Stress can drive us to do many things. It can cause us to damage relationships and even miss out on opportunities. Stress, if not managed properly, can also lead to substance use. Often, substances are sought out to help cope with stress. This is a temporary fix that leads to an even greater problem.
Do you find yourself drinking at the end of a long day to try to relax and take the edge off? Maybe you reach for benzos or other substances to try to ease your mind a bit and forget about what might be worrying you. But unfortunately, this is all too common in our society today.
The truth is that there are other ways of coping with stress that does not involve substances. The options are abundant. The key is finding what works well for you. Below are a few examples of ways you can better manage and cut down on stress without turning to drugs or alcohol.
1. Prioritize Self-Care
While this may be a little cliche and seem slightly overused lately, self-care can be a huge component of managing stress well. When was the last time you set aside time to do something for yourself? It doesn’t have to be anything big or time-consuming. Self-care can be anything that brings you joy and helps you relax.
While it might seem simple, the act of prioritizing yourself and scheduling some time to do something you enjoy can make a huge difference in your stress levels. So often, we become stressed due to feeling overworked or overwhelmed by things both within or outside our control.
It is important to slow down, take a step back, and spend a little time doing something for yourself. Maybe you don’t know where to start. If you have never really thought about self-care before, here are a few examples:
- Take a walk
- Visit your favorite coffee shop
- Treat yourself to a new shirt or shoes
- Go to the gym
- Get a haircut
Some of these may appeal to you, while others may not. The trick is to identify what serves as a source of relaxation and self-appreciation for you.
2. Stay Active
Engaging in a bit of exercise is an excellent way to not only care for your physical health but manage your stress levels at the same time. You have heard it before, I’m sure. It can be easier said than done when you feel bogged down by worry and stress. While it may take a little work to convince yourself to get active, give it a try. You will, without a doubt, feel better as a result.
There is some science behind this claim. Exercising releases dopamine and decreases cortisol. Dopamine leads to feeling more energized and happy. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone. Reduced levels of it, as you can imagine, reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
3. Talk to Someone
When you are feeling stressed, it can be easy to assume that no one would understand or relate to what you are going through. You are most likely incorrect in that assumption. Even if your circumstances are exceptionally unique, you might find that speaking with someone about what is causing your stress can make a difference.
You can try speaking to loved ones or people you trust about what is bothering you. Sometimes, it can help to speak to a professional. In the midst of extreme stress and anxiety, it can be difficult to pinpoint what is really causing the problem. A therapist can help you identify the source of your stress and provide strategies for coping.
4. Eat Well
Does your diet really affect your stress levels? Actually, yes! When you eat well, you feel better mentally and physically. Think about it: how do you feel when you overeat or eat poorly for a few days? You might notice your energy levels are low, you feel less motivated, and you may not be sleeping as well. All these things can increase stress levels and prevent you from engaging in activities that could help reduce stress.
5. Get Enough Rest
Sleeping well and stress often don’t align. Stress can often disrupt sleep and result in a cycle of feeling anxious and exhausted. It is important to prioritize sleep, even when your brain seems to be in overdrive. Try to establish a consistent bedtime routine. This will allow your mind and body to slow down and prepare for rest. A few options to include in your routine could consist of the following:
- Listening to calming music
- Taking a hot shower
- Dimming lights
- Avoiding screens
Stress management is possible without the use of substances. Establishing healthy habits that help to keep stress levels low can make all the difference.
Substances are not the answer when it comes to managing stress. Drugs and alcohol can increase stress and make your problems worse. In order to address and fix the issue, you must identify the source of stress and find healthy ways to cope. Renaissance Ranch helps clients identify strategies for managing stress and adversity that are beneficial and sustainable. We introduce clients to various forms of exercise, new hobbies, therapy, prayer, and more. If you or someone you care about is striving to overcome an addiction to drugs or alcohol, we would love to chat and tell you more about our programs. To begin your journey to recovery, call Renaissance Ranch today at (801) 308-8898.