Tag Archive: coping strategies

  1. Using the Arts to Relieve Pandemic-Related Stress

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    Society is coming up on a solid year of various levels of quarantining and social distancing due to the coronavirus. What initially everyone hoped would be a short-term effort that would flatten the curve, allowing things to begin to return to normalcy, proved to be a long-haul effort that is still going on into the new year. As a result, millions of people are experiencing pandemic-related stress that impacts their work lives, home lives, and mental health.

    Approaches to relieving stress brought on by living long-term in a world riddled with COVID-19 can include engaging in regular exercise, talking to a mental health professional, or the use of prescription medications. An often overlooked option is taking part in one (or more) of the creative arts. They not only can provide an outlet for built-up stress and anxiety but provide a welcome change of pace from a person’s day-to-day activities. Engaging in an artistic activity may also create a welcome new hobby that you will enjoy for years.

    The Art of the Written Word

    Creative writing can take many forms, including fictional stories, essays, and poetry. If you are new to trying your hand at writing, find a quiet place in your home and carve out some time for yourself. You can write about anything you want and don’t worry about if it’s necessarily good or not. If you aren’t sure what subject to tackle, consider writing about a memory from your past, like a favorite childhood birthday or a great love of your life who you still think about. 

    Short stories and poetry also prove to be great outlets for exercising your creative muscles. Remember you do not have to show your work to anyone unless you want to, which helps reduce the fear about whether or not your work is good. Another excellent writing outlet is journaling. Often the act of purging your pent-up emotions helps counter the ill effects they have on a person. You can either write on a computer in a word document or use an actual pen and paper in a journal or notebook. 

    Channel Your Inner Artist

    Since ancient man (and woman) first drew rudimentary pictures on cave walls, art has proven to be a wonderful way to express yourself. Whether you want to try your hand at using acrylic paint, watercolor, or sketching with ink, local craft stores and the internet offer many options for procuring supplies. Many artists find the act of turning on some favorite music and sitting down with a sketchbook or setting up their easel provides them with a good chunk of time to let the worries of the day fade away while they escape into the beauty of color and form. 

    Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

    If you used to make a habit of going out to clubs and bars and dancing, you probably miss being able to do that. Even if you have the proverbial two left feet and want to dance but are intimidated by it, taking advantage of private time at home can give you the outlet you need. Put on a playlist of music that makes you want to move your feet and create a dance floor in a room in your house. You might play a dance instruction video or a scene from a favorite musical (think the high school dance in “Grease”) for inspiration and get your groove on. 

    Dancing doesn’t have to be a solo act. Couples can let go of stress via dance and entire families can get in on it. Little kids love to express themselves through movement and music, making it a perfect opportunity to have a family dance party for all ages. Dancing can also provide needed exercise, which can also contribute to stress relief.

    Create Wearable Art for Yourself and Others

    Many people relax by sitting in a favorite chair and putting their talents to work with knitting, crocheting, or sewing. This type of artistic endeavor can help focus the mind on the task at hand, relieving you from the daily stress that builds up. Hobbies like these build up hand-eye coordination and can be done solo or with others who share your hobby via social distancing or on a meetup app. The bonus is you can create wearable art for yourself or that makes a great gift for friends and family.

    Free Advice From the Pros

    If insecurity about your skill level for any of these artistic options has a grip on you, remember that the internet provides innumerable options for free instructional videos and classes that help guide people through their first steps. Videos about how to construct a short story, tips for choosing paints, how-to instructions on dancing, and so much more give people the ability to embrace a new artistic endeavor with expert advice they can return to whenever they need it. 

