Stress management is something people may take for granted they can do on a regular basis. Until it is no longer an option to make it work, people often think they can manage their stress levels well. Maybe a doctor’s visit, friend’s concern, or an intervention point out that things are not going well in that department. Learned behavior can be challenging to shift. Stress management is intentional and comes from an internal space where people have to think about how to navigate stress before it happens so they can implement a plan at that exact moment. The brain and body can’t process what to do while in distress but reducing stress is possible once a person has the right tools.
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5 Things to Help You De-stress in Recovery
1. Create Mindful Mornings
One of the best ways to wake up every day is to give some time over to mindfulness and meditation. When it comes to waking up, the last thing people need is to zoom off late into the day and forget to eat, breathe, and plan for the day ahead. Some days are like that, but other days it is possible to get some time to reflect on basic mindfulness practices. This little change can create a less rushed morning. It might look like some time in centering prayer, some thoughts or ideas to get the day rolling written in a journal or a mindful practice of sipping tea and eating breakfast before going out the door. It does not always have to be about meditation in a seated position. It might also be about the practice of being mindful that brings the best results.
2. Set Up for Success
Every day, it helps to have a succession plan that can be implemented. This means thinking through how the day is going to look start to finish. The easiest way to begin is with a routine. Think of it this way: the day is full of temptations and triggers that will take eyes off the prize of recovery. A too-full day will cause stress. All these issues can be changed by establishing a daily routine. Set measurable goals, live with intention, and plan the structure that works. If it is setting a morning, midday, and evening space aside, that is key to finding hope for success on that day. The next day will take care of itself but at least give yourself room to be successful today.
3. Seek Goodness
Stress builds because people forget to seek out moments of goodness every day. Maybe it was a coworker smiling on the way into work, maybe it was a nice memory of a vacation or a reminder that something good is coming down the road. Feeling stressed takes away the joy and replaces it with anxiety. Choosing to focus on a pleasant task or idea is intentional. Stress levels will lower and the brain will feel better when it has less on the plate to worry about and more good things to focus on.
4. Beat the Street
No matter what the weather is like, it is possible to find a place to go walking. It might be the mall, the library, or the local gym’s walking track and treadmills. If going outside for a run or walk is not possible, it helps to look into physical activity in other ways. Stress builds and it continues to derail a person’s recovery until they have nothing left to give. Exercise lowers cortisol, releases endorphins, and improves sleep. It will also boost confidence. It helps to get out there and exercise by just walking a little at a time. If more rigorous exercise is needed, it is important to seek avenues of exploring those spaces to burn some calories and have some room to stretch those muscles and de-stress.
5. Social Connections
The final piece of the puzzle for lowering stress is to ask friends and family to spend time together. It is hard to spend time with people in recovery because there are concerns over triggers. There may also be family and friends who are frustrated because of the addiction issues that came up over the years. It is best to hang out with family and friends who are supportive and will enhance a person’s well-being just by being around them. Social connections can also come from friends and co-workers or friends in recovery circles. They are likely to be there when nobody else will be and understand the stories that are told without judgment.
Seeking spaces to de-stress should not be challenging. It just means being intentional about seeking the opportunities in front of you to get out there and do the work. If it becomes hard, then talk to therapists and members of your recovery community who may be able to point you back to what your goals are and ways to get back to that point where you are working the plan you have and feel supported in the meantime.