Imagine you just experienced a painful breakup or lost a loved one. Along with the heartache that comes with grief, the mind is prone to wander to the person you just lost, making the days feel long and often unbearable.
Naturally, the more downtime you have to contemplate your loss, the more you experience the pain of your grief.
Many grief counselors recommend their clients partake in activities that make them happy, not only to improve their mood, but to occupy their thoughts and time. In many cases, the key to overcoming grief is to take time to process the loss while staying occupied so as not to dwell on it.
This advice is not specific to counselors who specialize in grief. When it comes to addiction recovery, remaining sober requires the same balance.
When a person suffering from a substance use disorder does the hard work of saying goodbye to drugs and alcohol, it is not uncommon for them to experience a sense of loss.
The Danger of Boredom in Recovery
Sobriety is a grand transition for a recovering addict, and it requires a lifestyle adjustment to be successful. Much like grief, those in recovery must find activities to occupy their idle time.
Not only is boredom often the cause of addiction, it is also the greatest cause of relapse.
Because of this, it is essential for those in recovery to explore new interests like volunteering, engage in new environments, and maybe even embark on a new career path.
It is important to remember that anyone making the shift to sober living will be experiencing a dramatic change that affects their entire life. The transition from treatment to recovery requires a fresh outlook, clear priorities, and strong motivations.
The person will be required to make choices that put their sobriety first, and this often means being diligent about making healthy decisions and staying active.
Boredom: A Mindset
When people hear the word ‘boredom’ they immediately attribute it to a person not having enough to do. But did you know that it is possible to be both busy and bored?
The truth is, boredom is as much a state of mind as it is a state of being. This is why it is important to not only engage in enjoyable activities, we must also learn to find peace in downtime and mundanity.
It is the balance between staying active while allowing time to reflect that will provide the best chance for recovery.
3 Ways to Manage Boredom
1. Practice Mindfulness. One of the greatest ways to establish a mindfulness practice is to regularly meditate. In meditation, the practitioner is called to focus on the moment at hand and find interest in what is happening in that exact instant.
While this may sound like a simple task, it is actually quite challenging and requires much discipline and patience.
One of the biggest risks boredom poses to recovery is it creates a space for self-doubt and ruminating thoughts.
Meditation and Mindfulness will teach you to calm your mind and take interest in what is happening in the current moment.
When you begin to ask questions about what you are seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling, you will learn to find the world endlessly fascinating.
2. Go Outside. Oftentimes, boredom can result simply from not experiencing a change of scenery. Being constantly surrounded by the same environment is bound to dull the mind.
When this occurs, take a break and engage in the outside world. A nature walk will not only provide you with a stimulating surrounding, it will also get your blood flowing, giving you a boost of endorphins.
If going for a walk isn’t enough to hold your attention, consider beginning a nature collection and educating yourself on something new.
Collect rocks, leaves, flowers, or seashells to bring home and identify. This hobby will teach you how to pay attention to your surroundings and give you a new appreciation for the natural world.
3. Reach Out. When boredom strikes, call a friend. This is one of the many reasons it is important for those in recovery to have a support system.
Despite our best efforts and intentions, it is natural to experience moments of boredom, sadness, and temptation. Having someone to call when in need of a distraction is a crucial element in preventing relapse.
If possible, establish a relationship with someone who is also in recovery. Not only will this provide a common connection, they will understand your need for support during your moments of boredom.
In turn, you will find sense and purpose in the instances you are able to provide support for them.
The Alo Approach
In order to avoid the depression, anger, and bitterness that often accompany boredom in recovery, we provide our clients with many activities that can help fill the time they once dedicated to their addiction.
Along with our expert counseling services, we also introduce our clients to:
By creating an opportunity for our clients to engage with these different hobbies and practices, we offer methods to combat boredom once they leave our care.
However, in line with our non 12 step holistic healing model, we don’t believe these activities are meant to be used as tools for avoidance, but a complementary ritual alongside internal healing.
Alo House is LegitScript Certified and a Joint Commission Accredited Addiction Treatment Center.
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