Recovery can be taxing on the body and mind as clients heal from years of repeated substance misuse. As clients prepare for leaving treatment, the physical healing process should be well underway. They often report drastic improvements in overall mood and physical well-being within the first three months of sobriety. The cells in the brain may take more time to heal as they reach homeostasis without drugs and alcohol. During this time, brain fog and erratic mood changes may persist in early recovery, and clients should be mindful that they have only just begun the physical and psychological healing process.
Many of the difficulties people experience after leaving rehab to take place due to the actual transitioning process. This transitory process entails re-entering society as a sober individual and maintaining newly learned skills, behavioral patterns, abstinence from illicit substances, and managing the priorities of work and relationships in life. The increased potential for stress and frustration is abundant in early recovery as clients have both their old life’s responsibilities and their new sober foundations to instill as everyday habits. The mind has only just begun to heal, which means much of this transition will be undertaken when patients are not at full strength nor will they be entirely comfortable in their newfound sobriety. Below we have listed some of the top stress-reducing activities to help patients better transition into their independent, sober lifestyles.
Top 5 Stress-Reducing Activities
- Exercise: The physical exertion of energy is especially helpful in reducing pent-up anxiety and stress. Endorphins released during physical exercise will help alleviate stress, improve mood, and decrease the risk of depression. When targeting stress reduction, the most critical aspect will be picking an enjoyable form of physical exercise. If the type of exercise feels like a chore, then chances are clients will not continue, and exercise may become a stressful activity in its own right. Exercise can be as little as a walk around the block or an hour at the gym.
We recommend picking physical activities that could center around smaller or larger group meetups, such as hiking, biking, or even kayaking. Having fun with friends and family while exercising can make the practice more enjoyable.
- Mindfulness Meditation: The practice of meditation should always be a time of relaxing self-reflection which inherently makes it a natural stress reducer. Mindfulness meditation in particular has the same relaxing potential with more of an emphasis on being in the present. Much of anxiety and resultant stress is caused by anticipation of future events. For example, we are worried about responsibilities coming up in the week and finishing them on time. The anticipation of not completing assignments in the future might cause unnecessary stress.
Mindfulness meditation allows clients to focus on the inner self through each moment and attempts to absolve them of constantly recognizing the stressors of future states. The practice involves reflecting on the inner self with a focus on the physical in and out of breath. Guided practices can easily be found online and for free on YouTube.
- Practice Daily Gratitude: Daily gratitude is simply taking account of the good aspects of an individual’s life and actively recognizing them. The practice is easy enough, and we would even recommend speaking aloud each day’s gratitude. Daily gratitude is about shifting perspectives and avoid negative thinking patterns that come too easy to those in recovery. Making a habit of practicing daily gratitude takes little time, and the benefits can include stress reduction, improved mood, decreased chance of depression, and increased rates for maintaining sobriety.
- HALT: HALT is an acronym for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. Each of these elements should be met, especially in early recovery, to avoid potential relapse and decrease daily stressors. If clients feel stressed at any particular time, they should take a second to reflect and repeat the HALT acronym to assess if their stress results from any of the big four. This easy assessment can eliminate many minor stressors that may have gone unnoticed from any of the key areas reflected by each letter in the HALT acronym as well as avoid exacerbating other stress-inducing incidents in daily life.
- Make Time for Self-Care: Self-care mainly consists of taking time out of one’s day to check-in and give the body-mind what it needs. This can amount to alone time reading a book, meditating, cleaning the house, or exercise. The most important aspect of self-care is making the time and not getting caught up in distractions during life in early recovery.
Addiction can increase both stress and anxiety for patients and the members of their support network. The physical and psychological repercussions of an addictive disorder can erode a person to a hopeless, rock-bottom point in life. Fortunately, the body and mind are resilient and have a great capacity for healing when treatment is sought. If you or someone you love struggles with addiction and co-occurring mental health issues, then Choice House has dual-diagnosis treatment services to help men begin the process of healing. We utilize many therapeutic modalities to offer men the chance to achieve initial sobriety and teach them the stress-reducing behavioral habits that will increase their chances of maintaining that sobriety when re-entering their independent lives. Located in the Boulder County area of Colorado, our treatment program includes a 90-day inpatient service, an intensive outpatient program, as well as the opportunity to take up residency at our sober living campus. For more information regarding Choice House’s facilities or addiction recovery treatment programs, please give us a call at (303) 578-4977.