Time spent alone can be just as beneficial as time spent with others. Yet, when you are in residential treatment, it can be difficult to determine when you need space to think versus when you are isolating yourself from others. Therefore, learning what “needing space” actually means and how to utilize this time can help you improve your alone time.
#1. Determine: Alone Time vs Isolation
Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate when you need time to recharge versus wanting to isolate and not engage with the day's activities. You could benefit from asking yourself questions like:
- Do I really need a recharge?
- Am I just feeling unmotivated?
- Do I really have the mental capacity for this today?
Sometimes verbalizing your feelings can help you understand what is driving your thoughts and emotions. Therefore, you can evaluate the situation and accurately assess how you are feeling by doing an emotional check-in with yourself.
#2. Setting a Limit to “Me Time”
If you decide that you need a mental recharge and it is not unhealthy isolation, you will want to establish how much time you allow for yourself. When you limit your “me time,” keep it consistent. Doing so will prevent you from establishing unhealthy habits and associations, such as turning me-time into a time to avoid other things.
Being consistent will also help hold yourself accountable and focus on using this time to reset, refocus and recharge. To establish a healthy time, try and find an even balance of time where you can get the space you need so you are not losing interest in the day's activities.
#3. Personalize Your Space
When walking into a residential treatment facility, it can be hard to see it as a comfortable place to stay. The best thing to do is make it as close to home as possible. This can include:
- Putting up pictures of pets and family
- Brining your comfy sweats or favorite blanket
- Bringing books to read
- Decorating your space with colorful artwork or flowers
- Other ways to personalize your area may include (if allowed) rearranging furniture
The benefit of this is creating an environment that feels safe and comforting. Even the smallest changes to a living space can impact the feeling of the room.
#4. Creating a Space in Communal Areas
In a residential treatment facility, there are typically common areas shared by the group. When you are not able to decide whether you need time to yourself or if you are trying to isolate yourself, it is a great idea to try and create a comfortable space within the common areas.
Communal spaces allow you to maintain some sense of space and give you the sense of being around others. You might sit in a chair away from others, and this way, others will understand that you need some space. When you are in the common area, try doing a calming activity that offers mental health benefits, like drawing, exercise, or yoga. Sometimes being engaged in another activity will create the space you need while in a setting with others.
#5. Someone to Hold You Accountable
While in residential treatment, it can be hard to hold yourself accountable. This is why it is always a good idea to find someone such as a fellow peer. Peers are perfect for helping you stay accountable because they share similar experiences. You might create a plan or goals that you want them to hold you to. For example, you might let them know about the time limit you set for your “me time.” This way they can let you know if you exceed this time.
Having a peer to reinforce accountability can also be helpful when you are unsure if you are isolating or truly need some self-care time. Additionally, discussing this with a friend and openly verbalizing it can help you evaluate your behavior and the best actions to take.
You Are Not Alone
Many people in treatment are also struggling with finding their own personal space. There is nothing wrong with taking time to yourself while in residential treatment and keeping yourself accountable for unhealthy isolation.
Remember that there will be some days where you feel like you can conquer the world and other days where you just cannot seem to get on your feet. Those days are just as valid because everyone needs self-care days, even you. Remind yourself that you are not alone in this struggle. If you are worried about space and other concerns, some resources can help ensure that you are in the right residential treatment program.
Creating space within a treatment center can be a struggle. Learning the difference between needing a recharge versus unhealthy isolation is a key step toward successful recovery. The ultimate goal is to live a happy and healthy life. Luckily, NorthStar Transitions is here for you. At NorthStar Transitions, we offer a safe and comfortable space for you to focus on treatment. Our experienced staff will work with you to prepare for and face life's challenges. Our integrated approach to care will help you establish healthy coping mechanisms that you can use in a group setting or when you are alone. Our peer support groups will also keep you in touch with others who share similar experiences, thus creating wholesome and lasting bonds. If you or a loved one needs help, don't wait; get help today. To learn more about our programs, reach out to us today by calling (303) 558-6400.