Feb 02: Handling Stress in Sobriety

Handling Stress in Sobriety

Whatever traditional topic I might have picked just days ago, life has completely overwhelmed it.

A few weeks ago, my elderly mother’s room flooded and she had to be moved. Very upsetting for a woman with dementia. A few days later, she came down with bronchritis and has not recovered yet. Then I got sick and had a difficult week. Living alone while ill is not fun. Then just about the time I started feeling better, my little cat got sick again. Emergency trips to the vet and the heartache of fearing euthanasia.

This is just life, but it has been very stressful. A few years ago, my remedy would have been simple – a few beers. Then a few more. And more. I’d have forgotten all about the stress. I’d probably have forgotten to check up on mother, too. Then I’d have postponed the trips to the vet. Everyone would have suffered, but my stress levels would be down – well, until the hangover at least.

So, how is it different today when there’s no six-pack to resort to? I’m still stressed, and the relief is neither simple nor quick. I talk about it with other recovering alcoholics. I go to more meetings. I pray a lot. I take one step at a time one day at a time. I do the right thing first and forget about the results of my actions. I leave the results to my Higher Power, and I go on with my day. I don’t get all wrapped up in what might happen tomorrow or what I could have done better yesterday.

These actions do not make the stress go away, but they make it much easier to deal with. I keep living day-to-day without the drama and extreme emotion of the old days. I don’t have to handle hangovers or regrets. I can keep doing what I need to do one day at a time.

In stressful times like these, applying the 12 steps becomes critical to my serenity and my ability to cope with life on life’s terms. Having practiced for a long time now at practicing these principles in all my affairs gives me a strength and resilience that did not exist when I was drinking. Having the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous gives me a source of strength to deal with the stresses of the day and much more healthy than a few six-packs.

How do you deal with stress in sobriety? What are your remedies? How do you deal with stress in your life today?