Coping with stress does not come easily or naturally to people who have become accustomed to masking their stress with alcohol or drugs. Practicing healthy ways to deal with life on life’s terms, which includes stressful situations, is an important part of the recovery process. Stress comes in many forms. It can take an emotional toll. Emotional symptoms of stress include agitation, frustration, moodiness, low self-esteem and an overwhelming sense of losing control. It can cause actual physical symptoms, such as frequent headaches, upset stomach, tense muscles, rapid heartbeat and insomnia. Causes of stress are boundless: family problems, marital discord, conflict in the workplace, traffic jams, overcrowded calendar, and so on. Stress is part of everyday life, but people in recovery can learn how to cope without relying on a reality-altering substance.
Take Control Over Power Of Stress
No matter how powerful stress may seem, you can learn to control how they respond to it.
- Eliminate extra stressors – While some areas of stress cannot be controlled, others can. Learn to set boundaries by not immediately saying “yes” to everything others ask you to do. Avoid people and places that add stress to your life. Examine your schedule closely, and set realistic goals.
- Change situations when possible – Practice communicating facts and feelings without drama, and be willing to compromise. Manage your own time so you can avoid falling behind in tasks.
- Try a different attitude – Situations can become less stressful just by changing your thinking. Avoid an attitude of perfectionism by eliminating personal need for specific outcomes. Put situations in perspective by looking at their importance realistically.
- Practice acceptance – Stress can come about because of the need to control. When you realize that you cannot control other people, places and things, your life will become less stressful.
- Create pleasure – Keeping a positive outlook and making time for enjoyable activities helps lower your stress level. Make a list of things that bring you pleasure, and turn to the list when you feel stress begin to mount. Another important tool is to look at yourself and others with a sense of humor.
Coping with stress is a learned practice for everyone, but particularly for people in recovery.