When You Have a Minute to Spare: Practicing Brief Stress Relief in Addiction Treatment
We’ve talked before about the dangers of stress to someone in addiction treatment. Too much stress can trigger a relapse, and cause recovering addicts to retreat to abusing the substance of his or her choice.
It is true that we often cannot control the various stressors in life, be they a missed bill payment or a sick friend. We can, however, control to what extent life’s stress-inducing events affect us by making stress relief an essential part of addiction rehab.
Stress relief doesn’t have to come in the form of a one-hour massage though. It is possible to practice stress relief even when you can only catch a moment of time. One minute, two minutes and five minutes are all enough time to move through some stress relief exercises. Read below for some ideas for stress relief during addiction rehab based on the amount of time available to you:
When you have one minute
Focus on breathing. In a seated position, place your hand below your navel and pay attention to the rise and fall of your stomach as you inhale and exhale. If you’d like, choose a mantra or a self-affirming phrase to chant audibly or in your head. Examples of mantras are the phrases “I am” or “I can.”
When you have two minutes
Again, focus on breathing, but at a slower pace this time. Count down from ten to zero, or if you have a short poem memorised, recite that as you breathe. Say one number or line with each breath.
When you have three minutes
While remaining mindful to your breath, focus your attention on each set of muscles in your body, especially those that tend to hold the most tension. Focus first on the muscles in the face: relax your jaw, and touch lightly your cheeks and the skin around your eyes.
Then focus on the muscles in your arms and back. Drop your shoulders. Let your arms fall limp, especially if you spend most of your day at a computer. Then shift your focus to your legs: let the weight of your thighs sink down, roll your ankles and move your hips from left to right.
When you have five minutes
Try a self-massage. Begin at your neck and shoulders, kneading your way up towards the scalp. Lightly massage the top of your head before moving towards the muscles in your face. Focus on the jaw muscles. You might be surprised at how sore they are; because of a combination of talking and nervous habits, we tend to clench our jaw muscles, overstraining them throughout the day.
End the self-massage by closing your eyes, and refocusing on your breathing.