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7 Healthy Ways To Reduce Stress For Recovering Addicts

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Whether you’re a recovering addict or not, stress can be a huge trigger to self-medicate.  That’s why it’s important to know that there are healthy ways to reduce stress that you can start implementing right now.

Stress In Early Recovery

Getting sober is one of the most challenging and stressful things you will ever do.  Although choosing recovery is always the right decision, it can definitely take you out of your comfort zone and feel very intimidating.

Not only are you dealing with the day-to-day stress like most people, you now have a whole new set of stressful situations to overcome.

If you hit rock bottom before getting clean, you probably made a huge mess of your finances and your relationships.

You might also be participating in an outpatient treatment program, dealing with legal issues and going to 12-step or other recovery support meetings.

Now that you’ve removed the drugs and alcohol and your mind is clearing, you might be feeling overwhelmed with everything you’ll need to do in order to get your life back on track.

There’s a lot on your plate.  Your stress level is at an all-time high, and the one thing that you’ve always turned to for coping with stress is no longer an option.

So now what??

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7 Healthy Ways To Reduce Stress For Recovering Addicts

First things first, no matter how much stress you’re dealing with, please follow my golden rule.

You Will Not Use, No Matter What

Make it your mantra, write it on your forehead if you have to, but don’t use drugs or alcohol as a way to reduce your stress.

I promise you, it will make everything, including your stress, 100 times worse.

Related Post: 7 Warning Signs That You Might Have A Drinking Problem

You will get through this and there is a brighter day on the horizon.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to 7 healthy ways to reduce stress!

1. Vent with Exercise

Stress can cause all sorts of energy to build up.  You might even find yourself with a clenched fist and trembling arms. Telling yourself to calm down is just probably going to cause even more stress.

If you’re feeling a lot of pent up energy and need a release, exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress.

Skills You Need explains, “These are the “fight or flight” hormones that evolution has hard-wired into our brains and which are designed to protect us from immediate bodily harm when we are under threat.  However, stress in the modern age is rarely remedied by a fight or flight response, and so physical exercise can be used as a surrogate to metabolize the excessive stress hormones and restore your body and mind to a calmer, more relaxed state.”

How Exercise Helps With Your Recovery

Exercising releases your “feel-good” endorphins.  Not only will it help reduce your stress, it’s also a great way to distract yourself if you’re experiencing drug cravings.

  • Go for a jog or a long walk
  • Brush up on your swimming skills
  • Join a competitive team

Next time you feel like you’re about to explode, get your body moving and you’ll most likely get some relief.

2. Talk To Someone

Asking other people for help is something a lot of people struggle with.  This can be even harder when you get into recovery.  You might feel like you’ve already put people through so much while in active addiction that you don’t want to be a burden.  So, you try to deal with everything on your own.

However, the more you keep what’s bothering you to yourself, the more chaos it’s going to cause internally.

You need to be open about your stress. The Adrenal Fatigue Solution recommends, “find someone who you trust, such as a friend or a counselor to confide it. Give them as much information as you feel comfortable disclosing, but it should be enough for them to offer you some kind of advice, should you request it.”


If someone asks how you’re doing in a way that clearly indicates concern, instead of saying you’re “fine”, tell them what’s really going on.

Many times just being able to talk about something that’s stressing you out will help you realize a solution.  At the very least, it’ll make you feel better just to have it off of your chest.

3. Put The Serenity Prayer Into Practice

There’s a reason that 12-step groups refer to the Serenity Prayer so often.

Saying it is one thing, actually putting into practice is another.  Just in case you’re not familiar, let’s have a look at it.

Whether you’re in touch with your spirituality or not, the Serenity Prayer offers a clear way to reduce stress significantly.

Accept The Things You Can’t Change

A lot of times, it may seem that other people’s actions are causing your stress.  You have no control over what anyone else thinks, says or does, so stressing over it is a complete waste of your energy.

If there’s something causing you stress that is out of your control to fix, let it go.

Make Changes To Eliminate Stress

When you are feeling overwhelmed by stress, take a look at everything that is contributing to that stress.

What is within your power to fix?  Do yourself a huge favor and make the changes necessary to the things you have control over.  This a surefire way to reduce stress, at least to an extent.

Put Things In Perspective

Having the wisdom to know whether something is within your control or not may take a little practice.

Look at stressful situations objectively, so that you can put the other two principles into practice.

Related Post: 10 Books That Will Empower You To Be True To Yourself

4. Take Care Of Your Body

If you’re looking for one of the easiest ways to reduce stress, start with taking care of your body.

When you’re fueled by stress, it’s likely that you will start to neglect even your basic needs.  Taking care of yourself will keep your mind and body healthy, keeping you better equipped to handle what life throws at you.

  • Get the right amount of sleep every night
  • Eat nutritionally balanced meals
  • Drink plenty of water

5. Start Saying “No”

Another way to reduce stress almost immediately, is to start saying “NO”.

Dealing with your own responsibilities, especially in early recovery, can be overwhelming on it’s own.  Saying “no” doesn’t make you a bad person, and you don’t have to feel guilty about doing it either.

If there are optional activities that you really don’t want to participate in, don’t.  If you’re invited to attend an event that doesn’t interest you, respectfully decline.

This is your life and you only get one, so don’t spend your precious time taking on unnecessary stress.

6. Indulge In A Hobby

Having a creative outlet will help you manage and reduce your stress.  If you don’t already have a favorite hobby, I highly encourage you to find one.

When I got sober, my boyfriend bought me supplies to make jewelry.  I had never even considered making jewelry, but I actually really enjoy it!  I’ve become quite the bead-hoarder 🙂

Anyway, when I make jewelry, it completely takes my mind off of all the things that are stressing me out.

If you’re not sure where to start, Creativebug is a great resource for finding fun and unique ideas for DIY projects or a new hobby.  Start a free trial and get unlimited access to 1,000’s of classes that will walk you through creating something truly unique and fun!

Here are a few other ideas to consider:

  • Learn to play an instrument
  • Write short-stories or start a blog
  • Learn to knit or crochet
  • Get an adult coloring book and colored pencils


7. Begin Self-Care Rituals

You need to show proper respect and love towards yourself to reduce stress.

Self-care involves more than just taking taking care of your basic needs, as mentioned earlier in this post.  It’s about doing things that are good for you and bring you pleasure.

You can stimulate your mind with a good book or reward your body with your favorite healthy meal.

Don’t let stress distort your thinking to the point that you believe you don’t deserve happiness or good things in life.  You need to remember just how much there is to celebrate in life.

Finding even small ways to reward yourself can make a huge impact.

  • Take a hot bubble bath
  • Unplug for a day (no phone, laptop, etc.)
  • Have a bonfire with a few friends

Self-care rituals can frequently be objective, so find one that is right for you.

There Will Always Be Stress

Stress is just a fact of life and to a certain degree, it’s actually a healthy driving force.

Using healthy techniques for managing your stress, like those in this post, show that you are serious about your recovery.  

Without healthy alternatives, stress can drive you back to using drugs or alcohol.  Stay aware of your body’s cues that you’re getting overwhelmed, and find a healthy way to reduce stress that works for you.

You’ve got this!!

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Life Of An Addict

After losing everything to an addiction to opiates, I decided to get help and began my addiction recovery. This is my journey, which will hopefully help someone else realize it is possible to live a happy life without drugs.

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