Statistics show that 70% of people struggling to overcome their drinking addiction usually relapse. So, what causes them to fail and start consuming alcohol again? A study shows that stress makes most alcoholics relapse. Not just alcohol but people suffering from drug abuse are also overwhelmed by stress. It makes them incapable of fighting withdrawal symptoms and eventually give in to their urges.
Now, you cannot eliminate stress, but you can learn to control/regulate it. Therefore, coping with stress helps you recover quickly and maintain sobriety for a long time. So, which strategies do experts recommend to fight recovery stress? Here, we’ll mention some well-tested methods to combat stress while overcoming your addiction.
11 tips for dealing with stress while recovering
What causes people to experience stress? It originates from several sources, including uncertainty about the future, domestic/workplace conflicts, financial problems, and other reasons. For instance – during the ongoing pandemic – people are stressed about not being able to visit their friends/family. And stress manifests itself through different symptoms, including fatigue, insomnia, headaches, irritability, and breathing problems.
Patients also undergo tremors, sweating, and heart palpitations while they suffer from stress. It can lead them to crave the substance of choice more often as well. So, we’ve listed some methods to help you cope with your stress and remain abstinent during the process of recovery:
- Get professional help
First and foremost, get some medical assistance from professionals when your stress meddles with recovery. Don’t allow declining mental health to make you relapse and return to your previous addiction. A viable option is to approach a top-notch rehab center that offers treatments and therapies catered to your specific condition. They will help you detox from drug/alcohol abuse while managing your stress effectively. Getting into rehab allows many addicts to recover from such deteriorating habits successfully.
- Talk to a friend
Maintaining contact with your friends/family helps you share problems with them. Thus, speak with people who are supportive and motivate you to overcome your addiction. Today, we have apps that help us remain in contact with each other. So, leverage Skype and FaceTime for reaching out to your confidants whenever stress makes you feel lonely. We suggest seeking online counseling services as well to communicate with professionals. Dealing with this stress on your own isn’t healthy.
- Remain positive
Stress makes you feel entrapped by negative thoughts. So, practice positive self-talking in which you motivate yourself by focusing on positive emotions. Negative emotions – on the other hand – keep you paranoid, always expecting the worst outcome while spiraling down the rabbit hole. Thus, it’s essential to replace all this negativity with positive thinking. A person can often serve as their best coach. Encourage yourself to remain optimistic and feel confident about your recovery.
- Try journaling
Jotting down your emotions in a notebook (or your laptop) can make you feel relaxed. Many people have found journaling to be an effective method for dealing with stress. You can write about different subjects, e.g., your triggers, things you’ve learned during recovery, and suggestions given to you by a counselor/therapist. People who write down traumatic experiences witness reduced stress levels after few days.
- Start meditating
Several meditation techniques can help you overcome stress efficiently. Nonetheless, you can experiment with mindfulness meditation exercises or Indian variants, e.g., kundalini yoga. Then we have energy healing exercises for improving one’s mental and physical well-being. These practices increase your self-awareness, reduce negative emotions, and help you control stress levels. So, start meditating whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed by triggers.
- Consume healthily
Consuming healthy and nutritious meals can de-stress a person and help them recover from this stress. So, eat/drink nutrition-rich and energy-increasing stuff to maintain your mental and physical well-being. Also, stay away from smoking, drinking, or consuming processed food. Eating healthy will save you from stress/panic attacks while ensuring the proper functioning of your entire body.
- Exercise regularly
Even if you’re not stressed, don’t underestimate the importance of regular exercise. It helps boost health – both mental and physical – that contributes to reduced stress levels. A routine workout can improve your physical fitness while stimulating the release of hormones that keep you delighted. Exercise doesn’t just decrease one’s stress, but it also reduces fatigue and increases concentration. You can boost your self-esteem by working out and feel more motivated to recover.
- Sleep peacefully
As mentioned before, insomnia constitutes one symptom of stress during sobriety. A person getting insufficient sleep remains restless, which can further worsen their mental health. Therefore, resting peacefully daily (some 7-8 hours for adults) will improve your psychological stability. Combating insomnia and other symptoms helps you overcome stress/anxiety and retrieve peace of mind. Also, improve your sleep pattern by avoiding screen time right before you go to bed.
- Listen to music
Experts have discovered a unique connection between listening to music and feeling happy. When a person listens to their favorite music, it stimulates the release of dopamine to the brain. Additionally, research proves that music can reduce stress/anxiety up to 65% among listeners. It serves as a pleasant and soothing distraction from your thoughts and worries. So, when your triggers let you down emotionally, just put on your headphones and start jamming to your favorite tunes.
- Appreciate nature
Spending time with nature helps your mind relax and overcome the feelings of stress/anxiety. When you’re walking in the shade of trees or tending to your garden, it makes you feel spiritually elevated and psychologically tranquil. The mere proximity with water, greenery, or anything natural is healthy for people trying to remain sober. That’s why we recommend taking up gardening as a hobby during your recovery session. It’ll enable you to forget your triggers and focus on healthier pursuits.
- Avoid caffeine
Excessively consuming caffeinated beverages isn’t healthy for a person recovering from an addiction. Thus, we suggest you cut back on tea, soda, coffee, energy drinks, and other products containing caffeine. Drinking these liquids makes one jittery, nervous, and significantly “tweaked up.” If the side-effects of caffeine are making your stress uncontrollable, stop consuming it until your recovery ends. Replace caffeinated beverages with milkshakes and smoothies.
The bottom line
Addictions aren’t uncommon. A report published in 2015 showed that almost 10% of Americans have suffered from drug abuse somewhere during their lifetimes. Unfortunately, merely one-third of them were receiving treatment for these cravings. But treatment facilities don’t just help you overcome addictions; they also manage the stress that comes along with it. NIDA has warned people in recovery not to let internal/external stress trigger relapse and nullify healing. So, don’t forget to get support, consume nutritious meals, and exercise properly to overcome stress/anxiety. You can also listen to music or start journaling to maintain a positive attitude. Hence, dealing with stress helps you remain sober.