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How to Apply the Viral Stress Buster List to Your Recovery

For over a decade, a high school psychology teacher has been handing out a list of 101 things to do decrease stress to his senior students. When one of those students posted the list to Twitter, it went viral in days, with more than 25,000 retweets and 31,000 likes. With tons of simple ideas for life management, the list resonated with readers of all ages.

Some of the highlights of the list focus on helping students to make their lives easier in order to decrease their stress levels. Other items on the list remind them to notice the beauty around them and appreciate it, and still others encourage making a positive connection with others. All of these ideas are beneficial to people in recovery and great ways to get the most out of every day. For those who are “students of life” after addiction, applying some of the suggestions on the list can not only lower stress levels but also increase quality of life and improve the ability to stay sober.

In fact, if you are in recovery, you are already practicing one of the items on the list: “Avoid relying on chemical aids.” Here are some ways to apply some of the other suggestions and further increase your ability to remain sober for the long-term.

Help Yourself

  • Give yourself time. Getting up earlier so you have more time to get ready or navigate a commute, starting big projects long before they are due, and otherwise working to avoid overscheduling yourself by giving yourself lots of time between appointments can help you to avoid the stress of being late or forgetting something you need.
  • View problems as challenges. No one escapes challenges in life, but in recovery, it can be tempting to view these challenges as horribly insurmountable problems. Choosing to look at everything as a chance to come up with a creative solution is more hopeful than defining things as gloomy or hostile.
  • Make copies. Whether keys, important documents, or a project you are working on, having backup copies will make sure you are covered if the original gets lost.
  • Make lists. Writing down important information can help to make sure you remember your appointments, important people’s birthdays, when to take medication, and what to get at the store. Lists can essentially help you to limit wasted effort and regret.

Practice Mindfulness

  • Take a walk. Getting regular exercise, focusing on your breathing, and enjoying the outdoors provide a number of incredible benefits for the mind, body, and spirit.
  • Look at the stars. There is great beauty in the details of life that are often overlooked. Taking time to notice the stars, smell the flowers, and enjoy the world around you will provide a reminder of all there is to enjoy in life.
  • Sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep cannot be overstated when it comes to maintaining balance and optimum mental and physical health.
  • Journal. Picking up a pen daily and writing out all the things you have to be grateful for each day can be hugely helpful.

Connect with Others

  • Avoid negative people. The attitudes you have and your perspectives in life can be deeply impacted by the people who surround you. Be proactive and choose people who are positive about recovery, supportive of you, and seeking to live a healthy and balanced life.
  • Find support from others. It is a good idea in recovery to have people you can count on to talk to about the issues that often arise as you strive to establish yourself in sobriety. Often, finding people who understand where you are coming from begins in treatment and continues with regular attendance at support group meetings, including 12-Step meetings. Remember to be supportive of others in return.
  • Ask for a hug from a friend. Sometimes, you just need a hug.
  • Find a “vent partner.” And sometimes, you just need to complain. Irritations can pile up or a bad mood can seem to strike out of nowhere. It can be a relief to vent to someone who understands you and can give you the positive support you need.

Have Fun

  • Take a bubble bath. Or blow bubbles. Or go for a swim. Or avoid bubbles and water entirely, and do something that makes you happy. Happiness and enjoyment are the ultimate purposes of recovery.
  • Have a sense of humor. Recovery does take work and effort, and it can be hard at times, but it is important to enjoy a bit of levity in life. Relax and seek out the things that make you laugh.
  • Connect with animals. Whether you take time out to pet a passing dog, feed the birds, or have a pet of your own, animals can be fun and a great way to relieve stress.
  • Enjoy music, books, and movies. Reading a good book, heading to the movies with friends, or listening to your favorite music can help you to relax, escape in a way that is positive, and enjoy yourself.

What are your favorite ways to de-stress and make your life easier in recovery? How do you connect with other people, remain actively engaged with your treatment for addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders, or otherwise increase your ability to avoid relapse in recovery?

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