We can’t see it, we can’t always identify it as a problem, but we can’t help but feel it. It’s a problem that impacts practically every aspect of our physiology, including blood pressure, mental health, intestinal function, heart rate and more. It’s a leading killer of although it never shows up on death certificates as a cause of death, it’s linked to its six leading causes; it’s stress and it’s present in all our lives in one form or another. How we manage and avoid stress can have a serious and lasting impact on our overall health and quality of life; this is especially true for those in addiction recovery. It’s critical that we do all we can to mitigate stress in recovery.
Many of us do our best to take care of our bodies (healthy diet, exercise, etc.); however, at the same time, we’re doing nothing to minimize stress in our lives. In fact, many of us are adding to it. While we rely on our careers, relationships and friends to provide stability and joy, they can also be a great source of stress. For those who are exhibiting stress in recovery, the journey to relapse may not be a far one. It’s imperative that we do everything we can to make sure we avoid letting stress take over our lives and lead us to a setback, sending us running back to drugs and alcohol.
Avoiding stress in recovery starts with identifying triggers and learning to manage them when they emerge. We begin this work in recovery and build upon it in post-treatment therapy. It’s also imperative that we embrace the healthy things in our life that make us happy and find new outlets for joy, whether it’s reading, exercise, music, art, or even watching movies. These little moments, and the time we take for ourselves, can make all the difference as we endeavor to move forward in recovery. We should also lean on our therapists and mental health professionals to discuss the stress that we have going on in our lives. Therapy represents a safe, discreet and anonymous venue for self-expression.
We experience a specialized level of stress in recovery, but it doesn’t have to rule us or derail our recovery. We can lean on our support system and the behavioral tools we’ve developed in treatment to help us overcome stress in recovery and live the rich and rewarding lives we deserve.