Feeling Stressed? 10 Healthy, Drug-Free Coping Strategies

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Once you or a loved one leaves treatment for a substance abuse disorder, you will need to replace harmful coping strategies with healthy ones. During treatment, you will identify some of these harmful behaviors (i.e., using drugs and alcohol, engaging in self-destructive behavior) but others may take a bit longer to discover.

The coping mechanisms that you use to relieve stress and anxiety will also come easier and more natural over time. But in the meantime, how do you deal with stress positively? After all, the body is programmed to go into fight-or-flight mode when you feel stressed.

Below are ten healthy, constructive ways to cope with stress in your life as you recover from your drug or alcohol addiction.

1. Practice a Relaxation Technique

As you know, your body has a physical reaction to stress in the environment. Relaxation exercises manage these symptoms. You can use them in two ways. Practice deep breathing or yoga for a few minutes each day to relieve negative energy. You may also use these exercises when you are feeling overwhelmed.

2. Exercise. Exercise is Another Great Way to Reduce Stress Levels

Like relaxation techniques, you can use exercise to prevent emotional outbursts and manage stress in the moment. Anything goes – a walk to your favorite thinking spot, a spinning class or lifting weights.

3. Alter Your Attitude

It is very helpful to change your attitude, though it takes time to be successful at this. Most people struggle with it! Nevertheless, altering your attitude can help you gain a new perspective, such as looking at an obstacle as an opportunity to grow.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a wonderful way to connect with yourself and the environment around you, especially when coping with stressful situations. When you’re mindful, you can look at a situation in an objective manner rather than taking it personally.

5. Be Spiritual

To be spiritual is to love yourself and love others. Grow in your spirituality so that you are not afraid of the things that are going on around you. By being spiritual, you can trust what the universe has planned for you and know that good decisions will lead you to good results.

6. Participate in a 12-step Group

The 12 steps work. They make it easier for people to stay sober, and they provide an incredible amount of support. When you’re feeling especially anxious, be more active in your groups. You can attend more meetings or speak with your mentor.

7. Talk to Your Counselor

Another great person to talk to is your therapist or counselor. They already know the issues you are dealing and might have a thoughtful approach. Your counselor can also help you work through your anxieties by suggesting additional activities.

8. Postpone Responding

If someone or something has upset you, wait to respond. In the moment, we are much more emotional and it’s easy to let our emotions get the best of us. Take a few minutes – or hours or days – away from the situation and readdress it later on.

9. Find Something to Keep You Busy

Distraction is a great tool in early recovery. When you feel like you might be tempted to use drugs or alcohol, find something to do. Go to the movies with a friend. Visit the library. Exercise. Even talking to one person might be enough.

10. Make Sense of Your Feelings

Write in a journal about your thoughts and emotions so that you can make sense of them. Validate your feelings, but also reason with yourself. While it’s your right to feel a certain way about something, looking at it from an outsider’s view might give you a new perspective.

Are you ready to start your journey to sobriety? The River Source will help you look deeper into the emotional roots of your addiction and work with you to develop healthy coping strategies. Call us today – your call is confidential!