Stress can be a terrible task master, and if you don’t find ways to alleviate it, it can cause you to make decisions or take actions you wouldn’t otherwise be likely to take. Commonly, too much stress can lead people to snap at each other or say hurtful things in anger; it can also cause you to make poor health or eating decisions. In the case of someone recovering from addiction, an over abundance of unhealthy stress that isn’t otherwise handled can lead to relapse.
Working with aftercare providers and your support network is important to the continued management of stress if you want to stay free of drugs or alcohol, but you can also take small, daily steps to reduce stress in your life. One way to do that is by embracing a spirit of gratitude.
The dictionary definition of gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” Showing thanks and appreciation or being kind are activities that are proven to produce positive psychological results, often reducing your stress.
Here are five easy ways to stop stress by channeling it into more positive, thoughtful activity.
Tell someone how much you appreciate them
If you feel like life is getting the best of you or you’re dealing with overwhelming workloads or other stresses, force yourself to stop doing anything at all and think for a few minutes. Who in your life is doing something that is helpful to you or that you appreciate. It doesn’t have to be anything big; maybe someone always tells you hello as you pass them during walks, or perhaps a coworker regularly grabs a cup of coffee for you when they get theirs from the break room. When you think of this person, make it a point to go and tell them verbally how much you appreciate them.
The act of stopping your work and your worry puts a buffer up for you stress. By thinking about something you appreciate, you force your mind to acknowledge that not everything is horrible or a crisis. By taking the time to tell someone thank you, you fire off positive activity in your brain and ensure they know you appreciate them.
Write and send a thank you card
It’s not always a viable option to thank a person verbally. Perhaps they live or work far away, or you are dealing with social anxiety and seeking them out would only add to your stress. For whatever reason, if you can’t speak your appreciation, write it down. Putting pen to paper is a great way to relax your mind and focus your thoughts, so if possible, handwrite a note of gratitude for the person. If that’s not possible, consider sending them a text or email.
Count ten things to be thankful for
You don’t always have to express appreciation to someone else to be thankful. You can be thankful that you woke up feeling well or that it’s a sunny day out. You might appreciate that your coffee was served just how you like it that morning or that you didn’t encounter a ton of traffic on your way to an appointment.
Stress has a way of robbing you of these little moments of thanks. When you’re consumed with the things that are causing worry or stress, you don’t even notice these moments, much less appreciate them. When you feel stress starting to tighten around you, force yourself to count ten things you’re thankful for. They don’t have to be big things — they just need to be things you sincerely appreciate. For example, someone might be thankful the tires are holding out on the car, that the milk didn’t run out so everyone could have breakfast or that the mail brought a card from a friend. Get specific with your list in addition to naming broad things such as health, family, a job, a support system or a home.
Keep a gratitude journal
Many people keep a gratitude journal where they write down the things they are thankful for. Some people write three things in it daily, but it’s your journal, so there aren’t any rules. You might use it to record your ten items each time you count them; you might write in it several times a day or only once a week. The purpose of a gratitude journal is that you do record what you are thankful for. That way, you can return to the journal and read about what you appreciate during times when you’re so stressed that you have a hard time remembering.
Do something nice for someone else
One big weapon you can use against stress or a bad day is kindness. Doing something nice for someone else doesn’t just make a difference for them. Showing kindness is proven to lift your own spirits. At the very least, if you act on behalf of someone who is struggling or needs help, you see that you aren’t the only one dealing with stress or problems. While that fact doesn’t change your situation, it can put it in perspective or help you see that you aren’t alone.
Gratitude is powerful, and showing it can help manage stress during and after recovery. Being thankful doesn’t usually get you out of an addiction crisis, though. If you’ve relapsed in South Florida or you’re feeling trapped by the cycle of addiction, call us today at (844)211-7944 to speak to a caring admissions counselor about treatment options.