Adjusting to life without drugs and alcohol is a big transition. Many addicts and alcoholics used drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with stress. One big challenge in early recovery is to find new ways to deal with stress when previously your approach had been to drink or get high. Here are 8 tips for stress management in early recovery.
- Breathe. Our bodies do it without our conscious thinking in order to keep us alive. When we experience stress often our autonomic nervous system kicks in resulting in shallow breathing. Try taking a slow deep breath counting to 5 on your inhale. Hold it for a count of three. Count to 7 as you exhale. Repeat that process 10 times.
- Talk it out. In early recovery sometimes it’s hard to realize feelings are not facts. Speaking out loud to another human being what you are feeling stress about can be helpful. Choosing someone you trust can also give you an opportunity to hear someone’s experience, strength, and hope around how they’ve handled similar stressors.
- Take a walk. Change your physiology, change your thoughts. Getting fresh air, even if it’s just a walk around the block can help regulate our nervous system. Sometimes a different perspective is all that is needed.
- Write. Writing is a great antidote to thoughts whirling around in your head. Put pen to paper and write down everything you are stressed or worried about.
- Rest. Good sleep is essential for effective stress management and can be a challenge in early recovery. Even if you don’t sleep, giving yourself 10 minutes to be quiet can help.
- Meditate. There are many different ways to meditate. Some people sit quietly and focus on their breath. Some meditate while swimming or walking. Others meditate while drawing or coloring. Find what is meditative to you and add it into your daily life.
- Eat healthy. In early recovery sometimes we don’t know when we are hungry because we were so used to ignoring our bodies in our active addictions. When you are hungry, eat something. Try a piece of organic fruit if you are craving sweets. Eat protein and whole grains to stabilize blood sugar. Consume plenty of vegetables to gain the essential vitamins and nutrients your brain and body needs.
- Take it easy. Many addicts and alcoholics are also perfectionists and very tough on themselves. “Don’t take yourself so seriously” is a common saying in recovery. Ask yourself if what you are worried about will matter on your deathbed. Will you still be upset that the guy in the fast lane is only going the speed limit? Sometimes we just have to remind ourselves that this too shall pass.
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