October is Emotional Wellness Month. With winter approaching, and the holiday season just over the horizon, this is the perfect time to consider what steps you need to take to protect your mental health. If you are working to maintain your sobriety, this can also be an ideal opportunity to review strategies and techniques for managing stress in recovery.
The Relationship Between Stress and Recovery
It may be a cliché, but it’s also true: Stress is an unavoidable part of life. Recovery doesn’t make the world an easier place, but it does empower you to handle challenges (like stress) in a healthy and productive manner.
When you’re in recovery, you will still have to deal with everyday stressors like difficulties at work, problems in your relationships, and similar concerns. You’ll also have to focus on managing the urges that can threaten your sobriety. Managing stress in recovery isn’t always easy, but the skills you develop can serve you well in all aspects of your life.
Tips for Managing Stress in Recovery
There are many tools and techniques for managing stress in recovery. However, they are only effective if you put in the effort. This is why it’s so important to explore your options, then pick the strategies that work for you. Here are a few suggestions:
Focus on your breath.
Inhale slowly and deeply. Pause for just a moment. Then slowly exhale. Repeat this process. While you are doing this, place your full attention on the breath entering and leaving your body. When thoughts or feelings arise, acknowledge them, let them go, and return your focus to your breath.
Focusing on your breath is sometimes referred to as mindful breathing. It is a core component of some meditation practices. When you focus on your breath, you can calm your mind and connect yourself with the present moment. This technique can help you experience difficult emotions without reacting in a reckless or self-defeating manner. It can also be an excellent tool for managing stress in recovery.
There is no downside to making gratitude a part of your daily life. It costs nothing, it requires no physical effort, and you can do it wherever and whenever you want to. It’s so simple, yet it can make an incredible difference in your mood and your mindset.
When things are going well, take a moment to be grateful for what you are experiencing. During difficult days, remind yourself of all that you have to be thankful for. If you appreciate someone, let them know. Do this every day for a month, and you just may end up doing it for the rest of your life.
Connect to nature.
Science supports what poets and philosophers have been saying for centuries: It’s good to spend time in nature. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the mental health benefits of nature include improved cognitive flexibility, better memory, stress reduction, enhanced ability to focus and concentrate, increased happiness, and a reduced risk for developing certain disorders.
Actually being in nature is the best way to achieve these benefits, but researchers have discovered that even watching videos or listening to recorded nature sounds can be helpful.
Get enough sleep.
If you are an adult, you should be getting at least seven hours of quality sleep every night. Failing to do so can put you at risk for several problems. Abnormal sleep patterns have been associated with many mental and behavioral health concerns. Poor sleep has also been linked with a variety of medical conditions.
When you get an appropriate amount of sleep on a regular basis, you will be more alert and better able to think clearly, solve problems, maintain focus, and manage stress. Quality sleep has also been associated with improved mood, a healthier immune system, and a reduced likelihood of developing diabetes, heart problems, and other health issues.
Prioritize your goals.
Setting measurable and attainable goals is an excellent way to manage stress in recovery. Goals are associated with preparation, motivation, and structure. They promote purposeful action, and they discourage wasteful behaviors.
When you have goals, even minor steps have value, because you know they are bringing you closer to your objective. Goals can also transform daunting tasks into manageable challenges. If you’ve ever heard the words “one day at a time” from someone in the recovery community then you’re already familiar with the power of using small goals to achieve great things.
Let go of what you can’t control.
There’s a reason why the Serenity Prayer is so popular among people who are in recovery. It’s important to accept that some things are beyond your ability to control.
If you are devoting any energy toward efforts that have no chance of succeeding, you are simply setting yourself up for failure and frustration. When you’re committed to managing stress in recovery, the last thing you want to do is find more reasons to be angry or anxious. Focus on the areas where you can make a positive difference.
Celebrate your progress.
Every day that you remain in recovery is a victory. Whether you’ve been sober for a day, a year, or a decade, you have made tremendous progress.
Think about how far you’ve come since you were mired in the depths of active addiction. There was probably a time when you truly believed you could never stop using the drug or drugs that you had become dependent on. But you put in the work required of lasting recovery, and you made it happen. And that is worth celebrating, each and every day.
Moving your body is good for your mind. (It’s good for your body, too, but you probably already knew that.) Getting an appropriate amount of exercise is also an excellent stress-management technique.
Remember that exercise can take many forms. You don’t have to pump iron every day to benefit, though if the gym is your happy place, by all means, keep going. There are many other ways you can incorporate activity into your daily life. Take a walk. Ride your bike. Shoot hoops in the driveway. Once you’ve found something you enjoy doing, it will become easier to make it a habit.
Just about everything in this section could be categorized as self-care. When you make an effort to safeguard your physical health and your emotional well-being, you are practicing self-care.
Here are a few reminders of how you can do this: Meditate. Spend time with friends. Find a hobby that makes you happy. Express gratitude. Make sure you’re eating right and getting enough sleep. Forgive yourself for your past transgressions. Celebrate the progress you’ve made. Be proud of the person you’ve become. And don’t be afraid to seek professional help if necessary.
Find Addiction Treatment in South FL
Ambrosia Treatment Center provides personalized addiction treatment services for adults in South Florida. We also serve adults whose struggles with substance abuse are accompanied by certain co-occurring mental health concerns. When you’re ready to start living the healthier and more hopeful life you deserve, the Ambrosia team is here for you. Contact us today to learn how we can help.