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Great Ways I Have Found to Handle Stress In My Recovery

Prior to Recovery, I had plenty of stress in my life and a fail proof way to handle it. My substance of choice was the perfect way to unwind and avoid thinking about stress.  As they say in the Rooms, “ it worked until it quit working”.

Recovery has given me a new life and with that new life, new ways of handling my feelings, particularly the feeling of being stressed. Here are my favorite ways to combat stress in my life. Take what you like and leave the rest behind.

  1. I focus on what I can control. This is the most important lesson I have learned. What can I control? Only me and my attitude. As Bill states in the Big Book, and I paraphrase loosely, I developed a million resentments because people, places, and situations did not conform to my liking. ( And a million forms of stress). Lesson #1: Let all that sh.. go!
  2. If I find myself stressed in the moment, I can try some slow breathing techniques. The breathing technique I find most useful is the 4-7-8 technique. Empty your lungs of as much air as you can, inhale to the count of 4, hold your breath to the count of 7, then slow exhale to the count of 8. Repeat about 4-5 times. The slower exhale actually will lower your blood pressure. I can practice breathing like this anywhere. I can excuse myself to my office during a busy work day and just take a break. Lesson #2: Remove yourself from the stress!
  3. Recognize that things do not have to be perfect. Let’s face it, we were educated to produce work that is perfection. Crown margins that fit to the micron, no wispy shadow of sheet calculus when the tooth is desiccated with air! No wonder we are stressed when we feel we are not perfect. In recovery, I have come to accept that being imperfect is part of being human. As long as I try my best, it’s all that is expected of a good person. The dishes are left in the sink? So what! I’ve ordered take out 5 nights in a row? I am supporting the local economy! Who cares?
  4. Do something that brings me joy! Studies show that laughter will lower our stress levels. I get together with friends regularly and laugh at myself and them, usually at meetings! I snuggle with my puppies! They really lower my stress and give me unconditional love. I love to knit and crochet, hobbies are good for lowering my stress and I feel like I am being creative! I listen to music and binge watch TV( probably not too good for me, but it will take me out of myself and lower my stress). I love sports, especially Carolina Hurricanes hockey. Going to a game brings me a lot of joy, may increase my stress, but ultimately gives me something fun to look forward to and having fun is a stress reducer!
  5. Finally, I stay spiritually connected. Prayer and meditation keep me close to my Higher Power. If I am spiritually grounded, I know that I need not fear the outcome of anything in my life. I have to get up and do the next right thing or the next thing right and my Higher Power will take care of the rest! Keeping this thought close to my heart keeps my stress at bay.