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Recovery is a stressful time in life. Those in recovery may not be able to express the amount of stress that they are experiencing. Those with loved ones in recovery may not realize that not using is a very stressful time for those in recovery. Recovery means that everything in life is changing. Suddenly the addict can no longer use a substance that was at one time a needed constant in life. Additionally, the addict will need to make further changes in daily routines, finances, and overall health. It can be highly stressful to make so many changes at once. This means that healthy coping mechanisms are highly important throughout recovery.
Addicts have coping mechanisms, unfortunately, these mechanisms usually involve using more of or doing more of whatever the addiction of choice happens to be. So one of the first steps or skills in recovery that need to be learned are healthy coping mechanisms. Life does not discriminate. Life is still going to offer physical and emotional pain, challenges, and interpersonal conflict, even when in recovery. No one can get out of life unscathed. Substance abuse or any addiction is a coping mechanism, though not a healthy one. So what are positive alternatives?
Some basic coping mechanisms that are typically used, which are also unhealthy, are denial, avoidance, displacement, passive-aggressiveness, or even procrastination. These will get you nowhere and the problem still exists, so try the following: exercise, focusing on the positive, practicing gratitude, journaling, meditation, talking it out, turning pain into something useful, or even deep breathing. While no one of these coping mechanisms may correct the problem, they will help you deal with the issue causing the problem. Each will be described in further detail below.
Getting out and getting active may not solve your problems, but it will help you feel better and think clearer. The same is true of talking things out as sometimes saying things out loud makes them less stressful or helps you realize the problem is not as big as it seems at first. If you have no one trusted to talk to, then write out what is happening in a journal. Meditation and deep breathing may work for many as this helps you relax and get centered. When you are in the center of a problem and only focused on the negative, then it can quickly become overwhelming. Try to learn to focus on the positive.
There is always some small positive in every issue. Even if the positive is just learning from your mistakes. If none of these techniques work than redirect your pain, stress, and anger into something productive. Use anger and stress to take up boxing or use the intense focus on arts and crafts instead of total focus on an issue. No matter what healthy alternative you choose, find something that works for you.
Coping mechanisms are important for all aspects of recovery. For those new to recovery they can be life saving. If you have a loved one in recovery help keep them focused on the good and be encouraging. Understand that their life is changing and it will be stressful, even if it is for the better. No matter what led you to this article, know you are a good person that can learn positive coping mechanisms if you are willing to try.
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