For individuals in recovery, relapse is recognized as something to be prevented as all costs. Stress management and stress reduction will reduce the risk of relapse. Conversely, when stress increases, so does relapse risk. Stress management skills are relatively simple and to learn easy to put into practice. Renowned research psychologist Terry Gorski, in his book, Learning to Live Again, writes, “People who have addictive disease are stress sensitive.” He goes on to explain that for some, the stress sensitivity is a preexisting condition which causes them to be more susceptible to addiction, for others the stress sensitivity is a result of damage from addiction. Either way, it’s essential for recovering persons to learn all that we can about stress management and to take special measures to reduce stress in our lives.
Stressors present themselves in our lives each day. Some we can avoid, others we have no power to control. Whenever possible, remove yourself from stressful situations or eliminate the stressor. When confronted with a challenge you cannot eliminate or avoid, you can still reduce stress by changing your perception of what is happening. You can also reduce stress by relaxing in spite of the stressful situation.
Relaxation techniques include breathing exercises, muscle tension / relaxation, exercise, laughter, meditation, prayer, and visualization.
A simple de-stressing breathing exercise is as follows:
Inhale slowly through your nose, saying to yourself, ” I am,” then exhale slowly through your mouth and say, “…relaxed.”
Try tensing different muscle groups for a few seconds, then release and relax. Take a walk, a run, a bike ride. Go to a movie, a park, a dance. Listen to your favorite music or read an inspirational book. Having fun and laughing are terrific stress reducers. Remember, it is your reaction to the stressor that determines the degree of stress you will experience in a given situation. And you can use stress management techniques to help relax in spite of a stressful situation.
Stress management is an essential part of your kickass recovery program!