Uh oh. The holidays are upon us, and if you’re like me stress relievers are a top priority,. I just returned from a business trip and found more work to do, construction on my building, dogs that need all kinds of care, and oh yeah, bills to pay. Not to mention, the holidays bring a whole new set of stressors which need new traditions and solutions. So, what do I do when I’m feeling stressed and anxious?

Easy stress relievers are especially important for people in recovery

These are my top stress relievers for when I’m freaking out and have to figure out what to do on my own. I love having a recovery tool box always at hand.

Exercise

Endorphins are a cure-all for a lot. I knew this guy who suffered from terrible anxiety as part of his mental health issues, and he used to go for a long, hard run every single morning. The way he explained it to me was that the running forced his head to get straight in two ways – one, his endorphin level was raised. Two, his breathing became regulated from the run, which ultimately calmed his heart rate and put him on pace for the rest of the day.

Breathing activities

Like meditation, I believe this is something that works best when you’ve had some guided training and practice. You know how when people have an anxiety attack they often hyperventilate? Well, deep breathing, or healthy breathing, will help regulate your heart rate and calm you down.

Mini Mind Break in the Snow
Mini Mind Break in the Snow

Cooking

If you’re someone who feels comfortable in the kitchen, then cooking can be a fabulous stress-relieving activity. From giving yourself the assignment of finding a great recipe to buying the food, to food prep and cooking, to the finale of cleaning, the whole process can take up a lot of time and energy giving your mind a little relief from the mania.

Animals/Nature

I’m very lucky, and I live by an incredible hiking trail in California. Whenever something upsets me, I grab the dog, and we hike up that mountain. Nature gives me the perspective and the quiet I need to remove myself from the situation for a moment, and a long walk with the dog allows us to connect and have a spiritual moment. I know a dog trainer who told me there’s nothing a dog loves more than to take a nice, long walk with their human in nature. When I see my dog prance up the mountain and look back at me with a grin, I know I’m doing something good for both of us, and it gives me a lift in that way too.

Naps!

Do not underestimate the power of naps. They can help you get extra rest when you need it, they help clear your head and reset if you’re having a rough day, and they’re just good clean healthy fun. If you are able, I recommend taking a nap when you feel stressed, depressed or running out of steam.

Read

Sometimes a nice respite can simply be grabbing a book, or whatever E-reader you’re using, and finding a quiet space to read. Fantasy, mystery, romance, whatever lets your mind relax and take a vacation from itself in another fun world.

To be clear, I do not suggest that you don’t call your sponsor, or go to meetings. Those things are essential if you’re a person who needs recovery group support, but the goal here in recovery is to create a world we can live in comfortably. To me, living comfortably means having tools I can use at any moment, for any reason.

Download five tips from Lindsey’s new book 100 Tips For Growing Up, My 20 Years In Recovery.


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Lindsey Glass

Lindsey Glass is the co-founder of Reach Out Recovery. Her 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World Of Recovery, has helped to lift the stigma from addiction and recovery and is used in recovery programs nationwide to show what life is like on the other side of addiction. Lindsey's teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, was distributed to PBS stations nationwide by American Public Television in 2014-15. Lindsey has written dozens of popular articles on recovery. She is a recovery advocate and frequent keynote speaker. Lindsey is the author of 100 Tips for Growing Up, My 20 Years of Recovery, 2019. Before focusing on recovery, Lindsey was a TV and screenwriter. She has worked in publishing, web development, and marketing.

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