Stress is something everyone experiences. It might happen because you want the best outcome possible in a situation or you are finding an event or task challenging. No matter what causes it, finding a way to manage stress in a positive way is an essential step in ensuring long-term addiction recovery.
What is stress management, and what can you do today to preserve your health and minimize your risk of suffering negative consequences?
Why Managing Stress Is Critical
Stress impacts a person physically in multiple ways. When you experience a highly stressful situation, your body releases hormones as a way to prepare yourself to take some type of action to alleviate that stress. This causes your muscles to tighten to be ready to run, your brain to be more focused so you can make better decisions, and your heart to pump harder to get blood where it needs to go. Your body is designed to manage short-term periods of stress as a type of protective measure.
For those with chronic stress, these physical responses keep happening. Your body is in that constant state of readiness to take action. This isn’t healthy.
Those who suffer from high-stress levels are likely to experience both emotional and physical symptoms, such as:
- Frequent aches and pains
- Upset stomach
- Lack of energy and focus
- Weight loss or gain
- Sexual problems
For those who have a substance use disorder, these symptoms lead to an increased desire to “do something” about the stress–and that “something” might be returning to substance use. For a person with a substance use disorder, even one that seems to be well controlled, managing stress is critical. Don’t ignore it.
How Stress Management Empowers You
Stress management is the process of learning how to recognize when high stress levels are occurring so you can do something to relieve stress. It’s not about preventing all stress but learning how to manage its presence in your day-to-day life.
Don’t try to eliminate stress or pretend like it’s not impacting you. Instead, when life gets hard for any reason, consider these strategies for managing stress.
- Stop and Recognize What’s Really Happening
As your brain winds you up and your heart starts to pound, take a moment in that instance to stop. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and center your mind. Focused breathing like this enables you to bring your heart rate down. It also helps to relieve some of the tension you feel at that moment. That’s important because it gives you the chance to make a good decision about what to do next.
2. Incorporate Self-Care into Your Routine
Stress management isn’t just an in-the-moment process but something you can do regularly by incorporating self-care into your routine. Allow yourself time to give your body what it needs to function at its best. In its most basic form, self-care should include:
- Eating a balanced, nutritious diet
- Getting routine exercise (daily when possible)
- Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night
Then, work to incorporate other elements into your life that can directly combat the stress you are facing. That may include:
- Spending time with close friends who make you happy
- Joining a sports program that interests you, with people who support you
- Spending time reading or listening to music.
- Engaging in some form of self-expression, such as dance, art, or music
Choose something you love to do. Then, make that an activity you engage in on a weekly or more frequent basis. Even if it doesn’t seem like you have time for it, prioritize self-care, as it will directly impact your quality of life.
3. Build Meaningful Relationships But Leave Others Behind
Stress management also requires knowing when to leave a situation, including relationships that are toxic. The key here is to know when it is time to terminate a relationship that puts you into a constant state of frustration and at risk for relapse.
On the other hand, having very positive relationships can bring value to your life, provide a meaningful level of support, and offer hope for the future. More so, a good friend can help you to know when you need more help.
4. Know That There’s Help Available to You
At The Ranch at Dove Tree, you can seek out help if you feel you’re at risk for relapse. When stress gets out of control, puts your health at risk, or makes you start thinking about using again, it’s time to get support from a professional. We can help today. Contact our drug and alcohol treatment center in Lubbock, Texas, for immediate support.