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Managing Stress In Recovery

by Landmark Recovery

September 5, 2020
Individuals greeting eachother at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting


The pandemic is taking its toll on people in recovery in Oklahoma City.

Isolation and joblessness are triggering many to relapse.

If you’re in recovery, you must find ways of coping healthily, even if the world is changing in many ways.

After a successful detox in a treatment center like Landmark Recovery in Oklahoma City, you should be armed with ways to stay strong in your recovery.

Stress is the enemy of recovery.

Negative emotions like anger, frustration, anxiety, and depression can trigger cravings.

The trick to staying strong in recovery is knowing yourself and how to manage those emotions when life throws you a curveball.

It’s going to happen: setbacks are a natural part of life.

As you know, addiction is a brain disease, not a moral failure. Prolonged substance use changes the chemical make-up of the brain.

But, the good news is that the brain still has plasticity and you have the power to rewire your brain. Once you learn to successfully manage your emotions in stressful times you’ll develop new neural pathways and it will become easier over time.

Like you develop physical strength in the gym you can develop mental strength.

So what can you do when it all gets overwhelming?


Get To The Bottom Of It

Firstly, you need to be more vigilant than normal of your emotions. You may get stressed without realizing it. If something out of your control makes you angry or upset, this can trigger those negative thoughts that lead to relapse.

Stressful events are inevitable. The key is watching your emotions as they arise. When you get a craving you need to learn to take a step back and ask, “Hang on, I’m craving. What’s going on here?”

Maybe it’s a money worry or someone cut you off on the highway? Stop and question this rather than reacting blindly.

Once you identify the underlying thoughts that are driving the cravings you can develop a strategy to think more positively. For example, if you’re worried about your bills try thinking, “I’ll ring the electricity company and negotiate a payment program.” Don’t just worry without coming up with a solution.



A woman exercising in a gym.

When you’re stressed, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol and feel-good chemicals like dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin reduce. Exercise is proven to generate endorphins which put you in a better frame of mind.

If you get stressed, try going for a bike ride, a swim, or even gentle yoga to slow your heart rate. You’ll soon feel better and be able to approach the situation more healthily.


Be Mindful

Practicing mindfulness meditation regularly is proven to reduce stress in the long term. Mindfulness-based stress-reduction techniques teach you to be present in your body and mind.

You can slow down racing negative thoughts by sitting quietly with your eyes shut and observing your thoughts. This process enables you to disentangle your emotions from your thoughts. Just sit breathing gently and watch the thoughts come and go –  you’ll soon start to feel much calmer.

Try scheduling regular mindfulness meditation sessions into your daily life. Doing this regularly will train you to de-escalate racing thoughts when you’re upset up about something.

You could also register for free online mindfulness meditation classes here.


Eat Right

A bowl of oatmeal and fresh fruit. Having a nutritious diet is essential when you continue your life after recovery.

Sometimes you might get “hangry,” a vile mixture of hungry and angry. It’s possible to feel highly stressed when all you really need is a good meal.

Feeding your body with protein, vitamins, and minerals is a great mood-booster. A delicious healthy meal packed with nutrients will certainly help you to manage stress more effectively. Make sure you’re getting at least five fruit and vegetables a day, and drink plenty of water.



Lack of sleep will certainly hamper your ability to manage stress. If you’re having problems sleeping, performing some intense physical workouts during the day will help to tire you out and set you up for a better sleep.

If you can get to a sauna, this is a great way to prepare you mentally and unwind in preparation for a restful sleep.

If you can’t manage this, try a lovely hot bath with lavender oil.

Even just sitting quietly to read a book is restful, or anything that takes your mind off things.


Attend A 12-Step Program

Individuals greeting eachother at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting

12-step meetings are a powerful resource for times of stress in recovery. The fellowship is an anonymous, safe place where you can vent freely and no one will judge you.

You will likely encounter other people who are experiencing similar struggles to you. If you have a sponsor, contact them. They are strong in their recovery and handle the stress in recovery very well, so they will remind you of your higher power and help guide you to a better frame of mind.


Make A Call

Sometimes, simply venting to a friend who cares and knows how to cheer you up is all you need.

If you feel depressed, anxious, or stressed, pick up the phone. If you have a great sponsor that you get on well with, they can help get you back on track and staying strong. Before you reach for any substance, get on that phone first.


Get Out Among Nature

A walking path outdoors that people can hike on

Getting out in the countryside or by the sea can be incredibly soothing. If you’re stressed about something, go for a long walk in a park or forest if you can. Pay attention to what’s around you, the birdsong, the leaves, and the colors. The fresh air will energize you and calm you down.

Work out which methods of stress relief work best for you to manage your stress in recovery. Every time you manage to soften negative feelings when stressed you get stronger. Many people manage to stay in recovery despite facing horrendous life challenges. That means you can too.


What To Do Next

If you find yourself stressed by any aspect of your recovery, don’t hesitate to call us today at 888-448-0302. One of the friendly Landmark Recovery team will be delighted to help you get back on track.


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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.