Your First 90 Days Back Home: Stress is the Enemy of Recovery

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Let me share with you a little bit about my recovery. I quit a six figure job. I went to rehab. Then I went back to school for the thing I love most in the world – public health. I had many advantages, but I was able to spend a year doing school full-time and minimizing stress.

We often use drugs or alcohol because we’re trying to handle a level of stress we can’t tolerate. If you’re going to make it through those first 90 days, you have to minimize stress.

One thing I found is that people in my life respected my need to minimize stress…once I talked about it. But I was terrified to talk about it!

Create Your Own Recovery Strategy

It’s your first 90 days home. In early recovery, it’s essential to reduce your stress. Try the following tips to maintain your cool:

  • Relax
    Come home at night and close your eyes. Can you take a bubble bath? Can you just sit and stare out the window? Don’t feel like you have to talk to a million people. You need to do the activities that strengthen your “alone” side. Don’t try to be like everyone else. In these first few months, my friend, you’re all that matters.
  • Develop New Patterns
    Find a routine that transitions from work to home. So many of us haunted bars during happy hour, so find your own sober happy hour. And you don’t have make it all that healthy. Go get an iced coffee and a muffin at Starbucks. Sit there, peel off the wrapping of the muffin, and enjoy every single bite.
  • Avoid Negativity
    Create a standard message for those who are causing you stress. “I’ve been handling some difficult issues in my life lately. I’d ask for your patience, as I need to back away from stressful relationships.”

Keep Calm and Carry On

One thing I learned to do is ask, “Is my personal safety in danger?” (Usually it’s not.) Then I’d ask myself “Is my economic security is in danger?” (Sometimes it is, but we will handle that best if we are calm.) In these first 90 days, only being calm matters. Breathe. If you care to pray then pray; if you don’t, don’t let the pressure to pray stress you out.

So much of traditional recovery stresses us out – maybe someday we’ll make a movement of our own to create a stress-free recovery program, but until then, we will have to just share our secrets here.

Take a walk. Listen to music. Light a candle. Close the door. Be alone – it’s your right to be alone. It’s going to get better after 90 days, but right now, you’ve got to put one foot in front of the other. You’ve got one job: to stay sane and sober.

A good friend of mine who is a recovery coach said, “The thing about recovery is you have to believe that everything will be okay.”

This 90 days is about you believing that everything will be okay. And trust me, if you work your program, it will.

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