Coping with Stress in Recovery
Stress is simply a part of life that we can not ignore. When we get sober, coping with stress is one of the many life skills we get to work on. As recovering individuals, our lives are filled with change. The obvious dramatic transition we make into sobriety can make many of us feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Some of us never learned how to deal with stressful situations in the first place. For many of us, getting too overwhelmed only contributed to the problem. Whatever the case may be, coping with stress is a valuable tool to familiarize ourselves with early on in recovery.
It’s near impossible to completely eliminate stress from our lives, but there are constructive ways we can learn to deal with it. In order to properly cope we have to first understand what being stressed out looks and feels like. Our addiction kept us blocked off from common feelings and emotions. Stuffing our feelings only made matters worse. Our issues piled up causing us to become resentful and afraid. In sobriety, we must learn how to identify emotions so that we can take the necessary action to change.
There are a few signs to look for that might mean you or someone you care about is overstressed:
Having trouble remembering things, finding it hard to concentrate and negative thinking.
Becoming moody, irritable, or agitated at the slightest change.
Feeling lonely, isolated, or just generally unhappy.
Experiencing a variety of physical discomforts like aches and pains, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, or frequent colds.
Changes in eating and sleeping habits.
Any or all of these things can mean that you’re stressed out. Watch for these feelings within yourself, and watch for attitude changes in your sober supports. We can usually spot these behaviors in our peers before we see them in ourselves. This is one of the many reasons why developing sober friendships or a support network is imperative in recovery. Your peers, who know you well, will be able to point out situations or particular moments when you seem to be out of sorts. From there, with the help of others, you can do what it takes to properly deal with whatever the stress may be.
When a stressful situation becomes painful enough, we then become ready and willing to do something to change it. We will seek different solutions, or ways to handle life. Learning how to deal with stress in a healthy way is an important, fundamental life skill for one's peace of mind and serenity in recovery. Start by identifying what is causing the stress in your life. Next, look at how you are dealing with the particular problem or situation that is causing tension. Are you withdrawing from loved ones, sober supports or your sponsor? Are you taking out your stress on someone else by getting angry and resentful? Are you constantly on edge and living in fear?
Stress Solutions: Tips and Techniques for Handling Stress
The following is a list of stress release/relief suggestions:
Avoid unnecessary stress by learning to say “no,” or cutting down your to-do list.
Change stressful situations by expressing your feelings instead of keeping them inside, compromise or using better time management.
Practice acceptance, and forgiveness. Really let go of the things you can not control.
Always make time for fun and relaxation. Have time in your weekly schedule for your favorite activities. Unwind by taking a warm bubble bath, going to a yoga class, working out at the gym, taking a walk, or taking a nap.
Make your living situation conducive to your recovery. Your living environment can have a direct influence on your attitude and outlook on life.
Attend 12 step meetings, participate in the discussion, and interact with the fellowship in the “meeting after the meeting.” Learning how to cope with stress plays an important part in recovery. Utilizing these techniques will help us cope with stress.
Recovery is full of challenges and opportunities for growth. When we look at stressful situations from this perspective, our troubles take on a whole new meaning. We are then able to embrace new experiences and do something different for this moment, which in turn evokes growth and change within.