    Everyone is experiencing some level of stress due to the coronavirus and the restrictions it imposes on pastimes and hobbies. Turning to artistic activities, such as dance, art, writing, and sewing-related pastimes can help relieve stress, pass the time, and potentially become a new hobby. When a young person is struggling with mental health issues and addiction, it’s important for them to find a way to deal with their issues, including pandemic-related stress. Sustain Recovery understands how to address an adolescent’s underlying issues and point them in the right direction. We offer multiple treatment modalities, including residential, intensive outpatient programs, and partial hospitalization programs. If your client needs a long-term treatment program that includes treatment for mental health and addiction and has experience providing the solution for clients who did not respond to other programs, we can help. Call us today at (949) 407-9052 to discuss how to get through not only the pandemic but all of life with a healthy new attitude and focus on recovery.


  2. When Valentine’s Day Isn’t a Hallmark Movie For You

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    Every year when Valentine’s Day lurks around the corner, we are pummelled with advertisements and sappy movies about the importance of the day. No other holiday pushes the idea that everyone should have a date or be in the midst of a wildly romantic relationship on one specific day of the year more than St. Valentine’s Day. Mass marketing spends millions on the message that not only should everyone be in love but they must demonstrate their love by emptying their wallets or going into debt. We are told that purchasing flowers, chocolates, jewelry, and a host of other items in all price ranges will prove our emotions are true. This sentiment can be exhausting financially and in other ways. 

    The Negative Messaging About Being Single

    Valentine’s Day can present difficult situations for those who are in recovery. If the person does not have a spouse or significant other, being single around a holiday so focused on being part of a couple can cause feelings of loneliness or inadequacy. In turn, these emotions can cause a temptation to engage in negative self-talk and increase the potential for relapse. It’s important to be aware of the danger of getting trapped in the web of unfair marketing and predictable televised entertainment that comes with Valentine’s Day. 

    Millions of people are single on any given day, and even those who are dating or purportedly happily married one year may find themselves single the next year. Remember that your self-worth has nothing to do with having a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse. February 14 is just one day of the year, and you are entitled to spend it with friends or family or ignore it completely and enjoy a night in with pizza delivery and a streaming movie. 

    Even Couples Feel Valentine’s Day Pressure

    Even those who have a partner or spouse can find the annual onslaught of Valentine’s Day messaging to be tiresome. The expectations to provide the perfect evening out or the most romantic present pile up. They often leave a person feeling like if they don’t whisk their sweetie away for a romantic night on the town or slip them an expensive gift like jewelry, they have somehow failed at love. If you feel prone to caving to this pressure, discuss what expectations the two of you have for the holiday before it arrives. During a time of continued lockdowns and social distancing, dining out and shopping are often limited. You may find that just sharing a pleasant dinner at home and exchanging inexpensive, silly gifts from the heart is all you need. It’s also just fine to refuse to participate in the holiday at all, choosing instead to let daily expressions of love suffice.

    Staying Single When You Are New to Recovery

    If you are new to recovery, being in a romantic relationship may prove difficult at first. Many treatment centers and 12-Step programs recommend individuals new in recovery should avoid dating for the first year. This can be difficult advice to heed, particularly for teenagers and young adults who might be used to dating a lot or feel pressure to find a girlfriend or boyfriend. Keep in mind that your mental health and sobriety are your top goals and that a good relationship will come along and flourish when you are better prepared to deal with it. 

    Despite the pressure from advertisements, rom-com movies, and well-meaning family and friends saying that everyone must couple up, you can learn to give yourself a break. Love doesn’t have to be limited to an exchange of feelings with another person. Self-love is vital too. Look for realistic ways to express love for yourself and you will be better prepared to be in a romantic relationship down the line. Take note of your own internal dialogue and challenge negative misperceptions such as how you should be dating someone or that having a significant other validates your worth or attractiveness. 

