Receiving a paycheck is nice, but some workdays are filled with stress. Cranky co-workers, snotty clients, broken machinery, and even a soggy lunchtime sandwich can fill you with tension and tempt you to drink or use as an escape. We’ve all been there, but you can maintain sobriety with several stress relieving and meditative activities that are positive and natural.
Start De-Stressing on the Commute Home
Don’t expect the stress of the day to disappear magically as soon as you walk into your home. Instead, use the commute home as a starting point for stress relief as you practice deep breathing and muscle relaxation.
- Deep breathing: Inhale through your nose, count to five slowly and exhale through your mouth while counting slowly to eight. Repeat a few times and release the day’s stress.
- Muscle relaxation: Tense your facial muscles and hold the grimace for 10 seconds. Relax for 10 seconds and repeat with your neck, shoulders, arms and downward until you finally release all the stress from your toes.
The Mayo Clinic reports that physical activity releases endorphins, helps you feel more positive about life, and improves your mood. As a big proponent of exercise, I agree and encourage former addicts to commit to walking the dog, joining a basketball league, lifting weights, or doing another physical activity that relieves stress and tension.
The practice of meditation may release hormones that help you stay healthy. At the very least, it allows you to focus on something besides the worries and cares of your day.
To meditate, find a quiet place where you can relax. Sit or lie down and attempt to quiet your mind. You may try to think of nothing, or focus on something animate like a metronome or your breathing. Alternatively, consider praying, gardening, or doing yoga, three meditative activities that calm your mind and relieve stress.
Read a Book
A fiction, biography, or fantasy book transports you to a faraway land where the cares of your day are non-existent. Borrow library books in your favorite genre or download eBooks. If reading isn’t your preferred activity, listen to books on tape or read magazines as you use reading to relax and reduce tension.
There’s nothing like a hot, nourishing meal to lift your spirits after a tough day at work. Plus, the simple acts of chopping vegetables, stirring soup, and even washing dishes can almost be considered meditation as they focus your attention on something besides the day’s drama.
Make relaxing dinner prep possible when you plan a menu for the week and shop for the groceries on the weekend. Then, come home after work, turn on relaxing music, light a candle, put on your chef’s hat and prepare dinner. Your evening meal doesn’t have to be fancy. Just enjoy the art of cooking and the delicious meal that nourishes your mind and body.
Attend a Support Group Meeting
After a long day at work, resist the urge to wallow alone in the tension you feel. Surround yourself with people who care, understand, and love you. Whether you attend an AA meeting, go to book club, or meet a friend for coffee, relax with people and get your mind off work stressors.
Staying sober is possible. I’ve worked with hundreds of people who stayed on the wagon, and you can too. Use positive and natural stress relieving activities to assist you in reducing tension after work. Instead of reaching for a drink or drug, reach for a basketball, yoga mat, or book. Take time to de-stress. It will help you stay sober.