Unfortunately, stress is an unavoidable and even normal part of life, including a sober one. Some of the stressors I experienced were looking for a new job, money worries, health worries, and relationship conflicts. Stress can be a trigger for any type of addiction, because we are looking to escape from it. To further complicate matters, research shows that the brains of addicts are more sensitive, leading us to relapse faster.
Are you in danger?
The effects of stress on our bodies is complex, and poorly managed stress can lead us into self-medicating. However, by being aware of the signs of stress and listening to your body, you can avoid making that mistake. Take note of the following physical symptoms that can develop during periods of stress:
- Short Temper
- Memory Problems
- Lack of Concentration
- Increased Number of Colds
- Lack of appetite or overeating
- Chest Pains
- Rapid Heartbeat
- Dry Mouth
- Upset Stomach
- Neck or Back Pain
- Muscle Tension
During recovery, especially early recovery, we find ourselves adjusting to a brand new way of life. Consider the five points below when you are under stress:
- Time Management - It is essential to manage our time, especially for the first 90 days of our recovery, because that is the time we are most likely to relapse. Upon the advice of my therapist, I did not over schedule myself either. Setting the bar too high and then failing to reach all of my objectives would be another source of stress. Instead, I started with one or two things a day, beginning with the most important things such as 12-step meetings and seeing my therapist. It was also a good idea to build some extra time into my calendar for when things went wrong. And they did, several times. That's why I chose to be prepared.
- Let It Out - It is important to release any pent-up emotions, which otherwise lead to frustration and stress. You can talk to anyone you trust, like a therapist, friend, family member or doctor, for example. I found that I need to release my emotions daily, and, so, I began a journal. It helps me to clear my mind and focus on solving any problems. Journaling allows me to release negative emotions and make room for positive thoughts.
- Identify my Stressors - Knowing what my particular stressors are has proven to be very useful. A work deadline or being late for any event or appointment were two of mine. I learned to get around these obstacles by starting work earlier and going to sleep 15 minutes earlier.
- Sleep - The average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep, and when I get that sleep, I feel I can better manage my stress and elevate my mood. If you suffer from insomnia, consult with your general practitioner.
- Choose a Better Activity - Make a list of all sorts of things you like to do or are interested in learning. When stress strikes, go to your list and select something positive to do, like dancing, exercising, reading, baking, gardening, crafting, seeing a movie, etc. Doing this has helped me to calm down, get my mind off of whatever is bothering me, and respond to that stress in a more constructive way.
Stress is different for all of us. I found that I had to exercise trial and error to find the right fit of ideas just for me. Take your time, practice, and be patient with yourself, and you will discover what works for you.
The Anaheim Lighthouse is a modern and effective drug and alcohol addiction treatment center in Southern California. To speak with one of our intake advisors about treatment options at our affordable drug and alcohol rehab that fit your needs, call (844) 494-4939.