Challenges to Recovery: Family Dynamics – Tips to Deal with Family Stress

How to Help an Addicted Parent Get into TreatmentGetting sober can seem like a monumental effort. Right when you think you’ve got a foothold, something goes wrong—something beyond your control sucks you in and demands that you deal with situations and people that push you to your limit. And who can always be counted on to provide the most challenging stressors of all? Family.

Our family members all know how to push our buttons with exquisite precision. How can we move past these irritating patterns of interaction and get to a positive, mutually supportive way of relating?

Tips To Successfully Deal With Family And Stress:

  • Take the long view – Difficult patterns and bad habits didn’t pop up overnight, and they won’t disappear quickly. Change can happen, but the best, deepest, most lasting changes in relationships often take some time to establish. Practice patience.
  • Recognize the pattern – This sounds obvious, but training yourself to stop knee-jerk reactions and recognize old patterns can be hard. Once you get good at recognizing the pattern as it’s happening, you’ll get better at recognizing it earlier – before things get unpleasant or the situation escalates.
  • Respond, don’t react – When you simply react, you’re allowing your emotions to dictate what you say. When you respond instead of react, you’re taking in the content of what’s being said and considering it before offering your thoughts on the matter. Listen to your family members- even when you believe that you already know what they will say. Listen and then take your time to form a response.
  • Stay in the moment – Leave the past in the past. If you’re annoyed or angry about something because it has happened repeatedly (socks on the floor, dishes in the sink, out after curfew), this is going to be difficult. But keep your eye on the big picture: you want overall better relationships, less conflict and more harmony.
  • Develop healthy ways to blow off steam – Have an outlet – working out, running, woodworking, cross stitch – something that you can go do easily when you’re feeling stressed and frustrated that will take your mind off how difficult your family can be.

Some situations are worth a special mention. A few types of families demand extra effort: blended families with step-children, families affected by a disability (mental or physical) and families in which a senior is living in the home. Learn to take the long view; respond instead of reacting, and stay in the moment. Managing family relationships might be the single most difficult part of living sober, but with support, hope and patience, you can do it.