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The negative consequences of an untreated addiction to drugs or alcohol affect almost every domain of life, finances included. The destructive drug or alcohol seeking behaviors that constitute addiction can:
- suck your bank account dry
- destroy your good credit
- max out your credit cards
- lead to eviction or foreclosure
- cost you a job and regular paycheck
- and/or rack up exorbitant legal fees and fines.
Needless to say, financial stress often comes with the territory in early recovery—and it can also be a trigger for relapse. For example, research has revealed a causal link between financial stress and substance abuse, meaning that poverty and other money issues correlate with a higher vulnerability to drug and alcohol abuse. This is especially true if you’re not exercising healthy coping skills for dealing with the emotional pressures that inevitably go along with financial stress.
On that note, here are 9 quick emotional coping tips for dealing with financial stress in early recovery:
- Go for a brisk run. The mental and physical health benefits of running are well-established, which is one reason that running is on my personal favorites list for effective ways to blow off steam when you’re feeling stressed-out.
- Go to the gym. If you’ve got an aversion to running, take your money problems to the gym and sweat them off. The rationale is similar to that of running: whether you’re lifting weights or tackling moving stairs, vigorous physical activity can channel emotional stress, by helping you burn off the added cortisol and adrenalin that accompany money-related worries and anxieties.
- Take a long walk outside. Getting moving and getting a breather—ideally in a quiet spot where you’re able to connect with nature and the outdoors—is often a source of rejuvenation and newfound perspective towards problems.
- Savor a view of the ocean or mountains. If you’re able to pull away for some time at the beach or in the mountains, mindfully take in the view. Be attentive to what you’re seeing. Take in the sounds and smells. Chances are that the experience will be one of awe and wonder, as you reconnect with the breadth and beauty of the natural world. Even the most stressful problem will seem smaller and more manageable as a result.
- Pray and/or meditate. If you have a Higher Power whom you regularly consult in prayer, now may also be the time to pray, inviting God to help you find a solution to the problems you’re facing and asking for peace and provision. Similarly, meditation, which for some people is a form of prayer and for others is a secular practice of mindfulness, can also be a therapeutic outlet for reconnecting with what’s most important (which ultimately isn’t money or material things).
- Cuddle with your pet—or get a fish tank and look at the fish, water and movement. In the spirit of the bumper sticker that reads, “My therapist has a wet nose,” cuddling with your furry loved one can often provide some immediate consolation. If you don’t have a pet, consider getting one, by adding some fish and a fish tank to your home decor. It can be very healing to immerse oneself in this peaceful subterranean world where money issues simply don’t exist.
- Listen to soothing music instead of watching T.V. Music can be very calming and therapeutic. (Discover how music therapy is being used in addiction treatment.) In contrast, sitting down to catch a favorite sitcom may be an easy default mechanism for unwinding, but studies suggest this activity is actually associated with higher levels of depression.
- Take a bath. While you’re at it, sprinkle in some lavender oil and Epsom salt for added relaxation. This is an easy, low-cost form of self-care when you’re under pressure—an effective way to unwind and cleanse both body and soul.
- Plan and be prepared. I like to say that “a failure to plan is a plan to fail.” Get a financial plan in place that will help you live within your means, rebuild your credit and pay back outstanding debts. Sometimes this task may require the help of a financial advisor you trust. Effective planning is itself greater peace of mind.
What has helped you cope with financial stress? Share your tips with the rest of us!