A common complaint I hear on a regular basis is, “I’m so bored”. This complaint is common for many people but is especially common in recovery circles. Boredom can be a normal part of life, but it can contribute to several issues. People that struggle with boredom run a higher rate of depression and anxiety. Boredom can contribute to problems in relationships. Chronic boredom can contribute to drug and alcohol abuse and eating disorders. For those of us that have struggled with addiction and compulsive behaviors there can be a direct link between boredom and relapse.
A number of tools can be included in a relapse prevention plan to battle boredom. Here are a few I have found useful.
Exercise – Join a gym or take a class. Walking is my personal favorite. It provides an opportunity to process my thoughts and emotions and it doesn’t cost anything.
Develop a hobby – This not only gives us something to do but it can also provide the opportunity to meet other people with similar interests.
Volunteer – Volunteering provides activity for us and can also build confidence and self-worth as we help others.
Now, let’s talk about busyness for a minute. Staying busy can be one of the best ways to help ourselves overcome our addiction. It’s hard to be bored when we are busy. The tools I have just listed for dealing with boredom can keep us busy. In my own recovery, getting out of the house to just do something has helped me to stay sober. I write my blogs from my favorite coffee shop to get out of the house, fight boredom and interact with people.
On the other hand, I have found that busyness for busyness’s sake can lead to unhealthy places. I have used unnecessary busyness as an excuse to avoid group meetings or healthy, intimate community with others. I have used unnecessary busyness as an excuse for a lack of rest and a lack of sleep even though I have identified fatigue as a major contributor to relapse. Too much busyness can lead to exhaustion and burnout.
So, what’s my point? We need activity and stimulation. We also need time to rest, relax, and sleep. I have found it helpful to make a plan or a schedule. I know how much time I need for sleep and rest, and I plan for that time. I plan time for exercise and interaction with others. I have found that an activity like walking fights boredom while at the same time fighting busyness as it allows me to process my day, my thoughts and my feelings. It is in my best interest to fight boredom while avoiding pushing myself to exhaustion.
If you can relate to my ramblings shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear your thoughts.