Returning to work after leaving treatment can be incredibly challenging. You may fall into the habit of making work your sole focus, putting it before other important activities vital to your well-being. Luckily, there are things that you can do to adjust your work habits and make them work for you.
Spending Too Much Time at Work
When embarking on the path to recovery, you may find that you have a lot of free time because you no longer use substances. Therefore, you may experience this feeling that there is a hole in your day to be filled. Because of this, you may try to fill that hole with something else.
Filling the hole with activities that are not using substances is good; however, if you are spending too much time and energy with work, before long, you might experience the temptation to want to use substances to cope. Working too much can create:
- Mood swings
- Using substances to cope
The key to recovery and life is about balance. When just exiting treatment, there is already a lot of stress on your mind. While you may think that throwing yourself into your work may be helpful, the long-term effects can damage your mental health.
Overworking can also be a way of avoiding the things you do not want to face now that you are in recovery. If you find that you are buried in your work and avoiding necessary responsibilities, this is cause for concern.
Set Boundaries With Your Employer
This is critical when coping with either overworking or work reluctance. It is important to talk to your boss about your concerns when returning to work. Keep in mind that communication is key to setting effective boundaries. Talk about how you are concerned that you may overwork yourself or that returning to work can trigger memories of when you were in active addiction.
You may be able to return as a part-time employee and slowly ease your way back into full-time work so that you can become comfortable over time as opposed to being thrown in and causing anxiety. After having that open dialogue, it should help to put any anxiety at ease.
Set Boundaries with Yourself
If you need additional help to balance out your work/life schedule, set boundaries with yourself and stick to them. If you commute to work, when you leave work for the day, do not take your work with you. Alternatively, if you work from home, set a schedule for when you will wake up, begin work and keep this consistent. Have a hard stop time; if it is five in the afternoon, that is when you stop.
How to Enjoy Your Time
The most important thing to do to find work-life balance is to enjoy your time when you are not at work. While managing a substance use disorder, you may struggle with this. In recovery, you probably learned how to concentrate on being in the moment, and this is no different. When relaxing at home, try to avoid thinking about the next workday or what happened that workday. These thoughts can lead to anxiety and depression if not kept in check.
Another key component to enjoying your time away from work is time management. Studies show that time management can help reduce anxiety and increase leisure satisfaction. This does not mean you have to schedule every moment of your day; you can if that helps. What is important to take away from time management is that it helps you be in the moment. Some activities you can participate in that keep your mind off work and help you grow include:
- Getting outside
- Playing or listening to music
- Self-care practices
Returning to Work
As mentioned throughout this article, returning to work is one of the most challenging parts of leaving a treatment facility. Not only should you talk to your boss and avoid burning yourself out, but you should also know the rights you have as an employee and what programs are available for you. This would include things like Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which can help you navigate work and recovery.
Create a Plan
While this all can seem very intimidating, creating a plan will help prepare you for the challenges of finding balance in early recovery. A plan should include:
- Knowing your triggers and how to manage them
- Finding time for self-care
- Establishing a support network
- Talking with your employer
- Hold yourself accountable.
A good plan should identify what will be beneficial to your recovery process and what you may be avoiding due to fear. Remember, you have more control over this situation than you may think.
At NorthStar Transitions, we understand that making the adjustments to balance work and recovery can feel overwhelming. However, you can balance out your work-life structure with some planning and persistence, and we can help. Our programs are designed to build a treatment plan that will meet your individual needs and help you confront challenges. With us, you will put these into practice by participating in group and individual activities that prepare you for real-world challenges. Before leaving treatment, we will work with you to develop an aftercare plan so you can transition back into your life as easily as possible. Of course, we remain in your corner should you need help in your recovery. If you or a loved one is currently struggling to find balance, get help today. To learn more about our programs, reach out to us and call (303) 558-6400.