Whether you’re new to sobriety or have been on your recovery journey for some time, it can be difficult dealing with stress in sobriety. Stress is one of the leading triggers for relapse, so it is important to find tools for handling stress and anxiety. Learning how to cope with stressful events is key to long-term sobriety.
Stress is part of everyday life. It is pretty common to hear someone say they need a drink after a long day at work, or before social events. However, many people end up using drugs or alcohol in order to cope with particularly stressful events or situations. When you begin your sober journey, you have to develop new habits and coping mechanisms for these inevitable events. But if you have spent a significant amount of time in the grips of addiction, it may be challenging to figure out where to start.
Dealing with Stress in Early Sobriety
Getting sober is stressful. You can no longer rely on drugs or alcohol to mask feelings or to be a crutch in anxiety-inducing situations. Additionally, your mind and body are adjusting to life without chemicals and this may leave you feeling jittery, anxious, and nervous. You may also discover underlying mental health disorders that addiction covered.
However, finding healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with stress in sobriety early on can lay the foundation for long-lasting recovery.
- Establish a routine — Creating a predictable routine can help you prioritize recovery and create healthy habits. Routines also establish predictable and timely moments for self-care that are important in early recovery.
- Go to meetings — Getting to regular meetings or group therapy establishes a sober community and gives you a resource network if you feel yourself slipping.
- Ask for help — Sobriety is not a solo journey and you shouldn’t feel guilty about asking for help. Reach out to your support network often.
- Take a breath — Focusing on the breath help focus the mind on a slow, simple task. This simple act can lower the heart rate and rebalance the fight-or-flight response of stressful situations.
- Walk away — Sometimes the best thing you can do if you feel particularly overwhelmed is walk way and take a break from the situation. Giving yourself a “time out” allows you to get away from the trigger.
Tips for Dealing with Stress in Sobriety
Everyone needs a little guidance from time to time. Use these tips to help you on your sober journey.
Connect with your support system
Whether you attend meetings, group therapy, or have a solid home-based support network reaching out to your support system is important. Your support system can be a safe place to vent your frustrations and a great place for dealing with stress in sobriety. They can also give you advice and offer encouragement.
By attending a meeting or group therapy session, you can press the reset button on your day. By listening to other people’s stories, you can get outside of your head for a little while. Additionally, listening to other people’s stories can provide invaluable insight into how to handle your own stresses.
If you can’t get to a meeting or connect with your sponsor, journaling about your feelings is a great way to get them out of your head in a safe way. Journaling can help you prioritize your feelings and spot triggers. The physical act of writing down your feelings and concerns can redirect spiraling thought patterns. Moreover, regular journaling lets you track any patterns that you may want to bring up to your sponsor or therapist.
Sometimes the best thing you can do when you’re dealing with stress in sobriety is just getting outdoors. By physically removing yourself from triggers and stressors, you can temporarily reduce the temptation to use. As an added bonus, sunlight has been shown to help improve serotonin levels — helping to lessen anxiety symptoms. Taking a relaxed stroll, gardening, or bike ride can boost self-esteem, improve your sleep patterns, and improve focus.
There have been countless studies that have documented the benefits of meditation. Meditation has been proved to reduce anxiety, ease stress, and promote emotional stress. By getting into a regular meditation practice, you can set the mental groundwork to handle stress. Furthermore, meditation allows you to turn inward and identify triggers and safely identify self-defeating thoughts and feelings that may be hurting your sobriety.
Get Some Exercise
Exercise releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins can give you a natural euphoric feeling, which can help alleviate stress and anxiety. Furthermore, regular exercise works on the parts of your brain that control stress and anxiety. Increasing your heart rate releases the anti-stress hormone serotonin, which helps reduce stress and anxiety. As an added bonus, because it is physical rather than mental, exercise redirects your attention outside of your head.
Don’t let stress trigger a relapse. If you need help finding healthy coping skills for dealing with stress in sobriety, we can help. At Brentwood Springs Detox our team of caring and compassionate addiction specialists know what it takes to overcome addiction and support you on your recovery journey. Contact us today to speak with a support specialist.