Stop Stressors, Triggers in Their Tracks With Healthy Habits
Written by: Derek Goodman of Inbizability
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The past year has been challenging for everyone, and tough times can really take a toll. In fact, Forbes notes overdoses have increased alarmingly since the pandemic erupted, and those who struggle with addiction are especially stressed.
Getting back on track might start with a stay in an inpatient rehabilitation program or a stint visiting an outpatient facility with a bevy of health care providers to help you through the first days, weeks, and months of successful sobriety. But, while medically assisted detoxification and other treatments facilitated by health care professionals are an important part of addiction recovery programs, there are many steps recovering addicts can and should take on their own to strengthen their chances of staying sober long-term, especially when the initial, intensive phases of treatment are behind them.
Regardless of where you are in life, if you’re feeling stressed from all that has happened in the last several months, you’re not alone. And there are ways through it. Here’s how healthy habits can be a cornerstone in your personal recovery program.
The most effective way to deal with stressors -- a blanket term for many things that cause anxiety or tension -- and triggers -- any mental or environmental factor that encourages a return to past behavior -- is avoidance. But it’s not always practical or possible to dodge every potential pitfall. That’s why an effective arsenal of coping skills keeps stressors and triggers from blossoming into cravings and downfalls.
The Mayo Clinic notes common stressors include things like a seemingly unending workload, unpredicted events, and major life changes. Even your environment can trigger unhealthy stress levels. Work on identifying the stressors in your life, minimize them, and look for some healthy coping habits like these:
Physical activity can be an effective way to cope with stressors and triggers because it releases natural neurochemicals, including endorphins and serotonin, per CNN. These substances can help generate feelings of euphoria and general well-being to boost your mood. In fact, regular physical activity has been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety, which are frequent relapse triggers.
And better brain chemistry is only part of the reason exercise is good for both physical and mental health. Exercise can be an effective way to take your mind off your worries and interrupt the cycle of negative thinking that nourishes depression and anxiety. Exercise can also help you gain confidence as you set and meet goals and begin to look and feel better.
Physical activity also increases opportunities for social interaction, whether it’s simply exchanging a friendly greeting with a fellow nature lover during a leisurely hike or joining a gym where you can discover different disciplines and form connections with a group of people focused on fitness and other healthy habits.
If you decide to workout at home, you can stream popular exercise channels like obé fitness. Look for workouts you enjoy and that promote positivity. You might try yoga, dance, karate, or tai chi. Stay on top of your progress with an app or fitness tracker. You can even make it a fashion statement by adding a new watch band to your workout gear. Stay comfortable and upbeat while you’re getting some sweat on, and you’ll be more inclined to stick with a regimen.
Developing healthy habits takes time. Practices including yoga and mindfulness meditation can also be useful in retraining your brain. Becoming more aware of your thoughts may also help you discover some factors behind specific stressors and triggers. Experts have found regular meditation can help practitioners change thought patterns, reduce the body’s levels of stress-inducing hormones and provide a boost for parts of the brain responsible for feelings of optimism and people’s sense of possibility and overall well-being.
Yoga is a good way to ease into both mindfulness and movement because it can put people back in touch with their bodies. That effect comes, in part, because yoga helps balance the body’s levels of stress-related hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Some experts also see yoga and other mindfulness practices as an effective way to help acknowledge cravings without acting on them. But, no matter what motivates you to seek more mindfulness, it can be a healthy way to deal with unavoidable stressors and help you stay sober for the long haul.
So, while it isn’t necessary to embark on a month-long meditation retreat or start training for a marathon, incorporating mindfulness practices and physical activity into your daily routine can help you be happier and healthier for life.
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Edgewood Health Network has over 50 years of combined experience in mental health treatment, we understand the complex issues behind addiction and eating disorders better than anyone