Managing Stress After Rehab
Successful recovery can be a demanding job. Add to it the pressures of daily life—work, family, relationships, finances—and the result can be considerable stress that may rob you of health and strength. No wonder the National Institute on Drug Abuse rates stress as the leading cause of relapse into drug or alcohol dependency. However, there are many productive ways to manage stress after rehab during any stage of your healing.
Listen to Your Body During Recovery
Your body will send you signals that it is in need of help. According to the American Psychological Association, the symptoms may include headaches, muscle tension, upset stomach, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, loss of appetite, dry mouth, and chest pains. You may experience anxiety, irritability, and some memory issues. Once your doctor assures you that there are no physical reasons for these symptoms, try stress management strategies—you will be surprised by how quickly they can improve your life.
The Healthy Diet
Before you started your alcohol treatment, opiate treatment, or other addiction treatment, you may have practiced eating habits that were not the best. Possibly, you may have even been malnourished, due to substances that prevented proper absorption of nutrients. However, it is a proven fact that much of the damage done to organs and tissues, including the liver, pancreas, and the brain, can be repaired through a proper diet. While you are staying at the facility, you’ll be eating the right foods. But once you are on your own, say, during outpatient rehab, you should start making changes. Repairing your body can be a key to manage stress after rehab.
- Eat breakfast every day. You need to fuel your body to have an active day.
- Drink plenty of water, while reducing coffee, tea, and soda.
- Reject processed foods. Particularly if you don’t understand the ingredients listed on the label.
- A plant-based diet is the best. Eat plenty of vegetables, both cooked and fresh, and enjoy seasonal fresh fruit. If you prefer having meat, stay with fish and chicken but avoid red meat, bacon, and cold cuts.
- Reduce your intake of sugar.
- Rely on fiber-rich foods, such as brown rice, beans, and quinoa. Buy only whole grain bread.
Before you start exercising, consult with your medical practitioner to determine if you are ready for physical activity. Then, begin slowly and carefully; rest assured, even a few minutes a day are beneficial. Easy activities such as walking, swimming, yoga, and dancing all are enjoyable ways to the path of good physical fitness. Along with a healthy diet, taking up exercise will not only help manage stress after rehab, but can help you get into shape, too.
Many support groups, such as AA and NA, have subsections of those who attend that form their own workout groups and meet up a few times a week. Ask around your local support group, perhaps some of the more in-shape of the bunch, and learn if they get together after meetings or during the week. If not, it could be a great opportunity to start your own!
You need restful sleep. Easier said than done? True. Even the Journal of Addiction Medicine admits that among the recovery population, insomnia is widespread—five times more than in the general population. But getting plenty of sleep can be done. Try these recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation.
- Avoid over-the-counter sleep medications.
- Create a comfortable bedroom. Turn off the lights, let in the fresh air, and change your sheets often. Banish the smartphone and the TV, and if your neighborhood is noisy, invest in a white noise machine.
- Stop eating at least three hours before you go to bed. You can drink a warm beverage during that time, but no solid food.
- Go to sleep and get up at the same time every day, including weekends and holidays.
- Shut down all digital equipment at least an hour before you go to bed, and engage in a relaxing activity such as reading, knitting, or listening to music.
Manage your Mental Stress
- Deep breathing. Sit comfortably, place your hands on your lap, and start breathing slowly. Count to five breathing in, hold your breath for one or two counts, and count to five breathing out. Do it 7–10 times. Do it as needed at times of stress, or just repeat it morning and night.
- Meditation. A highly recommended way to stress reduction. Classes are available at many community centers and health centers, and even online.
- Yoga. Combining poses, exercises, and breathing, this ancient system harmonizes mind and body.
- Mindfulness. The art and science of living in the moment and following your thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and the surrounding environment in a nonjudgmental way.
- Talking to friends and journaling can bring stress relief.
We Are Here for You—24-7!
If stress becomes overwhelming, additional therapy might be the solution. Our complete dual-diagnosis treatment program, for mental health combined with substance abuse, may be just what you need. Check out our many options here. If you feel overly stressed or anxious at any time, our number is 855-699-5159, or you can have a live chat with a friendly and supportive representative by clicking the chatbox on the bottom right.