How to Manage Stress in Sobriety

Getting sober is a crazy and exciting time full of changing emotions and new experiences. We hear people in meetings talk about sobriety and how great their lives are even through divorce, deaths, bankruptcy, you name it. I always thought these people were lying. How could they deal with these problems without drinking or getting high? Luckily, thanks to the 12 steps, fellowship, and a new perspective on life, I was given the gift of being able to not only manage stress in sobriety but to live an entirely new way of life.

When we first get to the rooms of AA/NA, we usually see a slew of happy faces and people talking about God and I think it’s pretty common for newcomers to think we are crazy. We can’t imagine that any of these happy people know anything about where we have been and what we have gone through, and a lot of us definitely don’t want to talk about God. I am pretty confident when I say that I had the firm belief that AA was a cult and that I would NEVER drink the kool-aid.

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Sobriety  – Couldn’t Drink, I Couldn’t Get High

But after a while of sobriety, I realized that I was going absolutely out of my mind, crazy. I couldn’t drink, I couldn’t get high, and my mind was a hamster wheel on steroids. So, after a few brutal relapses, I started to take some suggestions that I heard in the rooms, and little by little, things started to even out.

Getting sober doesn’t mean that life is going to be all sunshine and rainbows, and day to day annoyances definitely don’t just stop. We simply find an alternative to how we manage stress in sobriety, from major events to the smaller daily hiccups. 

  1. Everything is temporary, what matters is how we handle it in the meantime.

Coming from the life I was living, any problem I face these days is small in comparison. Today, after I’ve gotten a little bit of sobriety under my belt, I’m able to see that and understand the concept of everything being temporary. No matter how big of a problem I’m facing, I can see that if I keep on track, the problem will pass. I have been to several funerals of very close friends, I’ve been homeless, and I’ve been through breakups, but I haven’t had to drink because of it thanks to some simple tips I learned in the rooms and through my sponsor.

  • I have a slew of sober supports whom I can call when I’m feeling anything from elation to depression, and they always provide good perspective.
  • I have a higher power of MY OWN understanding. I talk to her often, and it helps me to remember that I’m not the center of the universe.
  • I go to meetings and participate. This can be even just talking to people before and after meetings, but it really helps when you get involved with a commitment like coffee or greeting.
  • I have an amazing sponsor with whom I work the twelve steps. This provides me with insight as to why my mind is “broken” and what I can do to fix it.
  • I take nothing for granted. Today I woke up without having to find money to get drunk or high. I didn’t have to wait around for a dealer to make me feel better, and I don’t have to drive home with one eye squinted because I got too drunk at the bar. THAT life was insane, the one I live now is normal, and I’m grateful that I’m alive to experience it.
  • I found constructive hobbies. Going to the gym, reading, hanging out with friends, volunteering at an animal shelter, you name it, whatever I have to do to get me out of my own head.
  1. Just breathe

If you’re new, the word meditation might sound like something only Buddhists and monks that have prayed for years can achieve. I thought the same thing, and I was quite surprised to learn that I could practice meditation and I didn’t need hallucinogens to do it!! This was awesome news.

Meditation is the simplest thing in the world, which is why I think most people get frustrated because we think we are doing it wrong. But to be honest, there is no wrong way to do it. Simply find yourself a quiet place where you can be alone, and follow some of these easy tips.

  • Put away your phone, cigarettes, energy drink, etc, anything that your mind can tell you to distract yourself with.
  • Just breathe. Inhale deeply, exhale slowly. As you breathe, try to picture the words “inhale” and “exhale” in your mind.
  • If thoughts pop up, don’t try to shove them away, don’t get mad at them, just gently and lovingly remind yourself, I’m meditating, let’s focus on my breath again.

If you are like me, you might have a hard time sitting still for an extended period of time, so at first, try this for 30 seconds. Then go to 45, then 60. I promise you that the more you practice, the easier and more enjoyable it will become.

Manage Your Stress in Sobriety

Some other quick tips to help manage your stress in sobriety are simple tools of living.

  • Get enough sleep! Keep your mind and body sharp and the rest will follow.
  • Practice time management. If it helps to make a list of things to do, do it! It feels awesome crossing things off and it helps you to feel accomplished at the end of the day.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We aren’t loners anymore, and people actually WANT to help us, so let them! It takes a strong person to admit they can’t always do it alone.
  • Try not to always control everything. When we focus all our energy on making everything perfect, we block off our ability to see the beauty in the imperfections of life. Sometimes just letting go of control makes everything just fall into place.

Stress happens to everyone, and everyone copes differently. I see “normal people” live lives of anxiety and frustration and it makes me grateful that I am an alcoholic. Through the 12 steps, I have the gift of learning a new way to live and becoming a stronger and forgiving person to myself and everyone around me.

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Freedom From Addiction

If you have found yourself suffering in addiction, you are not alone! If you are ready to change your life and live free of addiction, then can help. We offer inpatient and outpatient treatment services for men and women. Our program is unique in that it doesn’t just treat the addiction, it treats the whole person. For more information on our program, call 1-877-959-7271 today.

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