Managing Stress While Staying Sober

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COVID-19, the election, civil unrest, job insecurity, financial instability, emotional turmoil…the list of things that can cause us stress doesn’t seem to have any end in sight. Regular life is hard enough and the added challenge of trying to keep your recovery on track amidst the hurricane of modern living can be enough to make even the most determined among us doubt our resolutions.

Although you may be tempted to view stress as a mental stormcloud that prevents you from feeling like your true self until you can swat it away, the truth is that stress is a natural byproduct of being alive. Rather than trying to eliminate stress from your life, it can be helpful to try to learn to simply not let it affect you as much. As a person in recovery, this is an especially useful tact to take since your success lies in your determination to persist in putting one foot in front of the other, even when life throws countless challenges in your way.

Staying Sober Means Self-Assessment

Part of the added stress of sobriety comes from the fact that being in recovery is sort of like being on a sacred mission. Having a higher purpose–maintaining your sobriety and mental wellbeing–means that you’re constantly assessing everything you do to make sure you’re acting within the best interests of that purpose. It can feel like you’re your own babysitter at times, constantly looking after your future self as well as your present.

Your job, your social life, how you interact with your family and romantic partners, your workout routine, your diet, even the media you consume–these can all be factors that contribute to or hinder the progress of your recovery to some degree. Being conscious of your recovery means factoring in that extra step of cross-checking your decisions for each step of the way. It might’ve seemed challenging to get along in life before, but now every choice you make carries newfound weight.

It’s Normal to Feel Bad

The pressure to push through the stress and deal with it can rear its ugly head at trying moments, so remember: nobody expects you to just magically handle everything life throws at you without a peep. Life is hard, full stop, and anyone who’s experienced recovery directly or second-hand knows that it’s not exactly a walk in the park either. That goes for you too–don’t hold yourself to unrealistic standards for what you think you should be able to handle. It’s okay to feel bad, overwhelmed, scared, frustrated, or isolated. Don’t bottle these feelings up. Instead, try to work through them in a healthy way.

This could mean using mindfulness exercises to observe and acknowledge your feelings without letting them define you or control you. It could mean leaning on your support system of friends, family, and recovery professionals and peers for emotional guidance and understanding. Most of all, it means being kind to yourself. Give yourself some room to feel bad. You’re walking down one of the hardest roads you’ll ever have to walk. The important thing isn’t to be chipper every day of your journey–it’s to keep going.

Managing Stress Without Losing It Completely

Instead of letting stress prevent you from feeling able to achieve your full potential, it can be helpful to instead learn to view it as an unwelcome but unimportant presence, like flies at a picnic. Would it be easier to enjoy your picnic if there were no flies? Sure. Can you control the flies? You cannot. Can you control whether the flies keep you from enjoying your picnic? You sure can.

Mindfulness exercises and other forms of mental discipline are invaluable in this regard. Consider trying yoga, meditation, emotional self-assessments, and other practices designed to root your mind in the present moment and eliminate disruptive or unproductive attachments to negative thoughts and feelings. You might also find it helpful to explore healthy outlets for negative feelings, from the physical, like hiking, exercise, or sports,  to the creative, like making music or art, reading, or expressing yourself.

For some, spending time in a new location designed to promote healthy habits can work wonders. Recovery centers, residential treatment programs, and sober living spaces are worthwhile options to consider as a part of your long term wellness goals. By taking the time to focus inward and work on your well-being and mental stability with the help of recovery professionals, you can give yourself the chance to be determined and ready for whatever the world throws at you.

Developing the mental fortitude to withstand the many stresses of modern life can be a challenge for anyone; once you add the responsibility of maintaining your recovery, you may find yourself bombarded by stress. This is one of the most difficult and most important journeys you will ever take, so remember that you don’t have to go it alone. At Everlast Recovery Centers in Riverside, California, we know that recovery doesn’t end–or begin–with going cold turkey. Find peace and cultivate your approach to mental stability in our home-away-from-home facility. Our warm, professional staff are here to help you develop the physical, mental, and emotional fortitude to make it through life’s ups and downs while keeping your sobriety intact. Be compassionate with yourself–you’ve come this far and, with the right help, you’re going to overcome stress wherever it appears. Staying sober doesn’t have to be a constant battle. Call 866-DETOX-25 to learn more.

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