If you are in recovery from substance abuse, 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 life style related diseases like diabetes or heart disease and it can be difficult to spot the symptoms of drug abuse 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. Resilience is key to relapse prevention and something that needs to be practiced 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 out patient 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
This sounds quite simple. It is, but in practice it will take patience and mindfulness.