Last updated: 04/30/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
It doesn’t matter who you are, life is filled with stressors. But in early recovery, stress can easily become overwhelming and make you feel like you’re spiraling out of control. Both a relapse trigger and a warning sign, stress is one of the most common reasons for relapse and one of the first things to watch out for.
Instead of falling into the negative cycle of using drugs or alcohol to deal with your stress, here are seven tips to help you handle stress in early recovery.
Pay Attention to Your Body
Stress manifests itself in the body in all sorts of ways: headaches, muscle tension, neck and back pain, stomach aches, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, fatigue, appetite changes, and memory problems are just a few ways that your body’s showing you that your stress levels are getting too high. When stress starts impacting you physically, it’s time to step back and reevaluate what you can do to reduce it.
Master Time Management
Time management is important for any productive person, but for the first 90 days of recovery, time management can keep your life streamlined and not let stress get overwhelming. When you start to get stressed, time management allows you to let go of unneeded duties and chores so you can focus on treatment and staying sober.
Talk about It
Every day stressors add up, and when you keep all that tension inside, it tends to bottle up, increasing your stress even more. Instead of keeping it all to yourself, share your feelings, thoughts, and troubles with family, friends, your therapist, sponsor, or even open up during a 12 step meeting.
Talking about it not only gets these things off your chest, but it also gives you an outside perspective that may help you overcome the things around you.
Distance the Unsupportive
Not everyone understands addiction or what it’s like to be in recovery. If there are people in your life who aren’t supportive of you and your recovery, distance yourself from them. There’s enough stuff in your life trying to hold you back, you don’t need others making it harder to stay clean.
Prepare and Plan
While some stressors just happen upon you, there are many that you can prepare for, some that you can avoid, and others that you can create a game plan in advance to help you deal with them. That whey when you know you’re going to have to deal with people, places, or things that make you stressed, you’ll always be prepared.
Maintain a Schedule
When you’re in early recovery, keeping a schedule is one of the best things you can do to help manage stress. Write down all your daily and weekly priorities including things like work, treatment, meetings, and family obligations.
Know what time you’re going to go to bed at night and what time you’re going to get up in the morning. Keeping a regular schedule keeps your body destressed and calms your mind when things get overwhelming.
Whether it’s through deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, learning to be mindful helps you let go of unneeded stress and calm both your body and mind. Mindfulness also helps you let go of cravings and recognize negative thinking that can often get you in trouble during early recovery.