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Stress is inevitable in life, it cannot be avoided in life and is a natural occurrence for everyone. Stress in recovery can be a trigger for going back to old unhealthy habits. There are ways to deal with stress when in recovery that will help you stay calm and focused on getting clean and healthy.
First you must realize that though stress does happen, we are in control to some extent. Your reaction to a stressful situation can be the difference between the difference in staying in recovery and going back to the addiction that brought you to this point in life. Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding situations. Recovery is definitely a demanding situation, but you have made the choice to enter recovery and now must deal with that stress. Once you realize that you are now in control of your life, instead of the addiction being in control, you have the basic foundation for good stress management. Effective stress management can help you become happier, healthier, and even more productive over time. Best of all, healthy coping strategies are often free.
When stress does arise then be prepared to handle it in a way that will not negatively affect recovery. This means planning ahead. Find healthy activities that can reduce stress. These can include hobbies, spending time with friends who do not use, or simply getting some exercise. Some people find peace in meditation or religion as well. Knowing what activities relax you can help you deal in the most stressful times. If the stress is related to recovery then figure out the root of the stress and create a plan to deal with the issue. Take financial concerns as an example. Finding money to support yourself when making the drastic change of being clean can be highly stressful. Make a plan and start applying for jobs that will allow you to make your own money in a legal way.
Set boundaries with people that are creating or causing stress in recovery and enforce those boundaries. Along the same lines, respect the boundaries of others. If the stress that is occurring is simply due to day to day life then take some time out to relax and take care of yourself. A slow walk enjoying nature or spending time taking care of animals. Even just soaking in a hot bath can relieve a great deal of stress for many.
When in active addiction we tend to use unhealthy coping strategies and when stressed it is tempting to go back to these strategies. Instead start replacing them with healthier choices. If a poor decision is made, start over. Remember that mistakes happen and setbacks will occur, but if you keep moving forward after the setback then you can still reach your goals. What coping strategies do you use? Which ones are the healthiest and which ones should you do away with permanently? Once you can answer these questions, get to work on changing your reactions and ultimately your life.
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