, or through the mountains, a change of scenery can be very relaxing. Listen to your favorite music and enjoy the beauty of nature as you clear your head and calm down.
Are You Struggling Alone?
Drug or alcohol addiction is a chronic brain disease. It can happen to anyone. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or feeling in danger of relapse, now is the time to get the help you need. The professional staff at Anabranch Recovery Center, located in Terre Haute, Indiana, will provide you with the treatment you need. Getting the correct treatment is critical for long-term recovery. Take the first step to recovery. Call us today.
About the Author:
Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.