Some people working on sobriety—and perhaps you are among them—seem to be in motion constantly. They have places to be, projects to complete, commitments to meet, and activities or ideas that keep them burning the midnight oil. It is not easy to squeeze everything they have to go into the available time each day, so they often flit from thing to thing, never quite finishing one thing before taking up the next.
Often, such people—and, again, perhaps you are among them—leave a whirlwind of chaos in their wake. Eventually, that whirlwind starts to blow things apart, and the whole operation starts to spin out of control.
It is at that point that a person in recovery from a substance use disorder—perhaps you are such a person—might start craving drugs or alcohol as a way to try to slow things down and regain control of the situation.
But returning to drug or alcohol use is, of course, a terrible way to address the demands of life. You have worked hard to reclaim your sobriety. Giving it up because your overpacked schedule has you swerving in dangerous directions is not the best move.
Let’s take a look at some strategies for slowing things down and protecting your sobriety.
Decluttering Can Be Calming During Sobriety
People who are always going, going, going often don’t take time to straighten up their work and living spaces. Things pile up, nothing is organized, and finding something quickly can seem impossible. As a result, levels of stress are often on the rise simply because, for example, a person can’t find their keys or a pen or the bill they have to pay or what have you.
Taking a little time to put things in order can actually provide two levels of stress relief. First, the act itself can inject a little calm into your day. Going through your office and recycling papers you no longer need, for example, can give you a mood boost as you enjoy a sense of accomplishment—a quick win in your busy day.
Then when it comes time to find something later, you have a better chance of doing so without frantically hunting around in the mess. That moment when the thing you need is in the place you expect it to be is far more calming than a moment filled with the nervous energy that can grab hold of you when you can’t find something.
Destressing Should Be on Your Sobriety Schedule
Often, stress can seem as prevalent as the air we breathe. That is to say, there are times when we let stress build up and we don’t even really notice it—just as we don’t really notice our breathing most of the time (more on that in a moment).
But as stress builds it, it can begin to chip away at your efforts to maintain your sobriety. At a certain point, you won’t be able to ignore the feelings of stress, and you will have to make a decision about how to deal with it. Too often for those in recovery, that leads to a return to drug or alcohol use as a way to “self-medicate” against the stress.
A far better alternative would be to keep stress under control by making intentional decisions that can lower your stress levels. For a busy person with a packed schedule, the best approach to finding time to destress is likely to add specific activities to your calendar.
Your schedule might serve you better if it includes a regular time to get some exercise, a weekly trip to the store to get healthy foods, a block of time reserved for enjoying a favorite hobby or socializing with friends, or a regular bedtime (and rising time) to ensure you get enough sleep. All of those things firm up the foundation of your sobriety.
Deep Breathing Can Refresh and Restore
There is real value in simply taking a moment to take a deep breath—and you might find even more value in practices like mindfulness or yoga that encourage you to settle your attention on your breathing.
Setting aside time just to be present and breathe can reduce stress while also helping you learn to focus on the current moment rather than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. Staying present in each moment can lessen anxiety and make it less likely you will experience a relapse.
We Would Be Delighted to Help You Get Sober
At Wooded Glen Recovery Center in Indiana, we offer personalized treatment for substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and disorders sparked by trauma. Regaining your sobriety is the first step toward reclaiming your life, and we are ready and able to help you get yourself headed in the right direction.