Everyone has stress in their lives, and everyone has some way of dealing with that stress. Some people choose positive activities like meditation, yoga or positive thinking while others choose to deal with it in a more negative way.

Sometimes those negative avenues can include activities like drinking alcohol or abusing drugs and when people go too far down those avenues, it can turn into a full-blown addiction. With a drug epidemic raging around the country, fueled in large part by opioid painkillers, it is important to have positive ways to deal with stress in your life.

Even highly successful people who never thought they’d have to deal with drug addiction can get caught in its web, particularly if they’ve suffered some kind of injury and have been prescribed opioid painkillers.

Follow these five guidelines for dealing with stress to help you avoid the scourge of drug addiction.

1.  Try to Find Alternate Means of Dealing with Pain

Physical pain naturally causes stress for a person. Whether it is temporary due to some kind of injury or surgery or it is chronic, physical pain can cause people to seek treatment with powerful opioid painkillers. The problem with that is opioid painkillers are highly addictive.

While severe pain might necessitate strong medication to deal with, you should try your best to find other ways of dealing with pain that don’t involve taking highly addictive drugs for long periods of time.

Some alternatives, recommended by Harvard Medical School, that you may want to consider are:

  • Cold and heat
  • Exercise
  • Physical therapy and occupational therapy
  • Mind-body techniques like meditation, mindfulness, and breathing exercises
  • Yoga and tai chi
  • Biofeedback
  • Music therapy
  • Therapeutic massage

2. Have a Vigorous Hobby

We hear a lot about things like meditation to deal with stress, but the thing about stress is that it causes tension in your body and that tension can become built up energy that sometimes needs an outlet. Taking part in a sport or hobby that allows you to spend some of that energy is a good idea. Not only will it keep you moving and healthy, it will allow you to physically deal with stress.

Exercise reduces the body’s stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol and increases the production of endorphins, which are your body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Virtually any type of exercise helps — even brisk walking — but the more vigorous the exercise, the more endorphins you release.

Who needs drugs when you can get a stress-relieving “high” from exercise? Hit the gym, join a sports league or do something else that gets your blood pumping and the sweat flowing.

3. Get Out

Although it may be difficult, try to get outside into a green space as much as you can. The more natural the environment, the better. If you can manage it on a regular basis, you should go on a hike or even just sit in a completely natural place. If you are more stuck in an urban area, at least try to find the closest park.

Being in nature is a natural destressor and is just good for your soul. When you can get out into nature and replace sirens and traffic with bird calls and breezes, there is an unmistakable calming effect for people. Communing with nature is an easy and affordable way to introduce stress management into your life.

4. Catch those ZZZs

Sleep is finally getting its due, as people are slowly turning away from so-called “hustle culture” where people actively try to get as little sleep as possible and embrace their pillows and blankets. Consistent and sufficient sleep helps to fight against mental fatigue and stress.

You’ll need to pair sleep with some other stress reducing activities because being stressed will affect your ability to sleep. So, if you are able to get some exercise in a natural environment, that should help you get a good night’s sleep, which will, in turn, help you reduce your stress levels.

5. Always be Creating

There is an old saying that idle hands are the devil’s playground and that can be extrapolated to the mind. Boredom may not seem like a dangerous thing, but when people feel they have nothing to do, that can lead to stress and they can sometimes turn to drugs to alleviate that feeling of helplessness and hopelessness.

That is where having a creative outlet can be helpful. If you have a way that you can be expressing your creativity, you won’t ever be without something to do. Whether you paint, make music, woodworking or love fixing up old cars, having a creative outlet helps to relieve boredom and keeps you engaged in a positive activity.

As we’ve seen with the opioid epidemic and its origins in prescription drugs, addiction can sneak up on even the most successful people. Dealing positively with the pain and stress in your life can ensure it never has a chance to sneak up on you.

What way do you deal with stress in your life? Share it with us in a comment below.

Serhat Pala
Author

Serhat Pala is co-founder of TestCountry, which manufactures and distributes instant drug and diagnostic health tests and helps businesses create and manage effective drug testing programs. Currently, he works as Chief Advisor to the company while he pursues other entrepreneurial and charitable interests. You can connect with Pala on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.