Got stress? Who doesn’t? I just got back from a business trip and got home to find I have more work to do, construction on my building, dogs that need all kinds of care, and oh yeah, bills to pay. Not to mention, the holidays are approaching, which bring along a whole new set of stressors. So, what do I do when I’m feeling stressed and anxious?

Easy stress relievers are necessary for people in recovery

These are my top stress relievers for when I’m freaking out and have to figure out what to do on my own. Usually, one of them is effective.


Endorphins are a cure-all for a lot. I knew this guy who suffered from terrible anxiety as part of his mental health issues, and he used to go for a long, hard run every single morning. The way he explained it to me was that the running forced his head to get straight in two ways – one, his endorphin level was raised. Two, his breathing became regulated from the run, which ultimately calmed his heart rate and put him on pace for the rest of the day.

Breathing activities

Like meditation, I believe this is something that works best when you’ve had some guided training and practice. You know how when people have an anxiety attack they often hyperventilate? Well, deep breathing, or healthy breathing, will help regulate your heart rate and calm you down.


If you’re someone who feels comfortable in the kitchen, then cooking can be a fabulous stress-relieving activity. From giving yourself the assignment of finding a great recipe to buying the food, to food prep and cooking, to the finale of cleaning, the whole process can take up a lot of time and energy giving your mind a little relief from the mania.


I’m very lucky, and I live by an incredible hiking trail in California. Whenever something upsets me, I grab the dog, and we hike up that mountain. Nature gives me the perspective and the quiet I need to remove myself from the situation for a moment, and a long walk with the dog allows us to connect and have a spiritual moment. I know a dog trainer who told me there’s nothing a dog loves more than to take a nice, long walk with their human in nature. When I see my dog prance up the mountain and look back at me with a grin, I know I’m doing something good for both of us, and it gives me a lift in that way too.


Do not underustimate the power of naps. They can help you get extra rest when you need it, they help clear your head and reset if you’re having a rough day, and they’re just good, clean, healthy fun. If you are able, I recommend taking a nap when you feel stressed, depressed or running out of steam.


Sometimes a nice respit can simply be grabbing a book, or whatever Ereader you’re using, and find a quiet space to read. Fantasy, mystery, romance, whatever let’s you mind relax and take a vacation from itself in another fun world.

To be clear, I do not suggest that you don’t call your sponsor, or go to meetings. Those things are essential if you’re a person who needs recovery group support, but the goal here in recovery is to create a world we can live in comfortably. To me, living comfortably means having tools I can use at any moment, for any reason.