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!