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Eight Ways to Reduce Stress and Stay Sober

Unfortunately, recovery does not mean that life magically becomes perfect. Life will still throw challenges at you, but recovery gives you the chance to learn how to walk through these in a healthy way. Stress is a part of life. It can come from work, family, or even recovery itself. You have to learn new ways of being and new strategies for dealing with life’s ups and downs. Getting sober is just the start of the journey; you also have to find ways to develop the resilience you need to stay sober in challenging situations. Luckily, there are many ways to cope with stress and stay sober. 

  • Focus on Your Breathing

Taking deep breaths in stressful situations can help you calm yourself down and step out of the stress of the moment. Deep breathing reduces the “flight or fight” response and brings the nervous system to a place of calm. A few deep breaths before responding to a stressful situation can transform your response. A daily practice of sitting with a breath for a few minutes can help you create new ways to manage stress.

There are a few easy breathing techniques you can practice to get you started:

Counting Your Breaths:

  • Find a quiet place. Sit up straight with your head slightly inclined forward.
  • Set a timer for a manageable amount of time (a few minutes). 
  • Close your eyes, listen to your exhalations, and count them. 
  • After five exhalations, restart the cycle of counting. 

Lengthening Exhales:

  • Find a quiet place. Sit up straight with your head slightly inclined forward.
  • Close your eyes and begin breathing through your nose.
  • Inhale through your nose for two counts.
  • Hold for the inhale for a count of one and then exhale for four counts.
  • The goal here is a pattern of smooth, steady breathing. Exhales should be longer than inhales, but you can adjust the pattern of breath.


  • Practice Gratitude

Expressing what you are grateful for daily can help reduce stress and increase wellbeing. It is nearly impossible to feel stressed and upset while simultaneously feeling grateful. You can make a list of ten things you are grateful for and keep it with you at all times to reference back to it. You can even combine breathing techniques with an attitude of gratitude and see how your response to stress changes!

  • Connect to Nature

Spending time in or near nature is a powerful way to bring the mind and body to balance. Walking in a park, tending to a garden, being close to water, or hiking in the hills all have a grounding and healing impact on wellbeing and will leave you feeling at ease.

  • Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is vital for mental and physical wellbeing. If you don’t get enough sleep, life feels much harder to deal with, creating a vicious stress cycle, especially in early recovery. Try to make a relaxing evening routine, reduce your caffeine intake later in the day, and step away from the screen at least 30 minutes before bed to give yourself the best chance of a good night’s sleep.

  • Reach Out to Your Support Group

Problems kept to yourself can grow into insurmountable disasters. Talking to someone about your worries can help beyond measure, allowing you to put things into perspective, figure out solutions, and know that you are not alone. Whether at a support meeting, with your close friends, in therapy, or with family, the benefits of sharing your worries with a caring individual are immeasurable.

  • Prioritize Your Goals

Are you trying to do everything all at once? It can be tempting to think that now that you are sober, you want to make up for a lost time and try to do all the things you feel you missed out on while in active addiction. Be careful not to overburden yourself with projects and remember that your recovery and wellbeing are the most critical projects. Be realistic about what you can achieve while also prioritizing recovery.

  • Reflect on and Celebrate Your Progress

It can be easy but demoralizing to look at the path ahead and see how far you need to go in life. We don’t even know what is on that path towards the future, but you can always look back and see how far you have come. If you feel anxious and stressed in recovery, look at how much progress you have made and how much you have grown. Looking at these things always helps to put life’s difficulties into perspective and shows you just how much you can win at life!

  • Prioritize Self-Care

There are a multitude of ways to practice self-care. It might mean taking the medications you need, getting in the shower every day, resting when you need to, ensuring you eat well, saying “no” when you need to, taking time for yourself to have a long soak in the bath, making time for meditation, prayer, reading, time with pets–the list can be endless. Whatever you need to do to make sure that you feel well, grounded, and safe, do it–that is self-care. If you are taking care of yourself, then the stresses life throws at you will be easier to manage.


Recovery will be stressful at times. However, your new way of living includes finding new ways to cope with the challenges of life without using drugs or alcohol. Luckily, there are so many ways to manage stress in recovery and stay sober. You can practice breathwork, express gratitude, connect to nature, get enough sleep, reach out to your support group, prioritize your goals, and reflect on your progress. Most importantly, take the time to practice self-care; when you take care of yourself, life’s stresses become easier to manage. If you are still struggling with stress in recovery, reach out to RECO Intensive. At RECO, we believe that recovery is a lifelong journey. We have developed an incredible community of support through our alumni program, aiming to introduce clients to the limitless possibilities that life in recovery can create. We want to ensure your success in sobriety. Call us today at (561) 464-6533 to learn more about how we can help.

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