How Do I Handle A Stressful Situation Without Using Substances?

If You Can, Face Stress Directly

It may take time for you to develop the skills, courage, and stability to grab the ubiquitous bull by the horns and deal with a stressful situation immediately. The truth is, your stress will be greatly reduced by dealing with a situation as swiftly and effectively as possible. When you let stress simmer, it grows, as does your fears and resentments regarding the situation. Stress can be emotional, situational, or even spiritual. As you’ve learned in recovery, the longer you go without verbalizing or addressing a situation, the worse it becomes. Until you finally admitted you were experiencing a problem controlling your use of substances like drugs and alcohol, your using was just worsening. Often it is said that the fear of fear itself is more stressful than what it is you are actually afraid of. Learning about your fears and how they effect you is a big part of the recovery process. By facing stress directly, you’ll be processing through the fears more quickly. The more quickly you process fear, the more quickly you can return to serenity.

If You Can’t Face Stress Directly, Take a Breather

The truth is, you are going to have to face what is stressing you out eventually. Recovery has given us the courage and strength to get through anything that comes our way. However, until we fully come to age in our recovery, stress can be scary, intimidating, and overwhelming. For years, we met stress with substance abuse, training our brains to seek pleasure in the face of painful stress. When we first encounter stressful situations in early recovery, our brain goes into a sort of chaos- there are no substances to get through the situation, yet there also isn’t anything else, like coping skills, to get through either. It is perfectly acceptable to just step back, find somewhere quiet, and take a break to find your center. Though you will have to face your stress, you don’t have to do it in this exact moment. Recovery sayings like “first things first” and “one day at a time” apply here. Finding your spiritual grounding and taking stress one minute at a time is the very best thing you can do.

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