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Recovery 101: Identify and Manage Stress, Part 2

Learning how to identify and manage stress is a key component in any addiction recovery program.Learning how to identify and manage stress is a key component in any addiction recovery program. This is the second post of the two-part blog entry about how to manage stress and reduce the risk of relapse. There are unhealthy ways to coping with stress. For example, smoking, drugs or alcohol, unhealthy eating patterns, withdrawing from friends or family, sleeping too much, procrastinating, lashing out at others or angry outbursts, are all negative coping mechanisms. These habits may temporarily relieve stress, but end up causing more damage.

Once you’ve learned to identify your stressors, then it is important to establish healthy coping mechanisms for them. You want to find methods that contribute to your overall emotional and physical well-being. As with recovery itself, there isn’t one-size-fits all when it comes to coping methods, so you need to figure out what strategies work best for you. A few techniques that may help you manage stress: you can either change the situation by avoiding or altering the stressor, or you can change your reaction by adapting to or accepting the stressor.

So, how might you put these techniques into practice? To avoid unnecessary stress, learn how to say “no”, steer clear of people who stress you out, or stop bringing up/ excuse yourself from hot-button topic conversations. To alter a situation, try being more assertive, express your feelings instead of bottling them, and being willing to compromise. To adapt to a stressor, keep focused on the positive, reframe the problem, and look at the big picture. Lastly, to accept a stressor you have to being willing to accept the things you cannot change. Try looking for the upside of a situation and learn to forgive.

A successful coping strategy includes finding time for fun and relaxation. This not only reduces stress, but it recharges your abilities to continue fighting stress throughout the day. Some suggestions: go for a walk, take a long bath, listen to music, watch a movie, or talk with a good friend. You should try to set aside daily relaxation time. Try to do something that makes you laugh. Do something you enjoy everyday and connect with people who put positive energy into your life.

Finally, a healthy lifestyle is a key element in any strategy to manage stress. Strengthening your physical health makes you more resistant to stress. Sleep, exercise and a healthy diet are the essential components.

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