As we come to the close of April, it’s important to recognize April as Stress Awareness Month and how it relates to problem gambling. Stress awareness can be a huge help in a person’s recovery from gambling addiction, or their motivation to get help for their problem gambling.
Stress can be a trigger for someone struggling with problem gambling. If they hit a stress level, they may feel the temptation to gamble, even if they don’t want to, to destress and feel better. If being more aware of stress helps those struggling with problem gambling, then we should talk about how stress awareness and management can be a huge help in recovery.
Stress can have a huge impact on someone’s mind and body, but what is stress? Stress is the body’s reaction to excessive positive or negative emotions. Financial problems, time away from family, and even planning for a party can cause different levels of stress. If you find yourself gambling during stressful times, you may have discovered that stress is a trigger for you.
So, what can you do?
If you feel triggered to gamble when stressed, here are a few things you could try.
- Just two minutes of focusing on something else, can give our minds enough time to let go of a thought. One easy way to distract yourself is to put on some positive music and take care of some household chores or other things that can be taken care of immediately.
- Meditation has been shown to decrease mental stress, and increase focus, clarity, and positive thinking. Spending as little as a few minutes a day could make a huge change in your stress level.
- If you’ve never meditated before, sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and focus on your breathing, the sounds around you, and the air touching your body. This will help you quiet your thoughts, and stay aware and in the moment.
- Exercise isn’t just good for your body, it’s good for your mind as well. When we engage in fitness activities, our body produces chemicals that make our mind and body feel better. These “happy chemicals” in our body, tend to flush out the negative chemicals that come along with stress.
- You might be surprised, but just a 20 minute walk can make us feel better both physically and mentally.
If you feel that your stress is triggering you to gamble, try these different means of stress relief, and, hopefully, the urge to gamble will slowly subside. If you believe your stress levels are triggering you to gamble, you can find help through the NYS HOPEline by dialing, or texting, 1-877-8-HOPENY (or 1-877-846-7369). The calls are confidential, and the person you speak with can connect you with a number of different places to help you get your life moving in a more positive and healthy direction, especially if you’re struggling with an addiction, such as gambling.