One of the primary forces that lead men and women to drink or use drug excessively is their inability to handle stress. Granted many people who struggle with addiction do have a lot of psychological and emotional stress. Experiences such as trauma, violence, fighting, and loss within families can create significant emotional stress. From these experiences, feelings such as grief, depression, despair, hopelessness, low self-worth develop and people turn to drugs to manage these challenging inner experiences.
If you’re in recovery and you’re still experiencing cravings, triggers, and relapses, perhaps you’re still dealing with large amounts of stress. Perhaps you’re still facing emotional and psychological challenges. If you can learn to manage this stress in a healthy way, you might also find that you’re cravings and relapses lessen or disappear altogether.
One challenge with managing stress is that you need to be aware that you’re stressed in the first place. If you’re someone who is used to stress and who faced chronic emotional and psychological stress in the past, then you might not even recognize that you’re feeling under pressure. However, when you’re aware that you’re stressed, that’s a great position to be in. At that point, you have a choice to use a coping mechanism that’s healthy for you. At that point, you can stop and choose what you would like to do next.
One thing to keep in mind is that even when you know the healthier choice, sometimes you might still make an unhealthy choice out of habit or because you know how it’s worked for you in the past. For example, someone might drink when they are stressed, without really giving it thought. However, if you know that you’re stressed and you can take some time to think about what would be the healthiest ways to relieve that stress, you’ll be making healthier and healthier choices for yourself.
Below are some ways to relieve stress that can replace having a drink or using drugs:
- Focus on the present to redirect your attention on what’s going on for you right now. This can empower you to make a new choice instead of unconsciously making a choice you’ve always made to relieve stress.
- Say no to requests that are going to add pressure to your life.
- Exercise is another way to relieve stress. It can also enhance your mood, improve circulation, widen your perception, and increase overall physical health.
- Meditation is another substitute for unhealthy coping mechanisms. It is a practice that can help you stay present and facilitate making healthy choices for your life.
- Deep breathing can be an incredibly important tool, especially if you experience panic or high amounts of stress throughout your day. Breathing deeply can be done right in the middle of a stressful moment to stay clear minded and centered.
- Calling upon the help of a friend can also be useful. Sometimes feeling emotionally unstable or overwhelmed can lead to a craving for a drink or drug use. However, in those moments, calling a friend to talk about your feelings can be a safer option.
These are stress relieving options to consider when you’re feeling stressed instead of turning to drugs or alcohol.
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