April is National Stress Awareness month! Woohoo! We’re figuring out how to tell if we are stressed, and we’re talking about what to do for stress relief. For some of us, it helps to have tools for when the heat is on, and we may not have the time, or ability to make it to a meeting, call someone who may not be available, or get professional help.
Easy stress relief practices are great for people in recovery.
So, these are my top stress relievers for when I’m freaking out and have to figure out what to do on my own. Usually, one of them is effective.
Now, I was one of those people who said they meditated as a part of my recovery, and I did. Here and there—now and then. But, last winter I got involved in a group that required me to meditate ten minutes a day, every day. I struggled for the first 30 days. 30 days doesn’t do it for me in terms of making something a regular thing. I’m a 90-day type of gal. After three months, I now look forward to it and see a remarkable difference in my emotional sobriety from turning this hobby into a practice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ps. that’s my dog at the top of Runyon canyon :)
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