Recovery is very stressful—good stress and bad stress. You are learning to cope with self-centered thinking and realizing that being in recovery does not mean everything automatically becomes wonderful. And recovery is not easy, so that is stressful. Unreasonable expectations have to be dealt with, and reality is right there, staring you in the face. Not everything is going to be rosy. That’s life, and you have to learn to deal with it without the temporary relief that using gave you. It is good to remember that using was only a temporary relief while you were high and solved nothing, fixed nothing, changed nothing, and usually things were worse, not better.

One of the ways to handle the stress that comes to you is to ask yourself how much the stressor really matters in time, in money, in advancement, in your future happiness, and well-being. Most of what bothers you now is not even recalled next month, next year, maybe not even next week. Most of the things that stress you out are not the end of the world and are things that are handled by multitudes of people day in and day out. If they can do it, so can you.

Some stressors are more difficult than others and can have lingering effects. But always remember that you are not your circumstances.

Circumstances change, just like you are changing now.

Craving thoughts come and go and cannot make you do anything. A crave is a thought habit that is going to happen to you. Expect it and move on.

Maybe you are stressed because you cannot find a job. True, that is stressful, but you are far from being the only one who cannot find a job. Keep looking. Never quit. Focus on positive self-talk. One day at a time. None of us have a contract that tomorrow is promised to us, and the past is, well, over. Focus on now. Step by step.

Some things that stress you, maybe even lots of things that stress you, are not under your control. The only thing you have to “get” is just that you control you and only you. And if you have been practicing “I control me, I control me,” you are getting stronger in your mind, in your thoughts.

You might feel like you are under the glass and friends and family are looking at you to see if you really are clean. Don’t allow that to stress you. Try to start to look at things in a way that is different from your own beliefs. And where have all your beliefs come from anyway? Do you know?

A life in recovery is very different from a life in relapse. Sometimes not easy, but no one has ever said relapse is better than recovery.

Do not be hard on yourself. Have patience, and do not compare yourself and the way you feel with anyone else. No one else is you. You are kicking a habit because you have decided to do it. That alone is a big, pride-filling event. Tell yourself a lot how proud you are of you. You should be proud of you because it is easy to relapse, easy to give in, easy to want that relief even though you know the relief is temporary.

Be strong, be stubborn, be clean no matter what. No matter what.

Expect to feel stress, frustration, whatever. These are not mandates to go ahead and use. Expect stuff to be hard sometimes. So what? “And this too shall pass.” Remember that because it is so.

Try not to make a big deal of small things. I think the expression is “Don’t make mountains out of molehills.” Don’t.

Even if you weren’t in recovery, even if you were someone who never used, you would still have stress. It is a fact of life. Things are stressful, but things are also good. A good stress buster is to think about what is good. It’s important to distract stressful thoughts, and gratitude thoughts are good stress busters.

Expect stress in recovery. Expect stress in life. Expecting stress means you are not blindsided by stress. Expecting means you are prepared. Prepared means you are ready. Ready means “I can handle this!”