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Stress Management: Top Skill Needed for Successful Recovery

A couple go for a walk and play with their dog to help combat stress, practice stress management, and prevent relapseStress management is a top skill needed for a successful recovery. Early detection and prevention of stress are key in managing it. Learning how to recognize stress and finding ways to combat it, are not the same for everyone and are not always easy. As we’ve discussed before on the blog, the relationship between addiction and stress is strong, so addressing stress management early in your recovery is crucial to preventing relapse.

Most people ignore early warning signs of stress. This causes the symptoms to worsen and increases the severity of the situation. Substance abuse and stress cause a vicious cycle. Drugs and alcohol are often used to self-medicate the uncomfortable symptoms of stress, but ultimately drugs and alcohol increase stress, further compounding the problem.

People experience both psychological and physical symptoms of stress.
Some signs of physical stress are:

  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • neck, shoulder, back pain
  • digestive problems

Some signs of psychological stress are:

  • anxiety or feeling overwhelmed
  • difficulty concentrating
  • depression
  • constant feelings of worry or guilt
  • mood swings or irritability

Stress can be caused by many things. It’s important to learn what are sources of stress for you. People who suffer the most from stress often have difficulty with adjusting to life changes, meeting unrealistic expectations, daily routines and personal relationships. Some common sources of stress are family or relationship conflict, work or school, finances, and health.

The first step to managing stress is making a plan to recognize and address it. Ask yourself: what are my physical and psychological signs of stress that I should watch for? What are certain situations that increase my stress levels? What activities and daily routines can I add to my life that will help me relax and combat stress? (Look for things that you enjoy doing that make you feel calm and happy.)

Remember managing stress is a skill that continuously needs to be practiced. Don’t take on too much or over-commit yourself in the beginning of recovery, regardless of how good you feel. Set realistic goals, work towards better managing your time, and focus on finding the right balance of work and play.
Some key habits to manage stress:

  • daily exercise
  • healthy diet
  • regular sleep
  • leisure activities that you enjoy and relax you
  • daily time/habit each day that you unwind, such as meditate, listening to music, or a bath
  • Connect regularly with those in your support network

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