By The Recovery Village Ridgefield
Last Updated: May 30, 2023
Editorial Policy | Research Policy
Stress is a major relapse trigger for people who struggle with substance abuse issues. Discover tips on how to effectively manage stress without abusing drugs or alcohol.
The Connection Between Stress and Substance Abuse
The American Psychological Association (APA) shares some plain talk about something you experience every day: stress. According to the APA, stress can be a positive motivator but too much of it can make you sick – or kill you. Many people do not handle stress well, and when their coping mechanism is alcohol or drugs, it typically just makes things worse. Self-medicating in an attempt to eradicate stress may lead to increased risk for addiction.
Healthy Coping Mechanisms for Stress
How can you alleviate some of the daily fears, frustrations, and anger building up from work deadlines, relationship pressures, and even traffic jams? It seems like the entire world is designed to add to your stress level; something has got to give. Too often the temptation is to go drinking or do something else unhealthy, but this just makes things worse. Here are eight ideas on ways to cope:
- Take control of your stress by stopping and simply thinking about where the stress is originating. Is it money? The kids? Work? Getting a handle on stress means slowing down long enough to start planning how to change how you react to the stress. If the issue is money, would it help to sit down and do a budget to get your finances in order? If the stress is at work, what strategies could change the environment?
- Turn off your digital devices and let your brain relax. Studies are showing that constant connection to digital stimulation is actually a cause of stress and even short-term memory loss.
- Take a walk. Exercising creates euphoria; just ask runners about their “runners high.” Exercise is a proven stress reliever.
- Smiling or laughing is a huge stress reliever. The APA says your facial muscles grow tense when you are stressed. But when you laugh or smile, it relaxes your face and your body. Comedy club, anyone?
- Try yoga and meditation as a way to slow the mind and focus on breathing and relaxing while gently stretching the body.
- A warm or hot bubble bath with a good book or soothing music is always relaxing.
- Try to cut down on some of the daily tasks you take on. Is there a task that can be delegated away? Can the kids ride with someone else to go to an after-school activity? Are you volunteering for a cause that you simply cannot handle any longer? Do you really need all those meetings at work? Are you bringing work home?
The next time you are hit hard with daily stresses, do not pick up a drink or a pill. Use these strategies to help get a handle on what is stressing you out.
If you have been choosing alcohol or drugs as a stress-reduction strategy and an addiction has resulted, help is available. Contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield today to learn more about admissions and take a positive step toward regaining control of your life today!
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.
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