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Recovery can be an awesome adventure, but just like having to pack for an entire family to take a long road trip, it can be highly stressful. When recovery or even the thoughts of recovery become overwhelming you need to find a way to destress. In your previous lifestyle the way you chose to destress was probably drugs, alcohol, pills, or some other form of addiction. The problem is the addiction at some point became a form of stress in and of itself. This form of destressing is also no longer an option because you have chosen to change your life for the better. So below are several ways to safely destress and stay healthy while in recovery.
The first thing to remember is that everyone gets stressed out. This happens whether you are in recovery or just dealing with every day life. In fact, when we get stressed out cortisol floods the system and produces the fight or flight response. This response makes us want to fight the stressful situation or flee from it because it is causing stress. This is a completely hormonal response that we must learn to override if we want to move forward in recovery and in life. When this feeling occurs you must find a way to calm your nerves and destress so you can properly deal with the given situation. This is especially important during recovery as too much negative stress could lead to a relapse quickly.
That being said, positive stress and an urgency to get things done can be a good motivator during some parts of recovery. Try some of the techniques listed and explained below to destress when the negative stress becomes too much.
Though it seems cliché, getting some exercise can lower your stress levels quickly. Something as simple as a ten minute walk or a short run can get your mind and body back into a healthy place. Some people prefer something low key like yoga. Although any way to focus your mind on something other than the problem at hand can help to lessen or eliminate stress.
Another way to destress is through the use of deep breathing. When you feel yourself getting stressed out stop and take several deep breathes. In through the nose and out of the mouth in a controlled manner will help your body to relax. Another option is to use visualization or guided imagery. Visualization is a way to visualize the stress leaving your body. You can actually give stress a form and imagine it flowing out from your toes or fingertips or whatever works for you. This may only take a few minutes, but can be highly effective. Guided imagery is a great deal like visualization, but is typically a set scene that you picture that brings you relaxation. Some choose a beach, some a field of flowers. Whatever place you could truly see yourself relaxing in is the scene you must put yourself in your mind.
If none of the above work for you then try some of these simple techniques. Buy a plant. Having something green and alive in your home can bring about increased oxygen levels and peace. Mindfully eat a snack. Take time to enjoy what you are eating, not just mindlessly shove food into your mouth. Chew gum, the act of chewing can reduce stress. Play some calming music, classical is highly useful for stress relief. Finally, step away from screens. Enjoy the quiet and solitude without the chaos that electronics can bring. A few minutes can make a huge difference.
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