Stress is a silent killer among many Americans nowadays. It becomes even more of an issue when people are not able to cope with it in a healthy way. Some turn to substance use, which requires treatment, and then struggle to manage their stress in recovery. For those individuals, learning coping skills and techniques is vital to maintaining long-term sobriety and managing stress in recovery.
Life post-treatment will come with many challenges. You will have to deal with these stressors in your newfound life of recovery. However, treatment can teach the necessary skills to cope with stress, and recovery is where you can put those skills to the test. Reach out to West Coast Recovery Centers if you or someone in your life is struggling to manage stress post-treatment today.
What Is Stress?
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) defines stress as a “physical and emotional reaction that people experience as they encounter challenges in life.” Situations at work or within our personal lives can cause anxiety, frustration, and fear, and our bodies naturally react. Our brains will respond differently to this stress, too. When this happens, the body releases hormones that produce a fight-or-flight response. This can significantly affect our blood pressure or heart rate.
Experiencing stress is normal day-to-day, which the body can naturally manage for many people. It can motivate us to accomplish work tasks. Some people may even work better under stress and pressure. However, constant long-term stress can impact your mental and physical well-being, even leading to the development or worsening of chronic conditions.
What is Chronic Stress?
Not all stress is harmful, but long-term or chronic stress can significantly harm health. It may last for weeks, months, or years. But understanding it can, hopefully, help you recognize when stress is beginning to take a toll on your overall well-being.
Some common causes of chronic stress include:
- The day-to-day demands of work, school, or family
- Stress due to sudden life changes, such as losing your job or getting divorced
- Traumatic stress, which occurs when someone is in danger of extreme harm or death
Overtime, unmanaged chronic stress can cause you to:
- Get sick frequently
- Experience headaches
- Have trouble sleeping
- Become sad, angry, and upset easily
- Experience symptoms of other mental or physical health conditions
So, how do we learn to start managing stress in our lives and avoid chronic stress and its long-term consequences?
How Do We Learn to Start Managing Stress in Our Lives?
We typically learn how to manage our stress from a young age. Parents instill healthy coping skills into us as a way to cope with the stress of school, peer pressure, and growing up in general. But as we know, not everyone has the chance to learn healthy coping skills in a loving, stable home environment.
Coping with stress often requires you to first determine your tolerance for stressful situations. As an adult, there are ways to start learning healthy coping skills. But does a lack of stress management skills in early life lead to addiction later on? Why do people turn to substance use to cope with their stress?
Does a Lack of Stress Management Skills Lead to Addiction?
Some people wonder if stress makes them more susceptible to addiction. Chronic childhood stress is linked to a higher chance of developing substance use disorder (SUD). But that is not the case for everyone.
When we lack healthy stress management techniques, we sometimes turn to drugs and alcohol. These substances can numb the pain, make us feel more relaxed, or help us forget our problems. Unfortunately, any relief we experience is only temporary, and on top of dealing with stress, many now have to deal with addiction.
Another factor to consider is the presence of a co-occurring mental health condition. It is not uncommon for people to experience stress because they are trying to deal with symptoms of a mental health disorder like depression or anxiety. Seeking treatment for those conditions can also help you learn how to manage your stress without substance use.
Tips and Tricks to Managing Stress in Recovery
Exposure to stress when trying to recover from SUD can cause you to relapse, especially during early sobriety. For that reason, you must find a treatment program that can teach you healthy stress management techniques.
Some tips and tricks to help you manage stress in recovery are:
- Visualizing and imagining solutions for stressful situations
- Mindfulness and meditation to improve stress by clearing your mind and staying calm
- Taking on hobbies to distract you from stress, triggers, and cravings
- Learning to be realistic and accept situations you can not change
- Exercising, as the release of endorphins can improve mental well-being
- Eating healthy foods to take care of your body can improve your mood and reduce stress
- Getting enough quality sleep allows your mind and body to heal from the effects of stress
- Spending time outdoors by going for a walk, hiking, or gardening
- Trying different breathing exercises to calm your nervous system
- Sharing your thoughts with trusted friends and family members or a therapist
There are many other ways to manage stress while in recovery. Reach out to West Coast Recovery Centers to learn more about managing stress in recovery.
We all experience stress in our everyday lives, from the responsibilities of work, raising a family, or caring for elderly parents. But for individuals in addiction recovery, managing stress can be more challenging. Unfortunately, we do not all learn healthy ways to manage our stress, which can cause us to use substances as a coping mechanism. But this can quickly lead to substance use disorder (SUD) and cause more problems for us. Thankfully, treatment can help you recover and teach you the skills necessary for managing stress while staying sober. Consider utilizing these tips and tricks to manage your stress post-treatment, and call West Coast Recovery Centers at (760) 492-6509 for additional help today.