A common cause of substance use disorder relapse is stress. Given that stress can play a leading role in the development of a substance use disorder, it’s no surprise that high levels of stress during the recovery process can also play a role in relapse. Effective stress management can help to prevent a relapse, but how can you start to change the ways you manage stress?
Improving your health
Some stress management techniques involve respecting and treating your physical body in order to improve your mental health. A healthy body has a healthy mind since exercise releases endorphins – your body’s natural way to fight stress. This stress management technique can not only help you push back on the urges to drink but will also improve your general well being.
Getting a good night’s sleep can dramatically improve your ability to deal with stressors throughout the day. Where you can, try setting rules for yourself about sleep in order to ensure you get enough. Avoid blue lights before bed (that means most phones and computer screens), don’t eat where you sleep, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to instantly sleep once you’re in bed. Make sure you set yourself a sleep schedule that you stick to every day.
Acknowledging the stress
Identifying potential stress ahead of time – knowing which things are likely to cause trouble – and then acknowledging this stress as it comes around is a good way to reduce stress overall. Many people feel stressed when there is a lack of control in a situation, so taking control of your own thoughts and addressing them puts you back in the driver’s seat.
Giving you the tools
Relapses caused by stress are often triggered because people don’t have the processes in place to deal with stress in other ways. Committing to giving yourself the tools to deal with stress in other more positive ways means you’ll have those tools for the rest of your life. Experiment with these until you find something that sticks. Remember that this is a process and not an overnight instant relief.
Asking for help
Relapses happen, and it’s important to remember they’re not moral failings. Asking for help can be a key factor in successful and sustained recovery so don’t be afraid to turn to family and friends, as well as professionals for help. Being proactive and seeking help can be a pivotal point in your journey.
Talk a therapist about your treatment options and don’t forget to ask them about how stress management techniques can assist you.