Stress Relief is Not Synonymous with Substance Abuse

My son Henry

Stress – We all feel it! Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

We all can feel the effects of stress and I am no exception. When I’m stressed, it presents itself as pain in my shoulders and back. It’s a nagging, persistent and, at times, debilitating. I want it to go away but how do I fix it?

When drinking was a daily part of my life, a nice glass of wine or a cold drink was the perfect remedy for my aches and pains. But after a while, I came to the realization that that remedy did more damage than good. Alcohol and my body make up do not mix well. The drink may have eliminated my stress but unfortunately, my DNA made me feel a lack of control. One drink was never enough and that one drink would turn into multiple drinks or bottles of wine. The drinking only exacerbated my stress and created larger problems! The stress now was self-afflicted.

My shoulders and neck pain became depression and self-doubt; a physical ailment became an emotional one. Now, I was not only in physical pain but my emotions were running on overload. Most of those emotions were negative, which in turn made me unhappy and unproductive. All I could do was wallow in self-pity.

How did I get out of it?

For one I realized that the answer to relive my stress was NOT to pick up a drink.

Here are some tools that have worked for me:

·      Listen to some music and get lost in the lyrics or rhythm

·      Go for a walk outside

·      Call a friend and talk about what I am feeling and let it go

·      Write in my journal

·      Take time to meditate. There are many different online tools and apps that I like that help me meditate. Right now, I turn to the app “Insight timer” as a tool for my meditation. It is free and has many different guided meditations, as well as a timer if you just want to sit quietly.

Bottom line is that drinking is not the only solution to major stressors in life and most of the time, it leads to significant problems. So take some time to try the tools I suggested and remember that feelings are not facts!

 

 

Happy Memorial Day

The Beach.....ahhhhhh

Memorial Day was started in 1868 by General Logan to celebrate the sacrifices of the Civil War.  On that day, participants decorated the graves of more than 20,000 solders that fought for the Union and the Confederacy. After World War I, the day became even more inclusive and celebrated all of those who fought in America’s wars. In 1971, it was declared a national holiday to be acknowledged and celebrated by Americans the last Monday in May.

Today, Memorial Day is too often seen as a celebration of the start of summer and not recognized for what it should be: a celebration of American heroes.

When General Logan founded this holiday, he did not discriminate between sides. Instead, he decided that all soldiers deserved respect and acknowledgment for their sacrifices in the Civil War, regardless of whether they were from the North or the South! Citizens went and decorated men’s graves no matter where they were from or what their beliefs were. It was a bi-partisan day.

Now can you imagine this today? People supporting each other with no judgement or criticism, even if their beliefs are totally different. It seems idealistic and almost fairytale-like in today’s negative climate. I know I am not alone when I say that the current state of the word is negative and downright sad.

After hearing what happened in Manchester, England earlier this week, I am distraught by how we can’t even go to a concert to hear our favorite music without the fear that it could possibly be the last day of our life.

There is too much hate and disrespect today.

When I decided to get sober almost 11 years ago, I was judgmental and harsh towards others who didn’t share the same beliefs as me. But when I joined a 12-step group, those judgments and beliefs began to dissolve. Why you may ask? Because in my 12-step meetings, it doesn’t matter what religion you are, how much money you have, where you live, the color of your skin – none of that matters. People come together to help and love one another.

In 12- step meetings, I have learned that love is all that really matters. Making sure that others are there for one another to help each other get through another day without having to medicate themselves. People lend a hand and their hearts to help regardless of their beliefs. It fosters an environment of non-judgmental people that will love you and support you until you learn to love yourself.

With Memorial Day right around the corner, maybe we need to learn a lesson from General Logan and celebrate everyone – be open and loving even if we aren’t in agreement with someone’s political or religious beliefs. It is time to love and respect our neighbor and be kind no matter what! I can tell you that after watching a young girl’s parents in England being interviewed on CNN yesterday, it did not matter what or who they were or what they believed. They were in deep pain because they couldn’t find their daughter. We can all relate to the pain of losing someone and my heart cried for those parents because bottom line, I am a human being with a heart.

Maybe this weekend that celebrates our fallen heroes and marks the start of the summer can also be a time where we love one another and let everyone be who they want to be. At the end of the day does it really feel good to judge another?

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!