It’s important to understand how stress can derail recovery from addiction or mental health issues. Here’s how to manage stress for full recovery.
If you haven’t experienced stress before, then you probably don’t have a heartbeat; it is a part of living. We feel that familiar pressure on the chest, body sweating, heart racing, and stomach-churning feeling when we experience stress. This can come before a job interview, when a bill is overdue, after a job loss, or over minor things like a messy home or change in routine. I feel minor to major feelings of stress at least once a month, and it affects both my body and mind, but I have learned to control it.
Yes, I still experience stress, but I choose the way I handle it. Stress can derail recovery, and that is why it is important to recognize, prepare, and manage it.
Effects of Stress On the Body
When you are placed in a stressful situation, the body immediately reacts by releasing hormones. These hormones help you fight or run from immediate danger, like a stranger stealing your wallet. Once the situation has passed, the nerves relax, the heart slows, and the body calms down. If a stressful situation continues for long periods of time, the body begins to break down. Too much stimulation can cause nausea, weight loss, depression, mental fatigue, and compulsive addictive decisions.
Also stress can derail recovery by preventing the frontal lobe from developing completely in earlier years. The frontal lobe is the part of the brain that thinks through decisions and acts instead of reacts to environmental stimuli. If the frontal lobe doesn’t develop all the way, a person is more prone to making compulsive and impulsive choices. These choices can be anything from excessive spending to drug and alcohol abuse.
How Stress Can Derail Recovery
I am always surprising people when I tell them about the correlation between stress and relapse. They can’t quite grasp the power stress can hold over someone. Not only can it throw a strong person off a clean path, but it is often the reasoning behind their addiction in the first place. Chronic stress is a major risk factor to drug and alcohol addiction; people use drugs and alcohol as a way to escape a difficult period in life.
When you repeatedly turn to alcohol as a way to deal with stress, the mind and body are slowly trained to reach for that glass whenever a stressful situation arises. During recovery, you have to learn to deal with stress in a very different way. Past stress can also resurface during recovery. A person who experienced a traumatic event while young might suffer from impulse control. While trying to remain sober, the impulse to do drugs can be overwhelming, but while you can’t change past traumatic experiences, you can learn to replace impulsive choices with positive, healthy ones.
While stress is a risk factor for addiction and relapse, recovery is still possible. Don’t feel as though you are doomed to fail; you can succeed. I haven’t stayed clean by avoiding and making my stress go away. No, my body and mind have both learned to deal with it in healthy ways. I practice yoga to calm my nerves and strengthen my spirit. I write to release my angers, frustrations, and fears.
I go on walks to overcome compulsions and pass urges. I fill my life with positivity, but most importantly, I plan for stress. My days and weeks are scheduled out as a way to avoid procrastination and with at least an hour of free time. This hour gives me time to tackle stressors and leaves me room for myself. Another huge stressor is money, and having a budget with money in savings is a way to prepare for future problems. Stress is something we can’t escape, but we can prepare for it and face it proudly. You can successfully recover, and knowing how to battle your stressors is a way you can protect yourself from future falls.
Stress and Rehab at Morningside Recovery
At Morningside Recovery, we understand that stress is one of the biggest factors in battling relapse. Therefore, we teach our clients healthy coping mechanisms and offer many alternative addiction therapy services, such as holistic therapy and adventure therapy, to teach them new hobbies and life skills. To learn more, call us today at 855-631-2135