Every recovering individual has a unique path to walk toward healing. Some have to deal with past trauma, while others struggle with mental health problems. However, even those who are lucky enough not to be in these two categories still have one common enemy of recovery to watch out for boredom. Boredom is considered one of the top predictors of relapse.
Is Boredom Harmful in Recovery?
Boredom is common even among children and busy people. It comes from more than just not having anything to do. Feelings of boredom are signs of isolation and dissatisfaction with an individual’s current state. Sources of boredom may include long working hours, excess free time, and monotonous rhythms in life. Boredom is a poor mental state that can hide backslides in recovery progress.
For those who are in recovery, feelings of boredom may be familiar. Many people begin using substances to escape boredom. Some even view sobriety as a boring lifestyle because they think it means they can’t have fun anymore. After putting so much hard work into achieving early sobriety, this familiar friend called “boredom” may arrive again, especially when substance seeking and use no longer occupy one’s time.
Boredom is an early sign of emotional relapse. It shows that individuals lack the motivation to engage. Consequently, boredom may cause them to feel stuck or isolated and may trigger anxiety and depression. Especially if boredom is not related to a lack of social activities, individuals should review and reinforce their relapse-prevention skills. On the other hand, if boredom is allowed to linger, these individuals may be visited by a desire for a mental escape.
How Boredom Evolves Into Relapse
Relapse is never a result of a single moment of weakness. It happens in phases. The first phase is emotional relapse. At this stage, an individual may not be thinking about using substances, but they lose touch with activities and practices that keep their emotional state in check. They may begin to feel bored, restless, discontent, and irritable. These mood changes happen because they have let neurological pathways travel old paths because of a lack of healthy emotional upkeep.
When these negative emotions accumulate to a certain point, the individual may contemplate using drugs or alcohol. This is the phase of mental relapse. The individual may think about the people and places where they used substances. They may fantasize about using again and plan ways to reengage with substances.
If the first two phases of relapse aren’t caught and rectified, they can quickly lead to physical relapse. This is where individuals act on the cravings and seek to obtain and use substances. The first instance of drug or alcohol after a period of sobriety is called a lapse. If the individual continues to use unrestrained, this is a relapse. The timing for early intervention has passed. At this point, they may need further treatment and a stronger relapse prevention plan.
Strategies to Stop a Relapse
Relapse prevention plans help people recognize relapse at its emotional stage and stop it in its tracks. Recovering individuals should not overlook feelings of boredom and restlessness. Instead, they can use those warnings to pause and assess their life to see if they have neglected a critical aspect of relapse prevention. It is still easy to change one’s behavior at this stage and implement self-care techniques to stop relapse from progressing further.
If one feels bored or isolated, one must seek help from their support system. Then, they can verbalize concerns and fears. Additionally, attending regular peer support meetings means one may find relief knowing that many recovering individuals struggle with the same emotional conditions. Being connected with a strong recovery community is an excellent way to heal from boredom and emotional relapse.
Even if an individual has regressed into mental relapse, there are ways to reverse it. They should not hide their cravings and urges but share them with an accountability partner. Meanwhile, they can find ways to distract themselves from dwelling on the idea of substance use. It can be as simple as going for a relaxing walk or working out at a gym to destress.
How Can I Relax Yet Not Feel Bored?
Many recovering individuals find it difficult to find time for relaxation and rest without getting bored. However, all recovering individuals should take relaxation exercises seriously. Relaxation is an essential part of recovery because the brain needs it to heal. Yet, relaxation does not have to be boring. Many activities can be both engaging and restful, especially when individuals are doing something they love or something they find soothing. Relaxation doesn’t mean simply doing nothing. It can include hobbies and casual outings with loved ones that bring peace without leaving empty time that leads to boredom.
Boredom can often lead to a relapse if not properly managed. To overcome boredom-related relapse triggers, you can adopt more effective self-care techniques. Laguna Shores Recovery offers programs and strategies to help you stay active and healthy during recovery without falling prey to boredom and dysfunctional lifestyle patterns. We use evidence-based treatments and adopt an integrated and holistic approach to recovery. We believe in personalized treatment plans by integrating traditional therapies and experiential therapies, including mindfulness meditation, creative therapies, and experiential therapy, in addition to excellent relapse-prevention planning. Laguna Shores Recovery also offers aftercare programs that connect you with a community of recovering individuals. Call us today at (866) 774-1532.