Six Healthy Lifestyle Changes That Can Lower Stress

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One of the first things you learn when undergoing treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD) is the importance of holistic care. The well-being of your mind, body, and soul is essential to recovery. Stress commonly occurs during treatment for substance use and can cause distress if you are not prepared to cope with the side effects. 

According to a 2011 research paper from the University of Pittsburgh, “stress is one of the major factors in drug abuse, particularly in relapse and drug-seeking behavior.” Many human and animal clinical trials have shown that stress significantly impacts the risk of developing SUDs or relapsing after treatment. How you react to stress can affect your sobriety.

A life completely free of stress is impossible, and the United States National Library of Medicine lists three common types of stress. You may identify with one or more of them. Effective treatments and coping skills exist to help you successfully work through any of these types of stressors. 

  1. Chronic regular stress occurs due to daily pressures at work, school, interpersonal relationships, or other everyday circumstances.
  2. Stress from significant life changes, including losing your job, divorce, or the unexpected death of a loved one. 
  3. Acute and trauma-based stress often results from being severely injured or in fear of your life. Examples of this type of stress include surviving a natural disaster, domestic abuse, or a severe accident. 

The Importance of Proper Nutritional and Physical Health

Emotional or psychological distress often causes stress, but physical health plays a role as well. Some risk factors for chronic stress include:

  • Not enough restful sleep
  • Lack of home/work-life balance
  • Emotional or physical side effects of nutritional deficiencies caused by poor diet
  • Some medications can affect stress responses and increase anxiety
  • Significant life changes such as a move, divorce, or change in financial status
  • Severe sickness, injury, or disability
  • Relationship or interpersonal problems
  • Increased work pressures such as shorter deadlines or longer hours

There are physical and emotional side effects you may start to notice if you often feel overwhelmed or stressed. Below are a few of the more common ones. 

  • Sleep disturbances including oversleeping, insomnia, and interrupted sleep
  • Difficulty focusing, racing thoughts, and memory issues
  • Exhaustion and lethargy or an anxious energy
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Physical aches and pains, including headaches and muscle tension

Six Ways to Create a Healthier Lifestyle 

There are a lot of methods for lowering stress levels, but every person and circumstance is unique. What works for someone else may not work for you. Sometimes you need to try a couple of techniques before finding the one that helps you the most. 

Decreasing internal and external pressures and learning how to cope with stressful situations can lower the risk of relapsing or return to past unhealthy habits. Below are six easy ways to create a healthier lifestyle to decrease stress. 

  1. Practice Mindfulness: meditation, relaxation, and practicing mindfulness can go a long way toward decreasing day-to-day stressors. One easy way to do this is by setting aside ten to fifteen minutes each day to focus on deep breathing exercises while clearing your mind of distractions. Doing this will leave you feeling more centered, focused, and better able to cope.
  1. Pursue Holistic Treatments: you need to nourish and heal your body, mind, and soul in equal measures. Holistic treatment looks at all aspects of your well-being and strives to provide ways for you to improve overall. There are many approaches to holistic treatment, including those focused on supporting your transition to a healthy, sober life. 
  1. Stay Positive: consciously choosing to remain positive and look on the bright side of situations will improve self-efficacy and decrease stress. You can use several methods for building positivity in your life. One of the easiest ways to get started is by making a physical or mental list each day of all the good things you experience instead of the negative ones. In time this will become an automatic process. 
  1. Set Up a Healthy Routine: many rehabilitation programs initiate some form of new, healthy routines to keep you moving forward each day. 
  1. Create a Strong Support System: your support system can include anyone you trust who you know will support and encourage you as you continue with your recovery. Friends, peers, therapists, sponsors, and family members are a few of the people that you can include in your support system.
  1. . Regular Exercise: relapse prevention is made easier by practicing certain types of activities. Research has shown that regular exercise and other physical activities like sports can decrease the risk of relapse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adult exercise at least two and half hours a week.

Modern-day life is full of inherent stressors that can impact your ability to create a healthy and happy sober future. One way to keep everyday stress and pressures from affecting your mood and recovery is by consciously choosing to change your lifestyle for the better. Big and small changes can make a difference in your mental and physical well-being. At Everlast Recovery Centers, we believe that every person deserves to live a happy and successful sober life. We are here to help by providing educational programs and therapies to give you the tools you need to create a healthier future. Stress does not have to control your life. You can transform your daily routine, thought processes, and behavior patterns with a few easy, straightforward changes. To find out more information about our services and programs, you can reach out to Everlast Recovery Centers by calling us today at (866) 338-6925.

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