If you are in recovery from substance use disorder, how you cope with stress and anxiety is very important and needs to be monitored carefully.
Stress, unfortunately, is part of life and learning new, sober coping mechanisms is part of the process. Burnout and addiction, especially in those working in executive fields, is on the increase as is self medication to cope with stress.
So more people are suffering from lifestyle-related diseases like diabetes or heart disease and it can be difficult to spot the symptoms of drug addiction until it is too late.
This chronic stress culminates in withdrawal from society, isolation and often workaholism.
Workaholism is just as damaging to your long term mental health and just as destructive to your home life as substance abuse. In fact, many workaholics also cope with the increasing demands they make on themselves and begin to take drugs or alcohol to relax, to stay awake, to retain focus which in the long run is not sustainable.
With no active down-time, a person loses their resilience and ability to recharge. Without taking a break and committing to self-care, it becomes more a struggle to endure. Resilience is about how you recharge, not how you endure. Life is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Pace yourself.
Without making a conscious decision to look after your mental health, you may become vulnerable.
Building resilience is key to relapse prevention and something that needs to be practised continually. This is why a good rehab will offer a continuum of care programme or aftercare service once you have completed the in-patient primary care. You could also opt for an outpatient rehab programme as many people do not have the luxury of taking time off.
The hard reality but for most people, they will have to return to the workforce at some point, if not immediately after completing in-patient treatment.
This may well trigger all the familiar coping mechanisms. The key to resilience is trying really hard, then stopping, recovering, and then trying again. Again, the most important part here is stopping and recovering.
But what does that mean?
Here are a few things you need to learn if you going to manage your stress levels:
- Learn to set boundaries and say ‘no’
- Create a realist set of goals
- Give yourself a little longer to complete a task
- Choose where to focus your energy
- Practice mindfulness and meditation to clear pervasive thoughts
- Start seeing a local therapist for emotional guidance
- Start taking time to appreciate the things you have achieved success in
- Spend more time with friends and family that build your self-esteem
- Stop distorting your life issues with substances
- Start looking at your relationships and personal life goals and start working on things that give you inner peace not money, power or status.
- Stop worrying about the past and future and keep focused on achieving your immediate goals
This sounds quite simple. It is, but in practice, it will take patience and mindfulness, yet over time is where the value lies as you will be in better command of your life, thoughts and feelings as a human being.