Healthy Ways to Reduce Stress Without Turning to Drugs or Alcohol

Creating a healthier lifestyle is essential in addiction recovery. Going back to old routines and habits can increase risk of relapse. You’re starting a new chapter in your life, so it’s time to make positive changes. One such change is learning how to more effectively manage stress.

Oftentimes people turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to relax or forget about their problems for a while. This can be problematic and increase risk for addiction as well as relapse. You must make a conscious effort to change because reaching for a drink can become a habit you have to break. Instead, you must find more constructive ways to reduce stress and improve your mood.

Stay active. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and tension. It allows you to take out that build up frustration on running, swimming, lifting, biking, kickboxing, or whatever else you like to do. Physical activity also releases endorphins which are a natural mood booster. Make it a point to schedule time for exercise into each day.

Meditate. Slowing down, calming your mind, and refocusing your thoughts can do wonders for relieving stress. Meditation is something that can be done virtually anywhere at any time. You don’t need any special equipment, and there are no time requirements. You can do it for as long or as short of a time as you’d like, and as often as you’d like.

Yoga. Yoga can help you to focus on the mind-body connection. It is a gentle form of exercise that also allows you to clear your mind and pay more attention to your body and its movements. It can be a good source of stress relief while also strengthening and toning your body.

Learn to say no. In recovery, you have to make your well-being a priority. This is not selfish, it is self-care. To keep stress in check, you need to balance your responsibilities and not take on too much at once. Sometimes you just have to say no. Recognize how much you can comfortably handle and ask for help or politely decline other requests. Don’t feel like you have to do it all on your own.

Spend time with friends. Find friends who are supportive of your recovery and lifestyle changes. Focus on spending time with people who make you laugh and feel good about yourself. They can bring a smile to your face and ease stress while also being a listening ear or sounding board while you’re working through challenges.

Journal. Get out your thoughts and frustrations in writing. Sometimes just letting the words flow – and not focusing on whether it makes sense or sounds right – can ease tension. It can put your mind at ease to put your feelings on paper. Plus, it’s something that you don’t have to share with anyone else, so you can be completely honest.

Break down big tasks. Instead of stressing yourself out over a big project or task, break it down into smaller more manageable pieces. This allows you to slowly tick things off your list and focus on getting each part done rather than worrying about the project as a whole. It can also be a great way to better manage your time so you’re not suddenly facing a deadline with tons of work left to do. You can feel more relaxed knowing that you’re on top of things.

These are just a few ways to cope with stress in your life while steering clear of drugs and alcohol. There are plenty of other options too such as finding a new hobby, listening to music, or simply going for a walk and disconnecting for a while. Find what works best for you and your needs. Crossroads helps clients to remember who they wanted to be and develop the strategies necessary for lasting recovery. Immerse yourself in comprehensive treatment and build the skills you need to stay substance-free while making the most of each day.

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