Stress Management - from the Health and Healing Series at SupportNet.ca - Resources for Your Recovery.

Recovery is learning to enjoy life - without the use of alcohol or drugs that alter mind or mood.

It is treatment for the condition of addiction - an approach to the challenges of life - and a path to personal growth.

Recovery requires us to learn - about the true nature of addiction.

It may be personalized - but it has its necessary Principles and its Ways.

The Principles of Recovery provide direction - to the choices that we face each day.

The Ways of Recovery provide us with tools - that help us to heal - and to enjoy life on life’s terms.

This Learning Seminar introduces the topic of Stress Management -

What you need to know about stress - how to recognize the forms that it takes - and how to respond to it in healthy ways.

Understanding Stress

Stress occurs when we challenged by conflict, change, insecurity or commotion.

Our first reaction to stress is a change in the chemistry of our body - and in the activity of our nervous system.

We are placed on high alert - and ready to meet the challenge.

The simplest of stressful events is one that is short lived and easily resolved.

We are out for a walk and find ourselves lost. We look for a familiar place - and feel a little stressed.

Eventually, we stop at a store and ask for directions. Walking then in the correct direction - we are relieved of stress - and again enjoying our walk.

A simple problem easily resolved - and with very little stress encountered.

But what if I don't like to ask for help - or there is no one close by to ask?

Or I've left myself too short on time - and now I’ll be late for an appointment?

What if I'm tired and irritable to begin with - and not prepared to deal with another problem?

There are many ways that a small stress can grow to a large one.

What if we’re just thinking about a walk - and worrying that we might get lost?

We imagine worrisome situations and traumatic events - and stir the same stress in our body as if these things were real right now.

We make assumptions about the way things are supposed to be - and then pressure ourselves to make them so.

We believe that others should do things our way - creating conflict and stress in our relations with others.

We expect to accomplish too much in one day - and strain ourselves to get it all done.

We create situations of stress for our selves in these and many other ways.

Regardless of cause - stress can affect other conditions of our health.

The physical changes that occur with stress are generalized. But they will affect us most where our body and mind are most vulnerable.

Those with a tendency to headache - may experience one during times of stress - or afterwards. Those with irritable bowel may find that stress will upset their stomach.

Many conditions of the mind are triggered by stress. These include mood, anxiety, compulsive or attentional disorder.

And those in recovery from addiction may find their recovery challenged by urges to use.

Our first reactions to stress are chemical and nervous changes within our body and brain.

But these changes will affect us differently - having their greatest impact on the most vulnerable areas of our health.

Stress Management

Poor habits of our mind and body lead to much of the stress likely to occur in our day today.

And the sick habits of addiction do nothing but set us up for future crises.

A first principle of stress management - is to avoid creating it for ourselves.

Recovery offers direction to healthier choices less likely to result in stressful complications.

Many of its activities help us to identify and to let go of our troublesome habits.

The result in time will be a less pressured life and more settled mind.

A second principle of stress management - is to consider the nature of a stressful event.

Some things are more stressful than others. Moving, a new relationship or the loss of a job - are often described as highly stressful.

Some situations are easily resolved - by rethinking our position, by talking with others or by asking for help.

Other challenges persist over time - or may never be fully resolved.

The Serenity Prayer will always offer insight.

Grant me Serenity to accept the things I cannot change - Courage to change the things I can - and Wisdom to know the difference.

Our response to stress will best involve each of three directions. We first look for our own contribution to the situation at hand. Am I seeing this situation is it truly is?  Am I making assumptions that are not warranted?  Am I trying to control something or someone that is not mine control?

We next consider ways to resolve the stress. This may require us to look at the situation in a new way - to accept our new circumstances - to take steps to resolve the problem - to enlist the help of others - or to take a different path.

Finally, we apply our tools to care for, calm and to express ourselves.

It is easy to neglect ourselves during times of stress. But this is exactly a time when we need to attend to our body, mind and health.

The Ways of Recovery provide strategies for coping with the impact of stress - in learning how to calm our self and to let go of emotional pain.

A third principle of stress management - is to learn our personal habits in reacting to stress.

What situations are most likely to cause you to feel stressed?  Are you most distressed during times of conflict - or later - after the problem is resolved? Do you react to stress with loss of sleep or by overeating - with muscle tension, headaches or nervous restlessness?  Does stress lead to thoughts of medicating yourself with alcohol or drugs? Do you hold your body in a stressful stance all of the time out of habit?

The better we learn to recognize our personal stress habits - the earlier and the better we will be able to respond.

Do you relive stressful situations in your mind - playing them over and again and worsening the impact of stress on your health?

Meditation, prayer, talking with others and journal writing all help us to let go of the worrisome thoughts that play on our mind.

Do you hold stress in muscles tightened around your neck or shoulders?

Progressive muscle relaxation, stretching exercises, yoga and other physical activities all help us to let go of muscular tension.

Stress held in our bodies may complicate all manner of health conditions - including obesity, hypertension, substance abuse, chronic pain, mental health, headache and bowel problems.

The Principles and Ways of Recovery offer powerful means to lessen the likelihood of stress and its impact on our health.

For this reason, addiction recovery also helps us to heal from nervous habits and many conditions of poor health.

And finally, a traditional fourth principle says to - Practice for the difficult while it is easy.

Make time in your day - to learn the ways of healthy mind and body. Practice abdominal breathing, muscular stretching, meditation or other healing ways as part of your day to day Personal Program of Recovery.

Daily attention to the Principles and Ways of Recovery is the best way to protect ourselves from unnecessary stress - and to be better prepared to deal with those times when life does become stressful.

In Summary

Stress occurs when we challenged by conflict, change or commotion.

Our first reaction to stress involves a change in the chemistry of our body - and in the activity of our nervous system.

These changes occur everywhere within us - but affect us most in vulnerable regions of our body or mind.

Many other conditions of health may be triggered or worsened by our experience of stress.

Stress management helps us to recognize our personal habits of stress - and to minimize its impact on our health.

You have now reached the end of Stress Management.

Look for this and other Learning Seminars at www.SupportNet.ca - Resources for Your Recovery.