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How to Cope With Work Stress in Recovery

According to the American Institute of Stress, 83% of U.S. workers experience work-related stress. Work stress can harm a variety of wellness domains, including work performance and work relationships. Unfortunately, work stress does not stay at work as it is carried home and invades other aspects of your life. Therefore, understanding work stress is important to addressing well-being and sustaining your recovery post-treatment.

At Driftwood Recovery, we believe partnerships and proper aftercare planning are integral to recovery. Partnerships with other professionals, services, and organizations can help us ensure you have the resources you need for long-term recovery. Thus, we are committed to building a vibrant alumni program where you can connect with peers and resources for every part of your life. In particular, common life elements like work are often an important part of healing and building a purposeful life in recovery. However, work stress can impede building and expanding on the tools you need to thrive in recovery.

Yet, you may question why understanding work stress is important to recovery. You may even think work stress is a part of life. Although stress and stress at work are not something you can avoid, work stress should not impede your ability to function. Therefore, understanding the impact of work stress on well-being will give you insight into how resources in alumni can help reduce work stressors to support recovery.

The Impact of Work Stress on Mental Well-Being

As the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) notes, work is one of many factors that can induce stress in your life. Yet, work stress is often overlooked as a source of harm in other domains of life. Work stress can have a significant impact on your physical health and mental health. Listed below are some of the physical health and mental health challenges work stress can contribute to:

  • Heart attack
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance use disorder (SUD)
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Loneliness

The poor physical and mental health consequences that come with work stress highlight the importance of stress management. Moreover, mental health challenges like SUD speak to the need to understand work stress factors that contribute to psychological distress and disorders.

Chronic Work Stress: Understanding Risk Factors for SUD

Decades of research have seen a connection between stress and addiction vulnerability. When stress is prolonged, repeated, or chronic, it increases the intensity and persistence of distress. Thus, being in a constant state of distress decreases your ability to control, predict, and adapt to stressful situations. With poor adaptive coping comes a heightened stress response and homeostasis dysregulation. Moreover, impaired adaptive coping strategies and dysregulation increase engagement with maladaptive coping strategies to suppress distressing thoughts and feelings.

Furthermore, it is well known that stress factors like early childhood trauma, interpersonal conflict, and the loss of a loved one are risk factors for SUD. Yet, work stress can also contribute to overwhelming distress and maladaptive coping. In addition, unaddressed work stress can also increase the risk of relapse. Listed below are some of the ways work stress can contribute to SUD and relapse:

  • Physically or psychologically tasking work
  • Working more frequent or extended shifts
  • Lack of adequate breaks
  • Poor work-life balance
  • Concerns about job security
  • Conflict with customers, co-workers, or managers
  • Concerns about work performance and productivity
  • Managing other responsibilities and obligations: caring for children and loved ones who are older, sick, or have a disability

Work stressors compound other life stressors, making it more difficult to respond to situations with adaptive coping. Thus, work stress showcases the need to address the environmental contexts of your life. As stated in Occupational Health Science, the significance of employment in people’s lives is invaluable to the initiation and sustainability of recovery.

Finding Support in a Recovery-Supportive Workplace

When the environmental contexts of your life are considered, recovery-supportive workplaces can be born. However, what is a recovery-supportive workplace? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a workplace-supported recovery integrates evidence-based interventions and policies to:

  • Reduce workplace hazards that promote the development or perpetuation of SUD
  • Increase workplace support to prevent the development or perpetuation of SUD
  • Work to help employees maintain or regain employment during recovery
  • Promote growth and well-being among employees, workplaces and organizations, families, and communities

The goals of workplace-supported recovery can be developed and supported by employer engagement. As the DOL states, employers create a recovery-ready workplace when they adopt policies and practices that:

  • Expand employment opportunities
  • Ensure access to reasonable accommodations and other protections
  • Work to reduce SUD and recovery stigma at every level of the organization with education

In addition to accessing recovery-supportive workplaces, an alumni program can support coping skills. With support, you can continue to learn and build on adaptive coping strategies to manage work stress.

Building Adaptive Coping Strategies for Work Stress

When you are feeling stressed at work, you can utilize the coping strategies you learned in treatment to manage stressors. Some of the coping tools you can use to manage work stress include:

  • Practice self-care
  • Establish work-life boundaries
  • Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques
  • Reevaluate negative thinking
  • Chunking rather than multitasking
  • Lean on your support network

Utilizing adaptive coping strategies can help you find a balance to reduce psychological distress and prevent relapse.

Empowered Alumni: Fostering Whole-Person Healing at Driftwood Recovery

On your recovery journey, you deserve access to services and resources that will empower you to build a life free of SUD. Therefore, at Driftwood Recovery, we are committed to fostering the alumni family you need to thrive in recovery. We are not only dedicated to supporting you through treatment but also giving you a community to grow with. In our alumni program, you can find the accountability, service, and encouragement you need to lead a courageous life in long-term recovery. No matter where you are in your journey, we are here to cheer on your successes and uplift you during the difficult moments, too.

When left unaddressed, stress can cause psychological distress and impede adaptive coping strategies. Stress can increase your risk for mental health disorders, maladaptive coping like substance use, and relapse. Thus, challenges with life stressors like work stress can be detrimental to sustained recovery. In particular, employment is a significant part of life experiences and building stability in recovery. Therefore, addressing work stress is invaluable to long-term recovery. With a strong alumni program, you can engage with services and resources that connect you to recovery-supportive workplaces. Therefore, at Driftwood Recovery, we are dedicated to providing a robust network of peers and partnerships to support your recovery in every domain of life. Call (512) 759-8330 to learn about recovery-ready employment today.