Happy to share a practical post written by fellow recovery warrior, Luke Pool. He requested to share this on Sober Mami as a valuable insight to the basics of early recovery. Enjoy!
It’s often said that the real work begins after completing a treatment program. The reason this is said is because it’s much easier to get sober when you’re in a safe, supervised environment where you’re participating in daily treatments and therapies; however, once you’ve completed treatment and returned home, you must become accountable for your own sobriety. For this reason, early recovery is quite a delicate time. Beginning in early recovery, it becomes your responsibility to implement the skills and strategies you learned while in rehab, including things like stress management. Studies have shown that stress is one of the primary causes of relapse, so it’s essentially to know healthy ways of dealing with stress in early recovery.
Consider the following five tips to help you manage stress as you progress from early to sustained, long-term recovery.
1. Identify and eliminate stressors.
When it comes to overcoming stress, the most obvious — and yet difficult — step would be to identify the stressors in your life and eliminate as many of them as possible. Of course, we can’t eliminate all stress from our lives, but it’s often the case that the things that stress us are things that we have brought onto ourselves. For instance, being late for work can be hugely stressful for a number of reasons; you get behind on your work duties, your boss becomes frustrated with you, and it might even put your job at risk. Therefore, if it’s possible for you to eliminate some of the things that are causing you stress, it follows that you’d have far less stress with which you’d need to deal. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone.
2. Get plenty of sleep.
Taking care of yourself entails eating healthy meals, maintaining your personal hygiene, taking medicine when you’re ill, and exercising to ensure optimal heart health. But there’s another facet of wellness that’s often overlooked: sleep.
Being deprived of sleep can affect virtually every other aspect of your life due to how it inhibits cognitive functioning. Since you’re unable to think as clearly and effectively as you normally would, you become prone to making mistakes and having accidents, which can put you and those around you in a level of danger. In fact, you can even put your life in danger by being sleep-deprived; i.e., having a long commute to work after a long sleepless night.
Among the many benefits of getting adequate sleep, it also helps you to deal with stress. When you’re sleep-deprived, the stress you experience is amplified, which will exacerbate the detrimental effects; however, when you’ve gotten plenty of sleep, you’re much more capable of coping with stress and finding solutions to alleviate it.
3. Have someone to talk to.
One of the greatest benefits of counseling is that it gives you an objective outsider with whom to talk about all the things that are bothering you. A therapist, counselor, or recovery coach will never judge you; this makes you more likely to talk to him or her about the types of things that bother you the most, but you wouldn’t normally talk about them for fear of judgement. Of course, you don’t actually need a therapist or counselor to benefit from talking to someone. Perhaps you have an open-minded friend or family member with whom you feel comfortable talking openly. No matter who it is, having someone to talk to is arguably the most important thing when it comes to coping with stress in healthy ways. Being able to consider your experiences as an outsider often affords these individuals a unique perspective and insights that you may not have had on your own. In many cases, talking to a friend, family member, or counselor can result in solutions to stressful situations that you couldn’t have reached on your own.
4. Find an outlet.
If you ask a musician, athlete, and painter to identify the biggest benefit of their individual crafts, it’s likely that each would tell you that making music, sports, and painting afford them an outlet for stress and intense emotion. For this reason, one of the best and most productive ways of dealing with stress would be to find some type of outlet for that stress. In effect, this outlet is some type of activity that, through physical or cognitive expression, liberates much of the stress you experience, providing a very effective and practical way of coping. Many of the best outlets for stress are either creative or physical in nature, but your own outlet can be virtually anything. To start, you might consider pursuing hobbies in which you’ve previously shown an interest, or else you could simply begin dipping a proverbial toe into different types of activities as you search for the one that’s right for you.
5. Pursue constructive activities.
Similar to finding a hobby and outlet, constructive activities can be a great way of liberating stress. One of the biggest problems with stress is that it inhibits cognitive functioning while also having physical side effects like making your muscles tense. Having productive, constructive activities in which to invest your time, attention, and energies can be a great way of overcoming stress because it helps to take your mind off whatever it was that was causing you stress. Plus, the process of doing something that yields some sort of productive outcome offers you a sense of control and gives you the feeling of making a positive difference, which is an ideal way to offset the effects of stress.
A prime example of a constructive activity that would help you to deal with stress is volunteering. As well, you might be able to find a way to combine an outlet with a constructive activity. For instance, volunteering to build homes for Habitat For Humanity would be a great option if you’re someone who enjoys building things with his or her hands; not only would this be a great outlet for stress, you’d get the added benefit of being able to make a positive difference in others’ lives.
Luke Pool is a grateful member of the Recovery community. He has found his purpose in life by helping those who suffer from the diseases of addiction. He uses blogging and social media to raise awareness about this epidemic, affecting every part of this country. Now working for Stodzy internet marketing, he is able to pursue his passion by informing as many people as possible about addiction. Originally from Austin, Texas he now lives in South Florida.