If there’s one thing that can test the strength of your sobriety, it’s stress. Emotional and mental stress can make it difficult to follow through with routine responsibilities to your family, friends, and employer. Physical stress like pain or an injury may add a deeper element that challenges your commitment to addiction recovery.
You can’t eliminate stress from your life, but there are five ways you can manage it more efficiently. Here’s one quick tip to get you started: controlling your reaction to stressful circumstances can lead to instant relief and is far more effective than trying to find a quick fix for a long-term problem or a situation that is out of your control.
1. Spend time with yourself every day.
Staying in touch with your deeper emotions and thoughts can help you react in a more positive manner when stressful situations arise. Commit to doing one or more of the following for up to an hour every morning or just before bed:
- Journaling – Get a pen and paper or open a blank document on your computer, and simply start writing whatever comes to mind. You can set a timer and challenge yourself to keep writing until your time is up or write two to three pages daily. As you write, you will focus on what’s stressing you out and on your deeper thoughts that often go unacknowledged in daily life. You will start to solve problems and stumble upon powerful realizations if you’re consistent in your journaling.
- Guided Meditation – Research has found that mindful meditation eases psychological stress. Depression and anxiety are symptoms of that type of stress and can easily set in during the addiction recovery process. The easiest way to start meditating is to find a guided meditation soundtrack or download an app or podcast that offers meditation tracks. Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes and focus your mind on the track.
- Gratitude Journaling – Write down five or more things that you’re thankful for each day. You can add that into your journaling practice or just do it on your phone when you have a few minutes to spare during your day. Focusing your mind on the blessings in your life will help you maintain a more positive mindset.
2. Make your sleep routine a habit.
When you look into the correlation between sleep habits and stress, the following facts stick out:
- Sleeping an extra 60-90 minutes per night would make most Americans healthier and happier.
- Many Americans report feeling more stressed when the length or quality of their sleep decreases.
- Americans report feeling even more stressed if they don’t get enough sleep during stressful times.
- The side effects of sleep deprivation can mimic signs of extreme stress, including irritability, fatigue and lack of motivation
Have you heard of the sleep-stress cycle? It’s a cycle in which stress interferes with sleep, and then inadequate sleep leads to more stress, which makes it even harder to sleep. You can break the cycle and control your stress by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Yes, that includes weekends. Make sure your schedule allows you to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
3. Minimize overwhelm by tackling one goal at a time.
If you’re concerned that stress will sabotage your addiction recovery, it doesn’t make sense to create more stress for yourself. You may have a lot that you want to accomplish as you get your life back on track, but don’t try to do it all at once.
Try writing down all of your goals, and then listing them in order of priority. Put goals that energize and excite you at the top of the list because they will motivate you the most. The more you have to look forward to, the more likely you are to maintain your sobriety.
4. Incorporate aerobic activity into your daily life.
While exercise may feel difficult and stressful when you first start, it will eventually become a piece of the sturdy foundation that roots you in healthy addiction recovery. Aerobic activity is anything that increases your heart rate, gets you sweating and requires you to control your breathing and exertion.
Whether you decide to try water aerobics, Zumba, running, fitness walking or cycling, routine aerobic exercise will help you relax while boosting your mood and allowing you to clear your mind of stressful thoughts. You may even find that your exercise sessions spark flashes of creativity that help you solve problems that have long been sources of stress for you.
5. Don’t bottle up your stress.
The worst thing you can do during addiction recovery is pretending that you’re okay when you’re not. When stressful situations arise, reach out to family and friends who are aware of your commitment to sobriety. Just venting to someone who knows about your struggles can help you see the situation in a new light, altering your reaction to the stressful situation quickly.
You can also reach out to the trained and compassionate professionals at Soba Texas when stress becomes too much to manage on your own. We’re always one call away, so never suffer in silence.