How Stress Management Can Aid Rehab

Stress is often one of the main reasons individuals participate in substance abuse. Obviously the sources of stress do not go away when you become sober, so what can you do instead of turning to the bottle to cope with life’s challenges? According to the American Institute of Stress, 44% of Americans feel more stressed today than they did five years ago. Even more shocking is the statistic that stress is the basic cause of 60% of all illness and/or disease.

One question to consider is what kind of stress you are facing. The U.S. National Library of Medicine tells us that there are two kinds of stress: acute stress and chronic stress. Acute stress is short-term and goes away quickly. An example is a fight with your spouse or when you slam down on the brakes while driving. Chronic stress lasts for a longer period of time such as having money problems or trouble at work. Stress that goes on for weeks or months is often subtle and you may not even know it exists.

Here are some specific symptoms of stress to consider:

  • Energy and sleep levels are not right. You feel tired despite getting enough sleep. You feel as if you do not have enough energy and may even feel like you are not thinking clearly.
  • Your emotions arenot normal. You may have increasing levels of anxiety, anger, melancholy, helplessness, or feel out of control or very
  • You experience aches and pains. These include headaches (minor or major), backaches, neck aches, stomachaches, tight muscles and clenched jaw.
  • You have digestion issues such as diarrhea, constipation, and upset stomach.
  • Your mind feels fuzzy. This could manifest as forgetfulness, lack of energy, or being easily irritated, forgetful and impatient.
  • You suffer from long-term effects. These may appear as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression and anxiety.

Now that you know what some of the common symptoms of stress are, it is important to look at how stress management can help you in your recovery.

Become Aware of Your Emotions

You will not know how you truly feel and what causes you stress until you practice. It takes time to learn more about yourself—especially if you suffer from chronic stress—and to see how you really feel. The HALT method is a good guideline to help you focus on your mental and physical state. If you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired you are going to be more stressed and not think as clearly as normal.

Exercise Regularly

If you are not sleeping well or feel anxiety, exercise can help you feel more energetic and well rested, while also combatting many other symptoms of stress. For example, some physical exercise such as basketball or biking has been shown to also help with anxiety and depression. Exercise can truly help you improve your attitude and make your entire body and mind feel better. Yes, it sounds really simple, but give it a try and you can see how much it helps.

Keep a Journal

Writing to process your thoughts and emotions is very important. The act of putting these feelings down on paper forces you to verbalize the situation. As you look back, keep an eye out for any common themes you see—you may be trying to tell yourself something important. For example, if you find yourself stressed on Sundays or Mondays but not on Fridays or Saturdays, this could be a sign that your job is really stressing you out. Pay attention to your thoughts as your thoughts often drive your actions.

Talk About Your Problems

When you sit down and communicate your problems, you will sometimes surprise yourself. You may want to talk with a therapist or a member of your support network. Don’t isolate yourself—instead share your thoughts, concerns and struggles so you can get help. When you hold problems inside, they tend to feel bigger and more unmanageable. The process of talking with others often leads to healing and a helpful outside perspective instead of more pain.

Try Meditation or Intentional Breathing

Silence is a very powerful stress reliever. Practicing deep breathing or spending a few moments alone focused on breathing often makes a big difference. You don’t need any special training to meditate or breathe deeper. You can sit in a rocking chair on your porch or just take a few moments to sit outside in the grass and listen to the birds. A few moments away like this can restore you mentally to help you make better decisions.

Find 24 Hour Addiction Help

If you have any questions about ways to reduce stress and strengthen your sobriety, please call our toll-free helpline. Admissions coordinators are available to answer questions and connect you with the resources you need to overcome addiction and lead a happy and fulfilling life.