Apr 22, 2024

Managing Stress in Addiction Recovery

There’s a strong connection between stress and addiction, and this connection doesn’t magically disappear when going through addiction treatment. Learning how to manage stress in recovery and after can help prevent relapse and improve your quality of life. There are a number of effective ways to reduce and manage stress in recovery and minimize its impact on your life.

It’s important to explore several stress management options. Not every technique will work for you, but finding the ones that do and building them into your daily routine is one of the best things you can do for your mental, physical, and long-term recovery.

Why Is Managing Stress During Addiction Recovery Important?

Drugs and alcohol are often used as an unhealthy mechanism for coping with stress, and stressful moments and situations remain a consistent trigger for many people who have successfully completed alcohol and drug rehab. Learning how to manage stress so that it has less of an impact on your life is an important strategy for long-term recovery.

Stress doesn’t always act alone as a trigger for relapse. Stress can lead to difficulty sleeping, mood changes, anxiety, depression, and irrational behavior – all of which can become triggers on their own.

Managing stress is also important for overall health. It’s normal to experience stress from time to time, but we live in a world where chronic stress is common and can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system.

Supportive group of friends embracing one another outside to show support for their recovery.

How to Manage Stress in Recovery 

Finding an approach that works for you is the key to successfully managing stress in recovery. Here are ten strategies for reducing stress before it affects your life. 

Find Support

Addiction recovery is more stressful when you’re trying to do it alone. Finding a support network to share your feelings and frustrations with is an important outlet. If you’re trying to work through recovery on your own, it’s important to connect with a qualified addiction treatment center that can help you with proven therapies and tools to manage stress. 

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

It’s always easier to manage stress when you’re well-rested. Sleep disruption is common during stressful times and the uncertainty that can accompany addiction treatment. The most effective way of combating this is to practice good sleep hygiene by having a healthy bedtime routine that you can stick to. 

Put down screens at least an hour before bed, and make your sleeping environment as relaxing and distraction-free as possible. Indulge in self-care as part of your nightly routine, and try setting your alarm to wake up at the same time every day, even the days when you don’t have anything to do. 

Nourish Your Body 

Sources of stress can be external or internal, but they can both affect mental health and addiction recovery. Nourishing your body with healthy foods can help improve your mood and energy levels so that you can better manage stress when it comes your way. 

Limit Stimulating Substances  

When going through addiction recovery, you might find that avoiding stimulating substances, such as caffeine, sugar, and nicotine, can help you better manage stress. These substances are ones people often turn to when stressed, but the effect they have on the body can actually make stress worse. 

Exercise Regularly

Physical activity is a great stress-relief outlet. Regular exercise improves both physical and mental health. Any type of physical activity – walking, bicycling, swimming, resistance training, tennis, etc.- can help you better manage stress. Aim for thirty minutes a day on a consistent basis. 

Set a Schedule and Practice Time Management 

Not having structure to your day and constantly feeling crunched for time are guaranteed ways to invite stress into your life. Structure is incredibly important during addiction recovery, as is breaking down tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces. 

If you haven’t already done so, begin by waking up and going to bed at the same time every day. Then, prioritize your tasks for the day. Some people find it helpful to designate a certain amount of time for each task, such as fifteen or twenty minutes, and then move on to the next task when the time is up. It’s amazing what can be accomplished in a short amount of time, and limiting time on each task can help make your to-do list not feel so overwhelming. 

Remove Yourself From Stressful Situations 

When recovering from addiction, you need to become your own advocate for avoiding stressful situations. There’s nothing wrong with walking away from a situation that creates stress and increases the risk of relapse. 

Meditation, Mindfulness, and Yoga 

Meditation, mindfulness, and yoga have proven track records for stress relief. They’re so effective that many addiction treatment centers, including the Massachusetts Center for Addiction, have begun offering them as complementary treatments for addiction. 

Find a Creative Outlet 

Expressing yourself creatively can be a wonderfully effective tool for managing stress during addiction recovery. Find a creative outlet that you enjoy and go with it – you don’t need to be great at it. Massachusetts Center for Addiction offers Art Therapy as a complementary therapy in addiction recovery. 

Set Boundaries and Learn to Say No 

Overcommitment and doing things you don’t want to do lead to stress. Individuals going through addiction treatment sometimes feel that they need to say yes to every request due to guilt or feelings of being a burden. What’s most important is your recovery, and establishing firm boundaries for your mental health and self-care is an important part of that. 

Getting Help for Managing Stress in Recovery

Stress affects everyone, but there are strategies that can be used to minimize its impact on your life. If you’re working through addiction recovery and finding stress a challenge, we can help. Contact the Massachusetts Center for Addiction at 844-486-0671 and make an appointment with one of our experienced mental health specialists, who can help you learn the tools you need to manage stress better in recovery. 

MCA Staff
Written By

MCA Staff

The Massachusetts Center for Addiction expert staff is dedicated to helping individuals overcome... Read More

Contact Us



1515 Hancock Street, Suite 300
Quincy, MA 02169

Phone Number

24/7 Support

Start your recovery with
Massachusetts Center for Addiction

Our team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you may have. Give us a call today and begin your journey toward long-term recovery.

MCA Contact Form