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Abstinence and Stress

  • Asks ...

    I have heard that yoga and meditation can be helpful for people in recovery. I am not really a yoga kind of guy but I know my last relapse was caused by my inability to handle stress very well. I would like to know if practicing martial arts like karate offers the same benefits as activities like yoga and meditation. They seem sort of similar to me, but I am not sure…

  • Dr. James Strawbridge Says ...
    Dr. James Strawbridge

    Stress is not all bad. It all depends on how much you have, how long it lasts, and how you handle it. If you have no stress at all, you don't grow and learn---there's no incentive. If you have too much, you fold under it, and suffer a wide range of physical and psychological ills. A moderate amount of stress in your life seems just right (this will vary from person to person). But even mild stress-- -if you don't know what to do with it or if it goes on and on without relief---can triggered a return to substance abuse. 

    A moderate amount of stress is already into recovery: the stress of staying abstinent and learning how to live without chemical support. So it's important not to add more stress on top of this by thinking too much about the past or trying to undo too much in the present. 

    You mentioned practicing martial arts. This means exercise and this is the perfect replacement of the couple drinks that helped you unwind. It will improve your self-image, chase away sleep problems, and often alleviate symptoms of mild to moderate depression and anxiety.  A health-oriented life that builds in regular exercise usually has no room in it for the use of drugs or the abuse of alcohol. 

    You referred to meditation. This too is a good idea. I would suggest that you get on the internet and click on relaxation meditation, contemplation meditation, or life-in-order meditation.  This will give an assortment of ideas regarding meditation. 

    Your most useful distressor right now is your support group. Increase your meeting attendance whenever stress increases

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