    Expand Your Definition of How to Express Love

    Do not let corporate America limit how you express love, particularly on one specific day every February. Buying expensive items for romantic partners is just one option, and not even necessarily the best one. Look around you and think about who holds a place in your heart, like a parent, a sibling, a friend, or a mentor. Be creative about gift ideas for them that are inexpensive or even free, such as one of the following:

    • Write a note expressing your feelings for someone important to you and give it to them 
    • Pick some wildflowers for someone who appreciates the beauty of nature
    • Create a playlist you know a person would enjoy and share it with them
    • Go to a discount store and pick out a whimsical desk toy 
    • Visit a used bookstore to find inexpensive books, DVDs, and music
    • Offer to do a chore your loved one doesn’t enjoy doing as a gesture of your love

    Every year we are subjected to an onslaught of ads telling us that we have to celebrate Valentine’s Day and prove our love with expensive trinkets and dinners out. For people who are single, this can be a difficult message to navigate. Even people who have a significant other can tire from the pressure. Rebel against the idea that Valentine’s Day is a one-size-fits-all concept and learn to express your feelings in different ways. Sustain Recovery has a staff of skilled professionals who teach our clients that learning to love yourself is the first step. We offer long-term, proven methods of treatment that allow an adolescent or young adult to flourish under our care. We treat mental health issues and addiction, teaching our clients how to deal with their day-to-day struggles, rewire their thinking, and return home prepared for a life of improved mental health and sobriety. Call our Southern California location today at (949) 407-9052 to get started on loving yourself, others, and life!

  3. Alternative Coping Strategies for Recovering Teens

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    Alternative Coping Strategies for Recovering TeensThere are many different ways that people deal with the challenges of life. When life is going well, we feel on top of the world. When life throws us a curve ball, that’s when we find out our true coping skills. Some people have strong, solid coping mechanisms and can deal with problems in a healthy way, while others of us find that we do not have a solid coping foundation and turn to substances or other vice to deal with our problems.  If you’re out of rehab and looking for ways to cope with life’s turmoils and difficulties without turning to substance use, consider these options;


    Exercising To Feel Good

    The vast improvement that exercise can have on the mind and body are hard to grasp until you actually start doing it. It doesn’t take long, though. Endorphins released during physical activity cause a natural, healthy euphoria which encourages you to repeat the productive and beneficial act. Exercise also helps remove byproducts of the stress response. If you’re feeling agitated, anxious, or angry—some of the biggest cornerstones of addiction recovery—a quick run or bike ride can do wonders for peace-of-mind and clear thinking.


    Journaling To Express Yourself

    By putting your thoughts on paper, you’re not just expressing your feelings—you’re gaining insight on them. You have to talk to someone, even if it’s just yourself. The major advantage of journaling in recovery from addiction is that it provides a clear and motivating record showcasing your treatment progress and which actions, attitudes, or choices worked for you along the way. Not only does the act of writing often reduce the symptoms of stress, anxiety, and cravings, it can serve as a useful tool to look back on when you need insight or inspiration in the future.


    Talking It Out With Someone

    In addition to self-regulation and analysis, it’s important to have another listening ear. When stress and devastation make life seem unbearable, the act of communicating with another human being serves to help ground you in relationships and human interaction, which helps you to not feel so alone. Talking to a trusted friend takes some of the burden off yourself. It also makes way for multiple perspectives, both yours and theirs. If you’re attending AA or a similar program, you can even obtain a sponsor–a fellow addict with whom you can interweave your motivations and skill-building.


    There’s no better place to learn and utilize coping skills for recovery and sober living than right here, with us. Sustain Recovery offers a multitude of counseling and guidance services for building effective coping skills in and after treatment. For a consultation, call 949-637-5499.

I first met Sayeh in November of 2013 just after my 15 year old daughter had been admitted to a residential treatment program. As part of the program I was required to attend 2-3 AlAnon meetings a week. Sayeh attended the same AlAnon meetings as well as Alumni events as I. It soon became apparent to me that Sayeh had a heart for recovery, program, and God. When I was encouraged to get a sponsor I didn’t hesitate. Dependable, respectful, kind and generous of spirit, she exudes an inner peace that I hope to achieve with her loving guidance, as I work my own program. She is patient, & full of wisdom that she is always happy to share with her sponsees and fellow parents. I am so grateful our journeys brought us together.

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