6 Helpful Tips For Coping With Stress In Sobriety

When I entered into recovery, I had no healthy coping skills. I had been routinely smoking, drinking, and drugging at my problems. All my emotions were smothered with a substance. When I committed to a new way of life, I lost my most effective coping skills; I entered the unknown. In my first year of sobriety, I suffered panic attacks, anxiety attacks, migraines, and often broke out into hives.

My body rebelled against the stress of life.

Over the last (almost) eleven years, I’ve had to find new, healthy coping skills to deal with these stresses. Here are six things I do when I’m feeling anxious, angry, etc.

Coloring

I bought a bunch of coloring books and crayons. For years I kept them in my desk at work to break out whenever I was feeling angry. Coloring immediately soothes me and I feel better before I’m even done with a picture.

Quilting

I learned how to quilt about two years ago from a book used to teach children. As my sewing skills were equal to that of a 4th grader, it was perfect. I learned so much from that book. I bought a sewing machine on Craigslist for $45.

Making Jewelry

I pick someone I know and love and make jewelry for them. This both helps me think of others AND allows me to use the creative side of my brain. I am no great jewelry artisan, but with some beads and a pair of needle-nose pliers, you’d be surprised what can be accomplished.

Reading

When I was a little girl, I loved to read. Sometime in that hazy youth (I call them the “fuzzy” years), I lost sight of that. I don’t read highbrow, intellectual books or anything. I read vampire smut and anything with dragons, faeries, or swords. Maybe these books aren’t for you, but there is a genre of literature out there that I’m sure you will love.

Meditation

I don’t mean I sit with my legs crossed saying, “OOOOOMMMMMMM”. I just sit. STILL. And let the thoughts go by. In the early years of recovery, my thoughts would race so much that I couldn’t quiet my mind for more than a few seconds at a time. Today, I am having a particularly difficult time with some PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) symptoms, and I’ve been coping by meditating for five minutes every hour. Now it’s only been two hours since I started doing this, but the results are AMAZING. The first hour my mantra was “I am worthy,” the second hour it was “I am good,” and the next is, “I am lovable”. Those are the 3 things I need to tell myself A LOT to retrain my brain into saying nice things about me.

Giving

Whether it’s phone call, a gift, a text message, or helping someone move, I give love. Now, there are very, very few people on this planet that I love. However, everyone on that list knows it because they hear it and see it in my actions consistently. So when I am hurt, or sad, or angry, I let one of these amazing people know how happy I am to have them in my life.

So, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or angry and you find that your toolkit is empty, grab one of my tools! Some take more practice than others, so keep it simple. Just start with the crayons and coloring book.

Right now I’m coloring a dinosaur…until it’s time for my next meditation.

What are some coping skills that have worked for you?

This post was submitted by Jessica.

Original photo credit: keirstenmarie via photopin cc

A Sober Mommies Contributor is most often a non-professional – in and out of recovery – with reality-based experience to share about motherhood & active addiction, the multiple pathways to recovery, or a family member’s perspective.

6 Comments on “6 Helpful Tips For Coping With Stress In Sobriety

  1. Your dinosaur was be-a-i-ti-ful!! I don’t even think I have a tool box to use for stress but after reading this I think I’m going to start one! Today!! Right now! Thanks beautiful

  2. I have been following your blog lately and find you describe my path. I am sober 2 years and 3 months. I often feel I struggle with loneliness, impatience and bordem. 3 evils that can pull someone backward. I love these tips. Colourings was one of my favourite things to do as a child. Like many I guess. I also like to paint. I found I was too shakey and impatient when I tried it again. ..but that was last year. Please keep writing. I am an avid reader.

    • Boredom kills me; that’s why so many of my go-to-coping skills require both hands, because it keeps my body engaged in the moment. That way its a whole body experience. I was super impatient with myself when I started quilting, but like I said, my sewing skills were that of a 4th grader’s, so I lightened up on myself and sewing forced me to slow down when I really feel like running in circles.

    • Nicole,

      Thank you for reading our blog. I’m so glad you’re finding a connection between your journey and the posts!

      That makes my heart really happy. XOXO

  3. We can’t really avoid stress. That was life is. It gives us tons of problems we solve them and give another batch of problems. Stress it’s normal, we all experience this but dealing with stress is another story. Do not let that stress eat you, I mean do not let the stress rule your mind and heart. It will just worsen the situation. Take a deep breath and make a plan to solve your problem.

  4. heyy!!

    indeed a very nice share and wonderful ideas..
    Isn’t it ridiculously amazing that we forget to breath deeply when we are all knotted up with stress.
    Such a simple thing.

    Trust me, I just love your ideas and your brief explanation

    thank you so much for this share ..
    keep up doing good work
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