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Preventing Boredom in Recovery

Many people in recovery get bored easily. For many, this feeling a trigger than brings about bad ideas, such as using or participating in old behaviors. Why is boredom such a challenge for people who want to stay clean and sober? And how can you learn to cope with it and even keep yourself from being bored in the first place?

Why Boredom is So Challenging

When you were using alcohol and drugs, you probably had just a few minutes to sit still every day. It wasn’t comfortable, and you probably tried to keep your time sober at a minimum. After all, when you were having those fleeting moments of sobriety, you were probably spending your time thinking or obsessing about the next time you could get high or drunk again.

People often dislike sitting still, especially those with substance use disorder who actively get drunk or high. Sitting always gives you time with your thoughts and places you right in the center of your reality. It gives you time to feel uncomfortable emotions.

For those in early sobriety, boredom gives you time to think about the past. It's normal you will feel a compulsion to use sometimes. There are triggers that almost everyone has, and boredom is a common one. It’s natural, but it can be very uncomfortable. Idle times may make this feeling worse, especially when your head is not in a good place. Thinking too much, especially about the past and using drugs or drinking, can lead you to a slippery slope.

Things to Do When You’re Struggling With Boredom

In the era of COVID-19, it’s easy to get bored. But you don’t have to stay bored. Here are some tips and tricks to help you stay sane when you’re struggling with a feeling of boredom.

  • Write up a schedule. This activity will help you look forward to the day ahead and lets you know what “free time” you will have every day. (And then you can fill it up!)
  • Pick up the phone. Talking is much more engaging than texting. Hearing a friendly voice can change your whole mood. Reach out to a sponsor, sober buddies, and loved ones who support your recovery.
  • Go to an online meeting. If you're not sure where to find one, check your local NA or AA website for instructions. Many places also have a hotline you can call for more information.
  • Play with your pet. Science shows that animals are great companions because they provide us with unconditional love and stress relief. If you can, take your pet for a walk.
  • Watch something inspirational. There are plenty of inspirational stories online, from short video clips from people in recovery to movies. Try to avoid movies with graphic drug use, as they can be triggering.
  • Write in a journal. Keeping a gratitude journal can help you stay focused on the good. You can also write about your day, your hopes, your dreams, whatever you want.
  • Read a self-help book or your 12-step book. Some people love to take their Big Book, close their eyes, say the serenity prayer, and flip to any page to find inspiration.
  • Work on 12-step homework. If you don’t have any yet, call your sponsor and ask for some help.
  • Learn a new skill. If you’re still social distancing, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn things or find yourself a new talent. Both Eventbrite and places like Youtube offer online classes and lessons on many topics.
  • Go for a jog, bike ride, or walk. Make it a goal to do this every day. Regular exercises have a ton of benefits, including giving your mental health and general mood a boost.
  • Make a wish list or goal list. Now is the time to look to the future! What kinds of things do you hope to achieve?

These are just a few ideas of ways to keep boredom from taking over. Keeping busy is essential in early recovery. You may end up tired at the end of the day – so remember, easy does it! You don’t have to overdo things. Just try not to give yourself too much time doing nothing.

Consider Sober Living

Now, more than ever, it’s important to have people in your life who support your recovery. Sober living situations are a great way to rebuild your life and adjust to working on your new goals. Learn more about how a sober home can help you in your recovery. Call us at 760-216-2077 to learn about housing options.



Read Full Bio
Mark Gladden
CEO / Founder
Mark Gladden is the founder of By The Sea Recovery, a sober living facility located in beautiful San Diego, California. After struggling with addiction, Mark finally found recovery and a new purpose in life, to help others who are battling the same battle he faced.
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