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How Are You Handling or Dealing with Stress in Recovery Life

I started my recovery journey in late 2020 and realized I did not know how to handle or deal with stress in an appropriate way.  In the dental field as well as in regular life, stress is unavoidable.  I learned about many techniques through different types of therapy sessions, talking with others in recovery, and Caring Dental Professionals.  The real work was finding what worked for me and learning to incorporate those techniques in my daily life.

I began with small steps.  Learning to appreciate the small things, like being outside in nature or talking with a friend where I was totally engaged in the conversation.  I realized that life is full of experiences I could appreciate when I wasn’t consumed by the thought of when or how I could get my next drink to numb my insecurities and anxiety.  The ability to feel, see, and hear things all the time was eye opening and refreshing.  I was able to feel true emotion without relying on taking a drink.   

Soon I realized some days would require more effort.  When the stress mounted, I needed additional help.  Instead of looking for something to dull my senses and block my overwhelming stress and anxiety, I needed a constructive, positive way to relieve my tension. Exercise became a huge part of my life.  I have always been active, but now, by removing alcohol, I was getting better results and was able to do more than I ever had.  I felt great, lost a good amount of weight and was able to discontinue my blood pressure medication completely.   My head was clear and my stress level dropped dramatically.   

Another huge part of dealing with stress for me came in prayer and meaningful conversation with others in recovery.  I realized I was not alone.  Others were dealing with some of the same issues I was dealing with and just talking and listening made me feel as though life was going to be ok and that I was not on an island.  

Praying helped me by calming me down.  It helped me to focus and stop worrying. One of my favorite sayings is, “worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.”  I now work hard every day to pray instead of focusing on worrying.  Although not all of my prayers were answered the way I wanted or as quickly as I wanted, many times I found that they were answered in a way that was better than what I originally wanted.   

Although I still have stress in my life, these coping mechanisms have helped me.  There are days (you know the ones) that I rely on every single one of them, but as the stress fades I realize the gift I have been given.  The gift of a clear mind, healthy body, and positive future.  The gift of sobriety!