“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life…
Live in the moment, live in the breath.”
– Amit Ray, author of “Om Chanting and Meditation”
Search for “stress quotes” online and you’ll be inundated by hundreds, if not thousands, of them. It will possibly become a little stressful if you decide you need to read all of them, as if you would find the one at the end of the rainbow which was going to magically do away with any stress you might be feeling right now.
Here’s another one…
“Keep calm and carry on.” A personal favorite, like the one above.
This one, however, began life as a motto over in Britain during World War II. If you look at the history of the place back then, you can understand it must have been a pretty stressful place to be when the sirens started wailing, forewarning you of the massive bombs that were about to start dropping around your head, and that you had to get yourself down an air-raid shelter as quick as your legs could carry you.
It’s intention was this: to emphasize that problems are better solved when people are (and can remain) calm and collected.
This quote clearly can also apply to the recovering alcoholic or drug addict, and I should know.
Having spent most of a young life abusing meth and alcohol, recovery has been a long and challenging road to travel for me, and I still walk it everyday over 9 years later. However, I got the help I needed when my parents finally took matters into their own hands and drove me into the next state to a drug and alcohol rehab facility.
My name is Andy, and I’m now a 30-something entrepreneur with my own business. Just as importantly, I’m as clean and sober as the day I left the rehab, a drug and alcohol addiction recovery facility in Idaho, that gave the tools to recover and continue recovering from my addiction. Many of those tools were about dealing with stress, which, as you can imagine, is one obvious way for an ex-addict to relapse.
Here are a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make today to deal with any stress effectively, and making it much less of an issue as you embark on your journey towards addiction recovery:
Simple stuff, but it works, believe me. As you breathe, concentrate on using your whole diaphragm rather than just your chest. Your stomach should rise as your lungs fill from the bottom. In this way, you are stimulating your vagus nerve, one of the cranial nerves that connect your brain to the rest of you.
Stimulating this nerve provides a relaxing response.When this happens, the parasympathetic nervous system is turned on, levels of cortisol are subsequently reduced, and a brain damaged by severe substance abuse can actually begin to heal.
Never underestimate the value of a sound night’s sleep. In order to maximize your chance of a good, deep sleep, you must be made aware of those factors that contribute to healing rest. Such sleep factors range from reducing any naps you may take, limiting your caffeine intake throughout the day, establishing set times for your meals, and creating a positive bedroom ambiance, eg. softer lighting.
In addition, but one of the most important, stay away from blue light screens an hour before bedtime. By blue light screens, we’re referring to televisions, computers and even mobiles. Doing this can help to relax your eyes and your mind.
Dietary advice is not something that can be applied in the same way to every individual. However, there are basic guidelines that recovering addicts can use to eat healthier meals and snacks. If you have known food allergies, you should always actively avoid those foods so you do not stress your body. Furthermore, you should stay away from junk food, except for occasional exception, where it can become soul food.
All healthy, balanced and nutritious diets have fresh fruits and vegetables at their core, as well as healthy grains and protein sources. Additionally, a couple of simple rules need to be followed:
- Avoid eating until you are full, and
- Avoid giving in to every temptation for food
Time was, socializing for me was just another way to feed my addiction, to get high and to get drunk (or too get both). Very quickly, it became less about enjoying the company of others and more about feeding my ever-hungry addiction.
Early in my recovery, I learned that I needed to choose my friends carefully. Believe me, people you thought were your friends are like those people who slow down when there’s been an accident on the highway – they love to see blood, as long as it’s not theirs. Friends who did not take my commitment seriously soon realized that I made excuses not be be with them, and that even included some of my own family members.
Instead, I sought out friends and family who understood what I was going through and who could support my vow to remain alcohol and drug-free for the rest of my natural. If a recovering alcoholic focuses on more active forms of social involvement, such as dancing, sports, or volunteer activities, they’ll be less stressed about the environment that they find themselves in.
The benefits of a healthy lifestyle far outweigh the possible drawbacks – not enough time, blandish food, etc, etc. Excuses. As an addict, I know plenty about them. Staying clean and sober is far easier when an exercise regime is included in your stress management.
One clear benefit is the increase in endorphins after exercising. These endorphins reduce pain receptors and also trigger positive feelings in your body, providing a kind of natural high, and a safe one at that.
The feeling of well-being that accompanies exercise is the best alternative to the negative and damaging effects of drugs and alcohol. Setting and reaching your new goals of running or working out will also improve your self-confidence. It doesn’t have to be confined to a local gym either – try to walk every day outside for the relaxing effects of nature and fresh air.
Whether you regard it as meditation, prayer, or mindfulness, the ability to be still and to reflect without interruption is absolutely vital to reducing stress. These moments of silence is when we are most in touch with our inner selves – our aspirations, our challenges and our hopes.
Mindful meditation provides benefits that are essential to your stress management. A little more biology now. The part of the brain that regulates levels of stress and anxiety is the amygdala, and by practicing meditation, you are positively affecting this function. Meditation can also stimulate the hippocampus, which controls your memory and your learning ability.
For many recovering addicts, myself included, meditating equals calmness – a pretty important quality if you wish to remain stress-free during recovery.
These 6 tips to managing your stress effectively as you recover from addiction will reduce your anxieties about your life and your future. So, by following what’s written here, you are giving yourself the very best chance of a successful recovery. This stress management program is designed to take the burden away from any mundane stress, so recovering addicts can keep their focus on staying clean and sober.
What are your experiences regarding stress management? What particularly works for you? Please let us know with a comment below. And remember, “Keep calm and . . . carry on,” as they say.