10 Steps for a Stress-Free Early Recovery
Your early days in recovery from addiction are bound to be tough, but if you can mitigate and cope with stress in healthful ways, you can avoid relapsing and going back to page one. Research has proven over and over again, and addicts know this based on experience, that stress is a major factor that leads to relapse, especially in early recovery. If you know this and prepare for it by learning and practicing stress-relief techniques, you can have a stress-free, successful early recovery.
Identify Your Sources of Stress
Naturally, your biggest source of stress in early recovery is going to be just that: being newly in recovery and coping with the possibility of relapse. Try to target and identify those other elements of your life that cause you the most stress. Keep a stress journal. Every time you feel stressed out, stop and try to identify the source. Make note of it in your journal, along with how you feel in that moment, both physically and emotionally, how you respond to the stress and what you did to feel better.
Knowing what is causing you stress, how it makes you feel and how you cope with it is powerful knowledge. This is called being mindful, and it is the first step toward finding better ways to cope with stress. When you are mindful, or self-aware, you can start to make positive changes.
Avoid Stressors Where Possible
Being human means you are bound to have stress. It’s a natural part of being alive, and sometimes it can be positive. Good stress motivates you to get things done. That being said, you can take steps to eliminate some sources of negative stress and have a lifestyle that is more relaxing and conducive to recovery.
Start by looking through your stress journal. Find the things that cause you the most stress and see how you can change them. Is one particular friend stressing you out regularly? Spend less time with her. Is your partner’s constant worrying stressing you out? Have a talk with him and let him know how it makes you feel. Is your job your No. 1 cause of stress? Consider finding another career path.
Learn and Practice Stress Management Techniques
Healthy stress management is intentional. You have to work at being stress-free, but the good news is that there are proven techniques you can easily learn:
- Positive affirmations
- Deep breathing exercises
- Time management
- Expressing feelings
- Socializing with friends and family
- Engaging in hobbies
- Practicing forgiveness
Remember to practice stress management techniques on a daily basis. Use a variety of strategies, but if you find one that works particularly well for you, like meditation, practice it every day to keep stress levels low.
Exercise, Eat Well and Sleep
When you take care of yourself physically, you will feel better emotionally and you will be better equipped to deal with stress. Taking care of your body and your mind means exercising regularly, even if it is just a brisk walk every day, eating healthful foods and avoiding junk foods, and getting adequate and high quality sleep every night. If you don’t know how to eat well or you need advice on exercise, you can find support with nutritionists or physical trainers at your local gym.
Avoiding and managing stress is incredibly important to your early recovery. Stress is a big risk factor for relapse, so to maintain your sobriety and to have a relaxing and enjoyable life, learn what stresses you out and how to cope in healthful ways. You won’t regret taking the time to have a low-stress early recovery.
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