Instant Stress Relief Techniques

Stress is a significant factor in the development of addiction. People who are feeling overwhelmed often turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to relax and get through stressful periods. Unfortunately, using addictive substances to relax create dangerous patterns as more and more of the substance is required to reduce stress, which in turn, leads to more stress.

It’s easy to understand why stress is dangerous during the first weeks and months after addiction treatment. Even the stress of day-to-day events or conflicts associated with career, finances or family can trigger relapse when sobriety is new and precarious.

Once you’re aware of the early warning signs, you can use on-the-spot techniques to help minimize the harmful effects of stress, including possible relapse.

  • In today’s fast-paced culture, we are often advised to “take something” to minimize stress and tension. However, learning how to cope with stress in a positive way is nearly impossible if one is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and often, prescribed medications.
  • Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but it’s possible to minimize its effects without resorting to drugs and alcohol or destructive behaviors such as gambling or compulsive sex. Practicing relaxation techniques when you’re calm will help you maintain an even keel when life’s stresses threaten your wellbeing and recovery.
  • Learn to spot the early signs of stress. Pay attention to your body because it will give you clues. These clues are called "somatic markers", where emotions show up in the body. For example, you may notice that your muscles feel tight or your jaws are clenched. You may feel queasy or have a headache. For some people, early signs of stress are a feeling of frustration, restlessness, or a quickened heart rate. You can train yourself to notice these signs and take them seriously.
  • Try and slow down for a minute and practice deep breathing techniques. Breathing affects every part of your body and breathing deeply is one of the best ways to relieve stress instantly. Put your hand on your belly and close your eyes. As you concentrate and inhale deeply through your nose, you will feel your belly expand with air. Then, breathe out with pursed lips while you let your belly contract. Relax your tense muscles as the air flows through your body. Repeat three to ten times.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation technique is a short and successful exercise to release tension by contracting and releasing large muscle groups in the body. You find lots of helpful information by searching for “progressive muscle relaxation Jacobson technique“, there are also lots of instructional videos on YouTube.
  • Emotional freedom technique or EFT also provides simple instructions on how to relieve stress through simple tapping techniques on your head and face. Again, plenty of instructions are provided on the web, simply search for EFT and Tapping.
  • Get moving. If you don’t have time for a workout, take a brisk walk in the fresh air. Exercise releases endorphins – neurotransmitters that reduce stress and bring about a feeling of wellbeing. If you absolutely can’t get away, dance around the room, run in place, squeeze a stress ball, or simply stretch your muscles. And finally, consider enrolling in a Yoga and/or meditation class, or, if you can, engage a personal instructor. Ancient wisdom traditions have developed these over millennia; the effects on the body and mind are increasingly supported and explained by western science.

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