Often a major contributing factor to the development of an addiction is not having the right coping mechanisms. Perhaps you saw your parents have a drink when life got stressful. Perhaps you recognized early that life feels much easier when you’re high. Certainly, many men and women don’t know how to do something as basic as take care of themselves, simply because they were never taught to do so. As a result, drugs and alcohol are an easy answer. They become the means to take care of themselves.
Of course, when this becomes destructive and harmful, then the use of drugs and alcohol needs to be replace with other tools. This is often the task when living at a sober living facility. Men and women are learning how to live their lives without alcohol and without the high of illicit drugs.
As you can imagine, there are many different ways to relieve stress that don’t include drinking or using drugs. Part of sober living is learning how to do just that. Instead, of grabbing for a drink, you might meditate, practice yoga, or exercise. Instead of smoking pot, you might take a hot bath, go for a swim, or sit and read a science fiction novel. The following is a list of options for relieving stress as permanent replacements for drug and alcohol use:
- Exercise. This releases endorphins and promotes emotional well-being.
- Step outside. Enjoy the sun and fresh air. You might try to find a beautiful view or landscape.
- Practice yoga. Yoga is a practice, a form of exercise, which invites an integrated experience of body and mind. Its effects can be experienced immediately as well as over time.
- Practice meditation. Meditation is also a very calming practice that can also produce healing experiences. Although meditation might be difficult at first, the challenge at the beginning is worth the rewards.
- Breathe deeply. Deep breathing can be an essential tool, particularly right in those intense moments that might otherwise lead to relapse.
- Play with your dog or cat. Pets can creating a feeling of being loved and needed. When we spend time with them we can easily feel their love for us and this alone can help us relax.
- Listen to music. Soft and relaxing music can influence mood. If you’re feeling stressed, listen to music that is slow and calming.
- Light a scented candle. You can do more than just light a candle. You can create an ambiance in a room to feel more at ease by also lighting incense, playing music, lowering the shades, and making your favorite tea.
- Use scents to relax you. Breathe in the scent of fresh flowers or coffee beans, or savor a scent that reminds you of a favorite memory. Use your sense of smell to create a more relaxed inner experience. For instance, smelling the scent of sunscreen might remind you of being on vacation or being at the beach.
- Use guided imagery. If you have a CD of a meditation, use that to take yourself into a dreamy place to relax your body and mind. Or you can simply close your eyes and picture a peaceful place, such as a sandy beach or waterfall. Or think of a fond memory, such as your child’s first steps or time spent with friends.
- Make yourself a steaming cup of tea. Teas like chamomile or peppermint can help relax the body.
- Use humor. You can laugh with your friends. Using humor can lighten up any situation, and laughter boosts the immune system.
- Rely on your spirituality: A belief in a higher power can be a great comfort when stressed. In whatever way that feels comfortable for you, reaching out to a higher power can provide a sense of relief and consolation.
- Look at favorite family photos.
- Give yourself a neck or shoulder massage.
- Soak in a hot bath or shower.
This is a list of ways to feel better and relieve stress. Instead of turning to drugs, try the techniques above.
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