Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
10 Ways To Stay Sober & Manage Stress During Your Recovery
Published Apr 15th, 2021 & updated on Apr 15th, 2021
Recovery isn’t an easy thing to do. “Thanks, Captain Obvious!” Yaaaa, we know, we know! But it’s true! You basically have to ignore every urge and cue that your body is sending you. We know, and you know, that it took soooooo much fucking work to get to this place in your life and you are NOT ready to mess it up.
We want to see you succeed and THRIVE so here are 10 ways to help manage your stress and stay sober during your recovery!
1. Know Your Triggers
This is a biiiig one! Think about what people, places, and circumstances make you want to relapse. Maybe it’s an emotional state that makes you want to revert back to your old habits. Whatever it is, make sure that you avoid it so that you have the best chance possible at staying sober!
Here are some common triggers to look out for:
- People or places related to addictive behaviour
- Difficult emotions
- Seeing or sensing the object that fuels your addiction
- Celebratory events
- Financial problems
2. Recognize Relapse Warning Signs
If you’ve entered the recovery process before, you might know what it looks like when you’re about to relapse. If you do, make sure that you keep your eye out for the warning signs. You know yourself better than anyone, so we can’t tell you what those might be, but here are some common signs that you might be about to relapse:
Change In Your Attitude
You might decide that going to therapy, or keeping up with your recovery program or sponsor, just isn’t as important as it used to be. You might think that something feels wrong or off, but you just can’t put your finger on it.
If you find that you aren’t reacting to change well, or are having large mood swings or outbursts of emotion, don’t be afraid to reach out for some extra support when facing a stressful situation. It’s normal to experience anxiety or stress while in recovery, so don’t be ashamed if you need to ask for extra help.
This old friend might come back to say hellooooo. It might look a little different this time, though. Instead of denying your addiction, you might be denying stress. You could be convincing yourself that everything is fine and that you don’t need to address the stress you’re under — or any other emotional factors that are impacting your recovery. Allow yourself to feel all the feeeeels!
Sometimes withdrawal symptoms last much longer than we might anticipate. Anxiety, depression, memory loss and insomnia can last longer than we want them to. These can be hard to cope with because you might feel tempted to soothe yourself and give in to your addiction.
Watch your reaction to people, places and situations where you become defensive, argumentative and reactive. Of course, these are natural emotions to have and experience, but if the situation doesn’t really call for it, then you might need to reach out for help.
You might start feeling uncomfortable when you’re with others and want to hermit away and hide. We get it! But it’s important that you keep going to group therapy, and relying on your support system.
Lack Of Control
You might be making irrational choices and can’t seem to help yourself! These decisions could be related to your addiction, or just be reckless life choices (like buying a dog that you don’t have the resources to take care of).
You’ve stopped group therapy, regular therapy, talking with your sponsor, completing your treatments or taking your medications.
3. Change Your Routine and Social Groups
Sometimes, keeping up with our old routines (and seeing the same people we saw when we were using) can make us want to use again. So, change up the game! Get some new, healthy habits that make you feel good and avoid temptation.
This also might mean finding a new group of friends to hang around with. If your friends were the ones tempting you in the first place, you might have part ways. It’s a hard thing to do, but you have to think about what moves are going to be in your best interest.
4. Build Healthy Relationships
Make sure that you’re surrounding yourself with people who are going to be good for you. These will be people who have your best interests in mind and genuinely want you to succeed in your recovery.
They aren’t going to pressure, or tempt, you into going back into your old habits. And they’re going to be the ones that support you endlessly with infinite amounts of patience and care.
5. Be Prepared For PAWS
PAWS? Like, puppy paws? Unfortunately, no. PAWS stands for Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. Initial detox and withdrawal symptoms tend to subside after about two weeks. But sometimes if a person has consumed a significant amount of a substance for a long period of time, these symptoms can last from 6 months to 2 years.
Good news is that even though PAWS can suck SO much, you are able to control it with the help of medical professionals. Those who specialize in treating addiction, and aiding a person’s recovery process, can help you work through this process without relapsing.
6. Use Online Recovery Tools
If you’re reading this in 2021, we’re uh…still in a pandemic. If you’re reading this in the future, how is it? Better?
Anyway, if you’re still in the same timeline as we are, and unable to access in-person treatments, or live in a really remote area, online support options are amazing!!
There are a lot of online support groups and treatment options. Mental health professionals and therapists are now conducting appointments by Telehealth or other video platforms. Isn’t technology awesome? It’s helping make mental health treatment so much more accessible and we looove it!
7. Stay Connected To Your Support Network
Whether it’s your support groups, your therapist, your family, your friends or alllll of them combined — stay in touch!
Think of your recovery like building a house. Your support network is the foundation! They’re there to help keep you strong, and help you to build yourself up each and every day!
So, keep in touch with them. Stay connected! And don’t be afraid to reach out when you need help.
8. Find Distractions/Activities You Enjoy
Sometimes to stay sober, we need to keep our minds and bodies busy to help us work through any feelings, cravings, or urges we might have.
So, make sure you find things to do that you enjoy! Spend your time experiencing things that make you happy. Happiness will positively impact every aspect of your life, so make sure that you’re indulging in some healthy, happy (and really fucking awesome) things that bring you the most joy EVER!
9. Communicate Openly
Don’t hold it in! If you think that you need to talk to someone, TALK! Pushing your emotions, feelings, urges and thoughts deeeep down doesn’t help at all. It’s healthy to need to talk about the hard things you’re experiencing, and it’s a lot to take on as just one person. The people in your life love and care about you, so don’t be afraid to lean on them for support and talk to them when you need help. They’re there to love you and help you stay sober!
10. Celebrate Your Milestones
GET SOME PARTY HATS AND CELEBRATE, BABY! You have worked incredibly hard to stay sober and get to this point and you need to celebrate every single accomplishment. One day sober? Celebrate! One week? Get yourself a cake! One month? Celebrate again! You deserve to feel good about what you’ve accomplished and how far you’ve come. You’re proving to yourself that it IS possible to succeed in your recovery!
We hope that this helped! Maybe it gave you a better understanding of what to prepare for as you enter your recovery journey, or maybe it just served as a reminder of how to care for yourself as you move forward with it. Whatever the case may be, we are SO PROUD OF YOU! Staying sober is doing the hard shit and we can’t give you enough props for it. Keep on keepin’ on, friend!