Stress can affect people both physically and emotionally. It is an extremely powerful event that can cause anyone to experience coping difficulties. Unfortunately, stress for those who are struggling with sobriety may sometimes be difficult to cope with, which may lead to relapse. The good news is there are ways to manage your stress, while on your journey to stay clean and sober.
12-step meetings, such as NA and AA just to name a few are an important part of recovery, whether you are new or have been in recovery for years. If you haven’t been going to meetings as frequently as you used to, making plans to go to regular meetings will give you an opportunity to socialize as well as express your feelings in a safe, comfortable environment, regardless of the phase of your recovery. Keep in mind that in many parts of the US meetings are still half online via zoom. so socializing at a meeting on zoom means tuning in early to visit and planning to talk with someone after. Talking is an ideal way to de-stress, so attending a meeting will allow you to get your thoughts out and help you remember what’s important. If you have a sponsor or another close member of your program, consider making plans for weekly or monthly coffee; this will help you stay grounded and give you something relaxing to look forward to.
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Hobbies and Activities
One of the best ways to reduce stress is through physical activity. Even something as simple as going for a walk can be extremely beneficial for reducing stress. When exercising, your brain releases dopamine, which is a naturally occurring substance that helps affects mood. So, participating in physical activities will increase the release of dopamine, which in turn, improves energy and feelings of happiness, ultimately reducing stress and allowing you to feel more clear-headed. Doing a hobby works along the same lines as physical activity, in that your body will naturally feel calmer; this reduces your stress. Getting involved in your local 12-step program weather its being part of the meeting team or social and fundraising events can be all the difference in how you view recovery.
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There is nothing more stressful than rushing to complete a task; whether it’s making an appointment on time or cleaning out a closet. Being unorganized leads to a chaotic mess and ultimately increases your stress. It’s important to plan your days accordingly, tackle the tasks that will require a lot of mental and/or physical work in small bits; try not to overwhelm yourself with things that can be done over a few days. Take frequent breaks, go for a short walk or simply sit outside for a few minutes to gather your thoughts. When possible, try to limit overwhelming projects to only one per day and always relax and reward yourself after completing a difficult project.
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You have worked hard throughout your recovery, so, it’s important for you to enjoy your sober life. Stress is a common thing that everyone experiences at some time in their lifetime, but it can be much more difficult for those who are in recovery. Having a good support system is essential for those who are in recovery. A support system can be beneficial for those times when you are overwhelmed with stress and are at risk of relapsing. Keep in mind that a support system doesn’t always mean a friend or family member; it can be a sponsor or even a favorite group at meetings. Learning to recognize when you are stressed and taking the steps necessary to reach out for help will go a long way in calming your mind and avoiding a relapse.
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