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talking to someone about their drinkingNo. It is such a simple, small word. For many of us, though, it is a difficult word to say. We naturally want to agree, help, or do whatever is asked of us. Even when we are physically and mentally tired, we find ourselves overstretching to agree with what is asked of us. Learning to feel comfortable saying no to others is a vitally important step in the recovery process. Not only do you need to be able to continue to say no to your chemical of choice or certain actions or behaviors, but you also need to be able to say no to other simple requests that you just do not have time or energy to complete.

The journey to sobriety was a tough one. It took a lot of dedication, determination, and effort to face your trauma and work on your mental health. For many people, the goal in life is to continue growing, setting goals, and becoming an overall better and healthier person. Learning to say no, sometimes, is necessary to be able to do those things. When we are physically and mentally stretched too thin, it can be difficult to maintain our mental health and process our emotions in a healthy and productive manner. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you continue on in your long-term recovery and maintaining your sobriety.

Practice Stress Prevention

Everyone experiences stress. It is unrealistic to assume that now, because you are sober and living a healthier lifestyle, you will not experience any stress. Stress is natural and does not need to disrupt or consume your life. Because everyone experiences stress differently, it is important to understand how you deal best with it. Taking the time to understand your stress before you are in a moment of crisis and high pressure is important. When those times come when you feel overwhelmed, you will already know what your mind and body respond best to and how best to handle those feelings.

For some individuals, stress management may look like reading a book before bed or journaling about how the day went. Others may benefit from practicing yoga, meditation, or mindfulness. When we can manage our stress in a healthy manner, we can focus on maintaining our sobriety and moving forward towards our goals and overall well-being.

Prioritize Your Time

If you find yourself with a packed schedule, you may need to learn to prioritize. Sometimes it takes time to realize that you simply cannot do it all. Many of us want to help everyone–a friend may be moving, a parent needs help with yard work, or a sibling is struggling with school. We want to be there for everyone, especially those who were supportive and loving throughout our addiction. Sometimes, however, you need to be able to put your mental health first. If you are running on empty, you can’t help those around you. Prioritize what is most important and should be finished first. Your loved ones and friends will understand. Remember, just because you cannot help someone with something today does not mean that you cannot help in the future. Taking time for yourself is essential, and those around you who have your best interests at heart will want you to do that.

Give Up Guilt

For some people, saying no and the feeling of guilt go hand in hand. We feel bad because we want to help, we feel like we need to help, and ultimately, we are letting that person down if we don’t help. If you feel this way, it may help to think about the underlying emotions below those feelings of guilt. Why are you feeling this way? Will the person be angry if you don’t help them? Do you think that you will look bad or not as capable if you cannot take on more projects? Many times it can be difficult to understand underlying emotions and why exactly we feel as we feel. Working with a therapist can help you to understand these underlying emotions.

Keep It Simple and Straightforward

Keeping it straightforward and simple can be a great mentality to have. People will often not know or understand how you feel, what your mental health is, or what you have gone through in the past. While you never have to tell people about your past, try to be straightforward if you need to say no. Beating around the bush can cause confusion and hurt feelings. Being able to stand up for yourself and say what you can and cannot handle is powerful.

Learning to say no is powerful. When you decided to get help for your active addiction, you knew you would need to start saying no to your substance of choice, harmful or destructive behaviors, or toxic relationships. It can be much more than that, though. You may need to say no to extra projects at work if you feel you are burning out or becoming overwhelmed. You may not always be able to help your friends or loved ones. It can be difficult and bring forth feelings of guilt. Working through these feelings and underlying emotions is helpful. The work does not end because you are no longer facing an active addiction. Growth is a large part of the long-term recovery goals that most people set. Here at The Guest House, we understand that you will continue to face challenges as you move through recovery. We are ready to help regardless of where you are in your recovery. Call us today at (855) 483-7800 to learn more about how we can help you.