5 Ways to Help in Overcoming Stress
Overcoming stress can be hard. This is especially the case if you’re going through addiction recovery, when your body will be primed for stress and therefore far more susceptible to it. Though there will be some strong root causes with complex, long term treatment needs, there are also plenty of small scale environmental and viewpoint changes you can make on a daily basis to help you to combat stress.
We’ve rounded up a few of each to help you in overcoming stress.
If you find yourself overreacting to stress or being plagued by anxiety too often, these five tips and tricks could help you a great deal.
Techniques for overcoming stress
1. Overcoming stress means seeing your trauma
If you find yourself overreacting to stress, it’s probably because you have experienced some form of past trauma. When you appear to overreact to stress, you are reacting both to the present stressor and in part to your past experiences. This may be unconscious, but it is there.
Overcoming stress can be hard without addressing the trauma that lies behind it.
This can be particularly important for those going through addiction recovery. Addiction is itself a trauma. Recovery can also be traumatic. Addiction also often arises as the result of past trauma. Disentangling your addiction and emotions from this trauma will help you through recovery and will help you to overcome stress.
Stress reactions often make a lot more sense when viewed through this lens. Learn about your stress and stressors. Think back to your past traumas. Consider seeking professional help with somebody who can help you to work through any trauma within your past.
You will likely find stress a lot easier to manage in time as you come to terms with your past and process it.
2. Recognise how your past colours your present
With trauma in mind, you will need to identify where past events are influencing your current stress levels. This will help you to learn more about your anxiety and, eventually, to overcome recurring stress.
This need not necessarily be trauma. Some experiences can colour our responses without being traumatic.
For example, you may have experienced a bad dentist at some point – not bad at their job, but with a poor bedside manner and perhaps slightly heavy hands. This can lead you to treat your new dentist with apprehension. You may be more stressed sitting in the waiting room than the situation warrants.
Learn where these past experiences are causing current stress levels. Doing so may help you to see more current situations in a clearer light, helping you in overcoming stress.
3. Focus on cognition
Your cognitive processing style can contribute to how you view situations. Learning more about it can help you in overcoming stress more ably.
For instance, you might find yourself overreacting to texts from friends. If you’re prone to stress and anxiety, you might need greater positivity than normal for validation. Without it, you may see the world as being somehow hostile and dismissive.
You might read more into it than is actually there, which can in turn increase anxiety levels. You might read hostility in your friends’ texts that isn’t actually there.
If you know this about yourself, you will be in a good spot. Reread texts after a few hours. You will often find yourself reacting a lot differently.
We all have these kinds of patterns. Learn what makes you feel the most stress. Take as objective a view of it as you can. This will allow you to better balance your reactions. Next time you find yourself imagining or pre-emptively reacting to a worst-case scenario, ask yourself what the best case is.
Generally, the truth will lie between the two and your brain will take you to these far more relaxed situations.
4. Know there is an external world out there
We often think of stress responses as something entirely personal. You react to the world. However, if you want to truly overcome stress, you need to know that this isn’t always the case. External factors play on our emotional responses to an extraordinary degree.
Learn which situations and factors make you feel the most stressed. Either avoid them where it is practical and healthy to do so, or, more likely, learn how to better cope with them. Planning is everything in overcoming stress.
For example, if a particular journey is stressing you out, make sure that you plan things in advance, buy any tickets you need, leave room for delays, and plan to leave your house with time to spare.
If you are due to attend an addiction recovery meeting, and it is stressing you out, consider asking a friend to take you there. Or meet your sponsor there five minutes beforehand and go in together. If it’s your first time, phone the coordinator ahead of time to introduce yourself and make that initial meeting less impactful.
Acknowledge that outside factors stress you out and try to work with them, interacting with them in a healthy, positive way.
5. Know your strengths
Our strengths and weaknesses are often laid bare by stressful situations. You will learn very quickly where you are strongest. You will also learn where you are most vulnerable. However, the more aware you are of your strengths, the more able you will be to bring them to the table to deal with any problem at hand.
For example, if you know that you are patient and good at creative problem-solving, you will know that you can overcome stress in a given situation by stepping back and thinking of a good solution.
Try to develop new strengths, too. Your current abilities are far from fixed. There is always room to grow, expand, and strengthen yourself. You can gain skills and improve your strength simply by going out and addressing stressful situations. Attending that first addiction recovery meeting will do wonders for your self-confidence and probably social skills, for example.
However, don’t be afraid to acquire new skills. For example, if you know you’re not patient, this can be something to work on. If you know you react too impulsively, try stepping back, taking a breath, and deferring any judgements by even just a few seconds.
These will all be great tools in your arsenal for overcoming stress.
Overcoming stress in addiction
Stress is intimately associated with the hormone cortisol. Your body releases cortisol during periods of stress, immediately after releasing fight or flight hormones like adrenaline. Cortisol can help you to remain alert. Among other things, it triggers glucose release from your liver stores, which will raise available energy. From an evolutionary perspective, this keeps you safe.
However, when cortisol is overproduced, as it often is, it can make us more reactive to stressful situations. It can contribute to heightened anxiety levels. In order to overcome stress, you will need to limit cortisol production.
This is harder during addiction recovery. Most addicts have a heightened fight or flight response due to trauma and extended periods of prolonged stress, both mental and physical. In turn, overreacting to stress can put a recovering addict at a much higher risk of relapse.
Therefore, it is far more important for those recovering from addiction to overcome stress – to practice the above techniques, to seek out professional help where appropriate, and to speak regularly to your healthcare provider about your stress and anxiety levels. If you are struggling with stress, reach out to your sponsor, support network, or any organisation designed to help.
Our community Wellness hub may be a good place to start. We have plenty of articles designed to show you how to manage stress, keep temptation at bay, and lead a healthier, more positive life. Techniques such as yoga, exercise, meditation, breathwork and mindfulness are all worthwhile, and we explore them all in depth.
We also offer a safe space to talk about your own stress, your own journey, your own wellbeing. Join our free Community hub and take a look at the resources we have on offer. It may be exactly what you need to help yourself to overcome stress.
Reducing Cortisol: What you need to Know about the stress hormone
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- Chronic Stress, Drug Use, and Vulnerability to Addiction -https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2732004/
- 7 Ways to stop overreacting to stress - https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/in-practice/202206/7-ways-stop-overreacting-stress