Nearly everyone feels stressed from time to time, including young children. Stress is necessary for our survival instinct: stress hormones trigger the body’s “fight or flight” response, leading to rising heartbeats, quickened breaths, and tightening muscles. However, too much stress can be dangerous. In today’s fast-paced world, most people agree that stress can negatively affect your body and mind, leading to health issues.
Different Kinds of Stress
We all experience different kinds of stress on a daily basis. There is routine stress, which is caused by the pressures and demands from work, school, and other responsibilities. Difficult life events, such as job loss or divorce, or traumatic incidents such as fatal accidents, assaults, or natural disasters can also bring about stress. The intense stress caused by these events may lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When stress builds up without proper relief, it can lead to physical symptoms.
You should address stress that accumulates and creates warning signs before it gets worse. These warning signs may include headaches, depression, heartburn, hypertension, and dysfunctions in your immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems. They indicate that the stress level in your body has become chronic and life-endangering. Stress and addiction are mutually reinforcing patterns. If you are starting treatment, learning stress management strategies is crucial.
Sources of Stress During Recovery
The very process of recovery can be a source of stress. You are in a new place with a new group of people trying new ways of living. You may be getting new diagnoses and receiving strategies for dealing with them from therapists and counselors. You may gain awareness of the consequences of your actions and behavioral patterns. You might wrestle with false expectations and the fear that this might be a disappointing experience. There is a lot of learning, noticing, and getting used to. All these factors are very challenging, especially when you can no longer resort to your normal stress management in the form of drugs and alcohol. Therefore, stress arises as your brain and body struggle to respond to these demands in new ways.
Withdrawal symptoms can also make you feel more stressed during detox treatment. Since your brain has gotten used to drugs and/or alcohol, quitting them altogether might set your body in a kind of reactive chaos. The stress caused by suppressed cravings can hamper the functionality of your nervous system. During early recovery, it is especially important to look out for warning signs of worsening stress and anxiety, which might cause a drain on your body.
Practical Strategies in Coping with Stress
The good news is, many coping strategies are tried and true by people who have succeeded in recovery. These tools can help you navigate recovery stress. Remember that at a recovery center, everyone is there to support you. Don’t fear being vulnerable. You should learn to verbalize stress, which is key to relieving it. Do not assume your case to be an exception because experienced counselors have seen many similar cases, so trust and rely on their expertise.
Here are a few practical tips for daily stress management:
- Learn techniques of mindful meditation or breathing. Noticing your own breathing patterns and taking deep breaths are effective ways to step out of the “stress zone.” Listen to your body, notice the stress, and learn to release it.
- Lean on healthy social relationships for maximum emotional support during times of stress and anxiety.
- Healthy amounts of sleep and exercise are a must. If necessary, seek help from health professionals for sleep support medication.
- Identify your stressors, such as unhealthy relationships or too much negative news content, and avoid them.
Long-Term Recovery and Long-Term Stress Management
After leaving your treatment center, you should ideally have learned some long-term stress management skills. They include a few building blocks such as good sleep, regular exercises, relaxation techniques, healthy social relationships, leisure time, a sense of humor, and a positive outlook on life in general. If you live with any mental disorder that makes any part of that difficult, maybe it is time to consult a mental healthcare professional or behavioral therapist. They can help you identify the sources of stress and learn new coping tools. If your chronic stress has led to anxiety attacks and chest pain, these may be warning signs of severe health problems, and you should consider some intervention treatment.
Chronic stress is an epidemic, and if you struggle with it, you are not alone. Anyone can feel overwhelmed from time to time. It is important to learn self-care and promptly de-stress. If you or a loved one is experiencing stress and anxiety that leads to addiction, seek help from health professionals. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we can help you manage stress both during recovery and in long-term sobriety. Here you can find tailor-made treatment plans, including cognitive and behavioral therapies, family relationship programs, 12-step groups, and alumni services. Laguna Shores Recovery is a complete medical and residential facility. Most of our staff are in recovery from addiction and are willing to walk alongside you. Call us at (866) 229-9923, and we would be happy to help you navigate a new stage of life. Schedule an appointment with a licensed mental healthcare professional or therapist to begin living a stress-free life toward long-term recovery.