After quitting drugs and alcohol, you may find you suddenly have a lot of free time. The good thing is, you need a lot of time to reset. Some people adapt to new routines faster. They like to have a full daily schedule, which provides them a sense of control. But when recovery is full of to-do lists and no time to relax, burn-out and fatigue can occur, which is not healthy long-term. Know that managing freedoms needs to be practiced with moderation. You need both routines and relaxation to keep a balanced lifestyle, and it takes wisdom and practice to find that balance.
The Benefits of Time Management for a Balanced Lifestyle
We need both work and play to live a balanced life. Balance is good for the body and the mind. Likewise, in recovery, routine and leisure time are equally important. The challenge lies in how to manage your time to accommodate both. A strict routine can help you get more things done, but your life may begin to feel robotic and empty, and you may become burnt out. Free time releases you from pressure, but boredom and procrastination are not good for mental health either.
The truth is, not everyone is born with good time management skills; we all need to grow in certain areas. Recovery allows you to reset. When you first become sober, you might have a strong desire to rebuild everything from the ground up, including your lifestyle and daily routines. You might also want to prove to your loved ones that you have changed your ways. Good time management helps in setting a balance for your life between boredom and burn-out. It keeps you motivated while still being able to enjoy mindful relaxation.
Practical Advice for Time Management in Recovery
Many treatment centers have intentionally built programs to help you achieve a balanced life while in recovery. There are daily routines to keep you distracted from cravings paired with free time for relaxation, exercise, and creativity. There are also therapy sessions and exercises to help you release stress. Joining a 12-step group is a good place to learn how to use and value time. Below are some practical steps for managing your time in recovery.
- Have a to-do list every day, but limit it to 3 to 5 tasks. The goal is to build enough structure into your routine so that you do not slip into boredom. Prioritize these tasks so that you always finish the most important ones first. Set up a reward system like putting a smiley face sticker on the calendar or rewarding yourself with snacks.
- Prioritize your sessions with counselors or with your 12-step group. Remind yourself that this is a time for getting support from others.
- Plan a time to connect with yourself each day. It can be 10 to 15 minutes. You can practice mindful breathing techniques, use this time for journaling, or something else that allows you to do a self-check-in. Sometimes you may just need a few minutes to sit alone and rest.
- Reserve 20 to 30 minutes for exercise or walking outside. Think of some healthy and fun activities to do with your peers at the treatment center, or with your sober friends in the future.
- Maintain a healthy sleep schedule. If you have trouble sleeping at night, reserve enough time during the day to rest or seek professional help. Work with your counselor to return to a healthy sleep cycle.
- Use your extra free time to learn some new hobbies, such as playing an instrument, painting, or photography. Things that allow you to focus and relax are ideal.
Alleviating Stress Related to Time Management
Time management skills can be stress-inducing for some people who have compulsive disorders. Completing tasks and checking them off the list might not be easy. If this is the case for you, consider getting help from behavioral therapists at the treatment center. They can diagnose and help you with specific plans to improve your condition. Once you grasp time management skills, life can become less stressful, and you gain a sense of accomplishment.
Some people with compulsive disorders find it hard to simply relax. If this is the case for you, try doing music or art therapy at a treatment center. Yoga or mindfulness exercises are also good ways to improve your ability to relax. Once your body gets the rhythm of regular relaxations, it will be easier to build stress-free leisure time into your life.
If you are in the early stages of addiction recovery, it is important to find trusted programs and counselors to help you in goal setting and accountability. You’ll need to find ways to fill the time that used to be taken up by your drug and alcohol habits, and your treatment center can help you transition into a substance-free, balanced lifestyle. This process takes time, and you’ll need a lot of support. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our compassionate staff knows how to inform your expectations about early recovery. They provide you with tailor-made treatment plans, including cognitive and behavioral therapies, family relationship programs, 12-step groups, and alumni services. Laguna Shores Recovery is a complete medical and residential facility. Call us at 866-934-5276, and we are happy to help you navigate a new stage of life. Schedule an appointment with a licensed mental healthcare professional or therapist to start setting practical goals for your recovery.