lowering stress

Lowering Stress in Recovery

Why is it important to lower stress in recovery?

Before noting the importance of lowering stress, we must first understand what exactly stress is.  According to the dictionary, stress is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.”  Sinha (2001) conceptualized stress as an event that thoughts, feelings, and the body evaluate and respond to that elicits a behavioral response.  It sounds complicated, but all of this occurs simultaneously and quick through overlapping neural systems.  Both in addiction and in recovery, strain and tension can come from multiple sources.

Stress in Recovery

You might have had family pressuring you to get sober.  Now that you have decided to seek help, the family pressure looks different.  Perhaps your family complains that you are not home because you are attending meetings or groups.  You might also feel pressure from your job.  It could be that your stress is internally stemming from shame and the desire to get your life back on track.  The most important reason to lower pressure is to prevent potential relapse. 

So, what are some ways I can lower my stress in recovery?

 5 Ways to Lower Stress

  1. A few good deep breaths can change how you feel instantly.  Most of us don’t breathe correctly.  When taking a deep breath, you want to see your belly move, not your chest.  Pretend like you are smelling a sweet bouquet of flowers and then blowing out your birthday candles.  Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.
  2. Self-hug. It’s not quite what you probably think.  A self-hug is not wrapping your arms around yourself.  To do a self-hug correctly, place your right hand over your heart and your leftover your belly button.  Breathe following the instructions in tip #1.  Feeling your heart and your belly move while you are breathing helps regulate the breath and provides a sense of calm.
  3. An attitude of gratitude. Make a list of 5-10 things that you are grateful for.  It is impossible to be thankful and ungrateful at the same time (Armstrong, 2017).  Your list doesn’t need to be elaborate.  Think of things that you appreciate.  “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
  4. Enjoy nature. The old adage “take the time to smell the roses” has much truth.  Sitting in a park, on a trail, near water, or even your own backyard, you can commune with nature.  Notice the sights, sounds, and smells of nature wherever you are.
  5. Rest and sleep. Have you been getting enough sleep?  Sleep is vital to good health and clarity in thought.  Lux (2018) identified several ways to help get a better night’s sleep.  Your body and mind will thank you for being rested.

Lowering Stress Through Mindfulness

The premise of the Centered Recovery Program is based on mindfulness and understanding how your experience of life is created. Both of these have been proven to help you learn how to overcome stress in your life.  If you feel like stress is overwhelming you, contact us today at 800.566.2966.  Centered Recovery can help!


Armstrong, J. (2017, November 22). You can’t be happy and ungrateful at the same time. Medium. https://mystudentvoices.com/you-cant-be-happy-and-ungrateful-at-the-same-time-901b4c35c126

Lux, K. (2018, July 18). Having trouble sleeping in recovery? Here’s how to fix it. Workit Health. https://www.workithealth.com/blog/trouble-sleeping-addiction-help/

Sinha, R. (2001). How does stress increase risk of drug abuse and relapse? Psychopharmacology, 158(4), 343-359. https://doi.org/10.1007/s002130100917