Channeling Stress Into Fitness

Taylor McCaughey

Lately, I’ve learned a lot about healing. Someone I love has been in recovery from a substance use disorder, and I’m so grateful that he’s getting better. But his struggle with addiction has stirred so much anxiety, stress, and fear in me. I want him to be happy and healthy. I want to be supportive and loving and help him navigate this journey.

At times, it’s been like an emotional roller coaster. But I soon realized that in order to be strong and supportive for my loved one, I needed to be the best version of myself possible. That meant self-care needed to become a priority. In order to take care of him, I had to really take care of me.

When I’m at work, I’m busy enough that I find I don’t focus so much on the emotions of my personal life. But during my commutes, or during downtime, the stressful thoughts surrounding my personal life usually resurface. So instead of sinking into depressed or anxious feelings, I try to channel that energy and focus into fitness instead. It helps me cope.

Taylor McCaughey running

Everyone has a favorite activity or hobby that they turn to in times of stress. For me, it’s exercise. From running to lifting weights to yoga, I can say without a doubt that my fitness routines have helped me manage my anxiety.

Exercising has really been an emotional outlet for me. Physical activity helps produce endorphins which help the brain cope with anxiety and depression. When I finish a workout, I can truly feel my mind body and soul become more centered and peaceful.

You do not need to have access to a gym to fit in some exercise. Try getting outdoors for a walk or jog. Breathe that fresh air. Put on some tunes and try to relax. Give yourself that time. You might be surprised to discover just how much a short walk can improve your state of mind.

There were times where I found myself always putting others first, especially my loved one in recovery. It was my natural instinct, given what he was going through. Though, through counseling, I learned that putting myself first is the greatest thing I can do for him—and he reminds me of this all the time. He wants me to be happy and healthy, too. He’s afraid for me, too. Recovery is often a team effort, and he supports me just as much as I support him.

I would encourage anyone who’s supporting someone with a substance use disorder to take care of themselves, and to give fitness a try. Study after study shows that physical exercise has a big impact on mental health and well-being. Exercise routines have also been proven to help people with substance use disorders sustain their recovery, too. If you’re coping with the stress of addiction, there are simply no downsides to lacing up those sneakers and seeing where your fitness journey takes you.

Want to use your favorite fitness activity to help families struggling with addiction? Create a Shatterproof fundraiser!

Man in a support group

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