Drug addiction treatment and recovery 4: Learn healthy ways to cope with stress
Learn to effectively reduce stress
Watch 3-min. video: Quick Stress Relief
Even once you’ve recovered from drug addiction, you’ll still have to face the problems that led to your drug problems in the first place. Did you start using drugs to numb painful emotions, calm yourself down after an argument, unwind after a bad day, or forget about your problems? After you become sober, the negative feelings that you used to dampen with drugs will resurface. For treatment to be successful, and to remain sober in the long term, you’ll need to resolve these underlying issues as well.
Conditions such as stress, loneliness, frustration, anger, shame, anxiety, and hopelessness will remain in your life even when you’re no longer using drugs to cover them up. But you will be in a healthier position to finally address them and seek the help you need.
Relieving stress without drugs
Drug abuse often stems from misguided attempts to manage stress. Many people turn to alcohol or recreational drugs to unwind and relax after a stressful day, or to cover up painful memories and emotions that cause us to feel stressed and out of balance. But there are healthier ways to keep your stress level in check, including exercising, meditating, using sensory strategies to relax, practicing simple breathing exercises, and challenging self-defeating thoughts.
Strategies for quickly relieving stress without drugs
You may feel like doing drugs is the only way to handle unpleasant feelings, but it’s not. You can learn to get through difficulties without falling back on your addiction. Different quick stress relief strategies work better for some people than others. The key is to find the one that works best for you, and helps you calm down when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed. When you’re confident in your ability to quickly de-stress, facing strong feelings isn’t as intimidating or overwhelming.
- Exercise releases endorphins, relieves stress, and promotes emotional well-being. Try running in place, jumping rope, or walking around the block.
- Step outside and savor the warm sun and fresh air. Enjoy a beautiful view or landscape.
- Yoga and meditation are excellent ways to bust stress and find balance.
- Play with your dog or cat, enjoying the relaxing touch of your pet’s fur.
- Put on some calming music.
- Light a scented candle.
- Breathe in the scent of fresh flowers or coffee beans, or savor a scent that reminds you of a favorite vacation, such as sunscreen or a seashell.
- Close your eyes and picture a peaceful place, such as a sandy beach. Or think of a fond memory, such as your child’s first steps or time spent with friends.
- Make yourself a steaming cup of tea.
- Look at favorite family photos.
- Give yourself a neck or shoulder massage.
- Soak in a hot bath or shower.
Adapted from helpguide.org