Stress management skills

Stress management skills

Stress management skills are important for good mental health in general, but are particularly necessary if someone is in the midst of an addiction problem, is in recovery, or is relapsing.

Stress and its common causes

Stress can be defined as an intense feeling of unrest, where a person experiences substantial emotional (and sometimes physical) strain as a result of challenging or demanding circumstances.

Different things can be deemed stressful by different people, of course, but there are some situations and stimuli that have statistically been found to be highly stressful. These include: sudden life changes, such as a change in your job or relationship status, moving house, or changes in your health; or more chronic situations, such as having to go to a particular place, use a particular form of transport, or perform a particular task.

People suffering from other emotional difficulties, such as depression, anxiety, grief, or low self-esteem, may very often experience stress in conjunction with their other symptoms.

The fact that not everyone shares the same stressors makes it even more pertinent for each person to develop their own way of relieving and managing their individual stress. Below are a variety of different techniques that can be used to manage stress better – and as mentioned above, there is no ‘one size fits all’, so it is okay if not all of them chime with you.

Some tips on how to handle stress

Clarify what the stressor is so that the specific issue can be addressed.

  • The first thing to identify is what is a stressor and what is not. We can sometimes confuse two separate stimuli when they are closely linked. For example, a person may find going to the gym stressful and may begin to actively avoid going there because of this assumption. However, it is important to look at the component parts of the stressful experience, to see which element/s of, in this case, gym-going are the true stressors. In this example, then, it could be the journey to the gym that triggers stress in the individual, or it could be the car park there, with limited spaces, or the staff in the gym itself, or the experience of exercising surrounded by other people — to name just a few options.

Identify whether, in an ideal world, you would want the stressor, or whether you want to work on managing the stress it causes.

  • One of the ways to decide whether a stressor needs to be eliminated, or simply managed better, is to consider the effects it has on the person; both good and bad effects can be incorporated. Let’s continue with the example of the person who finds it stressful going to the gym. If there are positives as well as negatives to gym-going — better physical fitness, management of a healthy weight, improvement in mood through exercising — the person may not want to eliminate going to the gym altogether, but rather, work on managing the stress it causes them. The work at hand becomes about how to modify the effect it has on them.

Reflect on previous experiences of stressful situations and their resolutions in order to pick out how these were managed in the past, and thus how they could be managed again in the future.

  • If the individual feels they do want to work on their stress, something that can be effective is looking back on past experiences that either were or had the potential to be stressful, but which they nonetheless managed to get through. What was it that stopped that situation from tipping over into overwhelming stress? What did they find themselves doing to rectify the situation? How did they contain their emotions and actions in order to manage the situation effectively? At this point, a list can be made of these previous ‘success stories’ that the person has experienced. This is a way of reminding ourselves that we have actually handled stress before, we just maybe didn’t actively know it at the time.

Learn your limits. If something is simply stressful, learn to say no.

  • There may well be things that do inherently feel stressful and that we have tried to combat and tried to work through, but have not managed to do so. If that is the case, it is about learning our limits and putting in place boundaries to protect those limits. To return to the example of the stressed gym-goer: having evaluated the situation, the person may still decide that the benefits of exercising are outweighed by the negatives of going to the gym. They may ultimately choose to carry on with physical exercise, but in another environment, such as exercising privately at home, going to an open, outdoor space rather than a confined indoor one, or choosing exercise classes rather than working out publicly in the main gym. The important thing is that they will have made the right decision for them, and will say no to putting themselves in a situation that caused too much stress.

Find a personal sanctuary outside of stress, whether that is a person, an activity, or a place.

  • Finding balance in life is key. Some people find that having something to look forward to, like a hobby or an arrangement to spend some quality time with loved ones, can see them through demanding situations because they know there is some respite at the end of it. It is so important to incorporate relaxation into our daily lives, otherwise life can indeed feel very heavy and tiring. Relaxing experiences also work as a visualisation technique on a difficult day: the person can picture a fond memory or someone they feel comfortable and calm around, and this can help in lifting their mood, but also in reminding them that there is a bigger picture outside of the specific stress they are experiencing in that moment.

Ask for help. We are all human beings and we cannot manage alone, nor should we have to.

  • The final (and possibly most important) tip in handling stress effectively is reaching out to others when it all does feel too much. It is easier said than done, but the truth is that as individuals, we cannot do it all. Sometimes things are just too much to handle alone, and we need a co-worker to help finish a project, a friend to listen to us on the phone, a loved one to give us a hug and let us know that we have their support. We need that reminder that we do not, in fact, have the whole world resting solely on our shoulders. It can be difficult to delegate, to relinquish control and to trust that others will be there for us if we need support, but it is important to take the risk.

Even if someone can’t actively change your circumstance, they might empathise or have had a similar issue in the past; they may have a solution to offer or just a shared experience that alleviates the intensity of what you’re feeling in the moment. It is certainly worth reaching out.


Natasha Klimt

Nick Conn / 28th July 2018/ Posted in: Latest News

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    Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

    The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

    Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

    • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
    • Lorazepam (Ativan)
    • Diazapam (vailium)

    Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

    There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

    • Naltrexone
    • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
    • Nalmefene
    • Acamprosate (campral)

    Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

    There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

    Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

    A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

    Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

    The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

    Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

    Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

    Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

    *based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

    There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

    If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

    If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

    Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

    How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

    There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

    Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

    There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

    Local treatment

    Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

    Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

    Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

    Treatment Away

    Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

    As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

    When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

    There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

    Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

    There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

    Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

    Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

    Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

    Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

    Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

    Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

    How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

    The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

    Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

    Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

    Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

    You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

    The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0203 955 7700.

    There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.