Healthy Ways to Manage Stress
The world is filled with stressors and everyone will experience them at one point or another. From financial strain, overbearing bosses and relationship issues, stress can occur on a frequent basis or out of nowhere. Although there is evidence which shows small bursts of stress can be a good thing, there are also studies which have found persistent long term stress is unhealthy; leading to inflammation, heart problems, muscle pain, depression and even the altercation of your genetic makeup.
In the case of an addiction, stress can be one of the biggest factors for an individual to continue to abuse, but also to relapse. It’s important for a recovering addict to be able to implement healthy ways to manage stress. Loved ones of addicts can also benefit from learning a few easy stress management techniques too. Being able to cope with stress can go a very long way; here are a few ways to get started.
Engage in Positive Self Talk
Everyone talks to himself or herself; it’s a way of releasing built up thoughts or even working logical things out. Self talk can be positive or negative. The former can manage stress and the later can increase it. The next time you find yourself engaging in self talk, try to maintain positive thoughts. Things like “I can do this” rather than “I can’t do this”, or “I will get through these things one step at a time” versus “Everything is falling apart.” You can talk out loud, or keep it in your head. With practice, you may find that positive self talk can help you to calm down, alleviate anxiety and manage your stress levels.
As an addiction recovery technique try positive self talk every day; even if you’re not feeling stressed. When you wake up, say something like “It’s going to be a great day”. When you look in the mirror to brush your teeth remind yourself that you are a beautiful person.
Practice Daily Relaxation
You may associate relaxation with watching your favorite TV show, and sure sometimes it can be very nice to do just that. However, if you’re feeling stressed out and like you may relapse, try to relieve these feelings through relaxation. Yoga, tai chi, meditation, painting, writing, walking or massage are some of the most effective ways to calm tension in the body and mind. Learning how to relax during these activities will take patience, but give yourself a chance and try them all. Surely, there will be some method which feels right and works for you.
When a person is feeling stressed, their breathing can become fast paced and cause the body to become depleted in oxygen. This can heighten adrenaline, promote a headache and increase stress. Sometimes, you need to sit down and breathe. Start slowly inhaling, focusing only on the breath and slowly allow the same breath to be exhaled. Do this repeatedly until you feel like you’ve calmed down. Go ahead and take 5 to 10 minutes a day to practice this easy breathing technique. Try it now!
The benefits of exercise seemingly continue to grow as more and more research is done on this subject matter. Exercise doesn’t just mean lifting weights or jogging; rather, it can be anything that gets your body moving. Some people swim, others go wake boarding and some hike through forest trails. Whatever it is, exercise benefits the body and mind. Even 20 minutes of dancing as you wash dishes can make a huge difference and relieve you of any stress that is weighing you down.
Smile and Laugh
You might be thinking that it’s hard to smile and laugh when you’re feeling stressed out. However, it can be done. The brain is interconnected with emotions and the expressions your face gives off. When people are happy, their face may show it. Likewise, when people are stressed or anxious, this too can often show. Laughing can not only improve tension in the face, but also help you to feel better. If you’re not sure how you are going to laugh or smile, open up YouTube and do a search for these terms. You will find something that will do the trick. If YouTube isn’t available, go to the park or shopping mall. People watch and you will see something beautiful, funny, quirky and even weird. It’s a great activity and a free way to manage stress.
Sometimes you may need to talk to someone. If you feel this way, call a sober support friend, family member or sponsor. Write an email if you don’t feel like talking on the phone. Find some way to share your concerns and emotions. Ideally you can find someone to talk to, whom you can trust and who is also not going to judge you. It’s not a bad idea to write these people down along with their contact details. Carry this list with you so it’s always available when you need it.
Emergency Stress Management
There may be an incident in which stress hits you out of nowhere. It is so sudden that you do not have time to exercise or find something to laugh at. These are crucial times and, if not managed properly, can lead to further problems including an addiction relapse. These emergency stress techniques will help you to deal with stress immediately on the spot. You may need to use multiple ones at the same time and they may not all work for every incident.
- In the case of a verbal argument or communication mishap, count to ten before speaking.
- When you feel overwhelmed, take five deep breaths.
- If you cannot be in a situation, politely excuse yourself while noting you will continue the discussion when things have settled.
- Whenever you’re stressed or upset, go for a walk, even if it’s up and down a hallway.
- Go outside and look at the beauty of the clouds, a tree, a bird or a flower whenever you feel stressed or emotional.