After completing rehab and reintegrating into your everyday routines, you may feel workplace stress is becoming too much to manage. You learned in recovery that you should avoid triggers—places, people, things, or experiences—that could cause you to lapse or relapse. Yet, you need to work to earn a living. So, how do you know when workplace stress threatens your recovery, and what can you do about it?
Is Workplace Stress Normal?
Experiencing some degree of workplace stress is normal. However, it is no longer normal when the stress becomes excessive, and you start feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Excess stress is often a precursor for alcohol and substance use disorders.
For example, many people look forward to having a few drinks after work to let off steam and unwind after a stressful day. On the other hand, some people might use benzos or other drugs that make them feel relaxed, happy, and calm as a way of coping with stress.
Eventually, this pattern is reinforced, so one might start day drinking or using drugs while working just to get through their day. Unfortunately, at this point, the person is on the path to addiction.
What Can You Do When Workplace Stress Becomes Too Much?
The first thing you need to do is take a step back and determine what is causing the excess stress. Next, you should evaluate the following situations and behaviors to determine if any of these are the cause.
- You drink or use drugs while at work. If you used drugs or drank while at work, this can create added stress when in recovery. Since you are putting yourself in a location where you used to use, it can make you start thinking about drinking or using drugs again. As such, your stress levels can go through the roof.
- You drink or use drugs with coworkers. Another situation that can amp up stress levels is when you have to be around people you used to drink or use drugs with. For example, you would sneak off and snort coke with a coworker. Or maybe you used to go out for drinks after work. Your coworkers may expect you to join in after you return from rehab.
- You have quotas or other goals that are difficult to reach. Excess stress can occur when you worry about reaching your quotas or goals, especially when you could lose your job when you do not meet them.
- You work in a hostile work environment. When your employer, boss, or other people in the workplace act in an abusive and offensive manner, it can create a hostile work environment. Working in these conditions can take your stress levels through the roof.
- You are required to work a lot of overtime. Stress levels can quickly rise when you are not getting sufficient sleep. As a result, you may find it more difficult to utilize your coping strategies and could start to consider drinking or using drugs again.
What Can You Do About Excess Workplace Stress?
You have several options you can consider when dealing with excess workplace stress. For example, when you drank or used drugs at work or with coworkers, you probably should start looking for a new job. By eliminating these triggers and starting fresh with a new job, you can bring your stress levels down to more normal levels.
The same is true when you work in a hostile work environment. Risking your sobriety is not worth any amount of money. Instead, it is healthier for you to find a job environment you can feel comfortable in and not worry about being harassed or abused.
When it comes to working overtime, while the extra money is nice, it is not worth your sobriety. Ask your employer if they can limit your overtime hours. If that doesn’t work, you could ask your doctor to write you a medical note stating due to your health, you can only work a set number of overtime hours. Your doctor does not have to share that you are in recovery. Nor can your employer ask. It is entirely up to you whether you want to share this information or not.
Other things you can do to help reduce your stress levels include the following:
- Attend meetings. You can go to a meeting during your lunch or right after work. Talking about your stress can help you lower your stress levels.
- Use your mindfulness skills throughout the workday. You can use deep breathing, stretching, or even short meditation sessions to help lower stress and make you feel more relaxed.
- Hit the gym during your lunch hour. Getting in a quick workout can increase natural neurotransmitter levels that alleviate stress and make us calmer.
- Utilize addiction treatment aftercare support and programs. Most rehab centers will have alum and aftercare support and programs you can take advantage of to continue learning strategies to lower stress and maintain sobriety.
Addiction Treatment Aftercare in Murfreesboro, TN
At Tulip Hill in Murfreesboro, TN, we are here to help you when you are experiencing excessive stress and are afraid of relapsing. We offer personalized aftercare programs to help you maintain your sobriety. Contact us today for more information.