Stress and tension can be real obstacles to change and recovery. Without the proper tools, stressful events can (and often do) lead to relapse. Not only does sensitivity to stress make people more likely to use, but excessive drug and alcohol use alter stress systems in the brain, creating a cycle of hypersensitivity. Our stress management counseling offers real alternatives and tools for approaching stressful situations. Clients are given these tools to manage stress in a healthier way, and shift to a more positive way of thinking.
Cognitive Restructuring is one of the core methods used in our Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and involves recognizing harmful thought patterns that arise when stressful situations come up, changing these “old thoughts”, and developing new and healthier ways of thinking.
The ABC Technique is one way we teach our clients how to approach stressful situations from a different angle. In this technique, clients are taught to identify:
- A – the Activating event, or what the stressful situation is,
- B – Beliefs, or how they perceive the situation, and
- C – the Consequence, or the end result from their beliefs. People suffering from substance abuse often have distorted perceptions and ideas of reality, and this method helps clients to see how their thinking can make stressful situations worse.
Thought awareness is a mindfulness technique whereby we train clients to quietly observe their own thoughts, and rather than suppressing or fighting them, simply note where and what negative thoughts arise. Counselors then can help the clients to identify patterns of negative thinking that lead to or exacerbate stress, and take steps to counteract them.
Rational thinking is the process whereby the negative thinking taught by Thought Awareness is further examined. Clients are taught to consider whether their negative thoughts are rational, or if there is any substance to them. Oftentimes these thoughts have little basis in reality, but if realistic concerns arise, they can be further addressed with the client’s counselor(s).
The way we breathe can affect everything from blood pressure to stress hormone levels to immune system functioning. When stressful situations arise, the body instinctively enters a “fight or flight” state of heightened re-activity, during which the person takes small, shallow breaths. This altered breathing pattern can make stressful situations worse, both mentally and physiologically. At Serenity Acres, we teach clients various methods of controlled breathing, which can help them progress to a state of calm when stressful situations arise.
Meditation typically involves focusing the attention to a mantra or phrase which quiets the mind and allows the person to become calm and centered in times of stress. It can provide the practicer with relief from anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other emotional difficulties which can arise when working towards sobriety. At Serenity Acres, we teach our clients various methods of meditation, and encourage them to find a process that works for them. Through group guided meditation sessions, as well as individual direction, clients are given the tools to quiet their minds and handle stressful situations without the use of drugs or alcohol.
Conflict is a normal part of all human relationships. However, when not handled properly, it can lead to unhealthy emotions and can foster resentment, which is particularly dangerous for someone in recovery. At Serenity Acres, we teach our clients a variety of conflict management and conflict resolution skills, designed to help them both handle and internalize conflict situations in a healthy way that is conducive to maintaining their sobriety.