Three Lifestyle Changes That Can Lower Your Stress Levels
While stress is part of everyone’s life, too much stress is never a good thing. This is particularly true for people who are in recovery from a substance use disorder. High levels of stress can increase the likelihood of a relapse, so it is important to do what you can to manage stress in your life.
That, of course, is not always easy to do because plenty of things—especially unexpected things—can amp up your levels of stress. Still and all, there are things you can do to better manage stressors you can control to one degree or another.
We have three examples to share:
Lower Your Stress by Building a Budget
Most of us worry about money at one time or another. But having a working budget can help reduce the time you spend fretting about whether you have enough money to make ends meet. Creating a budget is fairly straightforward, and the results can help you make good financial decisions that will keep stress at bay.
Here’s what you do:
- Write down all of the money you take in each month.
- Add up all of your recurring bills (be sure to factor in things like gas and groceries).
- Do the math.
- If your expenses exceed your income, you will need to make some changes.
- If your income exceeds your expenses, you should be sure to save some each month.
- Remember to give yourself grace as you work toward a sustainable budget—and to treat yourself from time to time when circumstances allow.
Lower Your Stress by Tidying Up
Clutter can be an ongoing source of stress for a couple of reasons. First, the chaotic look of a cluttered space can be enough to make you feel more stressed out than you otherwise might. Also, a messy space adds stress by making it, for example, harder to find your keys when you are rushing out the door or harder to find that bill that your new budget has made it possible to pay.
Here are a few strategies:
- If the clutter around you seems overwhelming, start small. Clearing a single pile or cleaning out one closet can get you going in the right direction.
- Put decluttering tasks on your to-do list. Straightening your desk at work, for example, can lower your stress levels while also giving you an easy win as you mark the task off of your list.
- Focus first on the spaces you occupy most often—and that should include your bedroom because a tidy sleeping space supports healthy slumber, which in turn supports sobriety.
Lower Your Stress by Enjoying a Hobby
With all the demands on your time, it can seem extremely hard to slow down and do something for yourself. But having an engaging hobby is a great way to lower your stress level because it gives you a chance to focus fully on something you enjoy. And the wonderful thing about a hobby is that it is uniquely yours. Just find something you enjoy and pursue it.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Think about whether you would like a hobby that has a social aspect or is something you can do on your own—or a combination of the two.
- Remember that a hobby does not have to be about mastery. So, for example, if you decide you would like to learn to play a musical instrument, remind yourself that you are doing this for yourself—not to impress others.
- As counter-intuitive as it may seem, building time into your schedule for your hobby can be an essential step—especially if having the time scheduled helps you feel less like you are “wasting” time.
Getting Sober is a Great Way to Lower Your Stress Levels
Let’s face it: struggling with drugs or alcohol is a stressful experience. Your health starts to deteriorate, your relationships are upended, your ability to meet your responsibilities fades, and financial difficulties loom. In some cases, you might do lasting harm to yourself—or to someone else. And any effort to stop using drugs or alcohol on your own comes with the stress of withdrawal.
At French Creek Recovery Center in Meadville, Pennsylvania, we have the expertise and experience necessary to help you get and stay sober. We offer personalized treatment plans that will see you through detox and rehab, providing strategies, resources, and support for maintaining your sobriety. That support continues via our commitment to a continuum of care. Along the way, we can address any co-occurring mental health disorders (like depression or anxiety) that might be tangled up with your substance use disorder.
Getting sober won’t magically remove all the stress from your life. But it will go a long way toward giving you the tools you need to manage stress in positive, productive ways—without drugs or alcohol.