Changing your life patterns after inpatient rehabilitation treatment might leave you with some extra time. You understand the importance of staying busy, but perhaps activities and people in your previous chapter no longer support your sobriety choices. So now what? Remember: there’s a wide, wonderful world to enjoy, and you can opt to be part of many different aspects of it.
What It Means to Have Purpose
Staying busy in recovery isn’t just about avoiding relapse, although that’s one vital reason. For some people, withdrawal syndrome can last “six months to two years,” according to VeryWellMind. This means that as your body and mind adjust to a chemical-free existence, you might experience anxiety, irritability, sleep disturbances, and other shifts. Without something of value to focus on, these circumstances might be even more challenging to your sobriety.
Structure helps, too. Routines and rituals help reinforce goals, provide better health benefits, reduce stress, and put what you care about front and center. Sometimes people think of a structured schedule as living life without surprise or spontaneity, but it’s the exact opposite: you make time for what:
- Adds to your happiness.
- You feel passionate about doing.
- Means a lot to you.
By creating meaningful routines and rituals, you’re in control over how each day progresses.
Sure, everyone has to make a living, and sometimes that doesn’t involve what you most enjoy. This is why it’s crucial to the foundation of your recovery to make the most of what time is yours and fill it with purpose. In some cases, people turn passion projects or volunteer initiatives into employment opportunities. But it’s also okay to simply create a better life/work balance between what you like to do and what you have to do.
Defining your purpose helps fill your time in recovery with activities and people of quality. When you answer the questions “When do I feel fulfilled?” or “What are my gifts, passions, and values?” you open up a whole range of possibilities not only for making the most of your time, but also for improving your health.
The Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota provides numerous tips for how to identify your purpose and why it enriches your life. You can learn how to discover your calling, outline your values, create workable goals, and more.
Activities That Align With Purpose
There are many ways people in recovery make the most of their new paths in life. Some might be more obvious than others, but all have a level of importance as long as they matter to you. Here are some ways to use your time meaningfully.
Become a sponsor
Yes, this has “obvious” written all over it. However, if you feel even one iota of gratitude for the people who guided you through a 12-Step program or another support sobriety group, it’s easy to understand how choosing to help others is a good investment of your time.
Find different ways to volunteer
If you’re raising a family and working, making time to give back to your community can be difficult. But there are few better ways of feeling like you belong than volunteering, especially for something you believe in. For example, many citizens in Monroe participate in an annual one-day event called the Great American Cleanup, which is part of the Keep America Beautiful campaign. Or you might choose to volunteer bi-weekly at a local food pantry. If you’re handy, you might be interested in helping on special projects such as Rooms From the Heart, which redesigns bedrooms for children with cancer. Wherever you live, there’s an organization that needs your help to make a difference.
Join a book or movie club
To build upon leisure activities such as reading or watching films by attending a discussion group reduces feelings of isolation and provides interesting conversation. Even the most introverted person might enjoy sharing views about concepts and ideas. While this particular list of benefits is geared toward seniors, it actually applies to people of all ages.
Expand your exercise efforts
You’ve learned through treatment that exercise is a necessary component to your recovery, and as long as you choose something you enjoy, it’s easier to stay with your workout routine. Maybe it’s time to branch out a bit with a running club, rowing crew, hiking group, fight competition, or some other form of collective effort that provides a goal and maybe some camaraderie.
Focus on home projects
Even if you live in an apartment, you can spend a weekend each month cleaning, clearing out clutter, and sprucing up the place. Adding a new coat of paint, installing updated flooring, repairing broken items, and other means of care demonstrate how your environment matters and reflects your renewed sense of pride. Homeowners already know how many projects both inside and outside often need attention, so pace yourself!
Find new ways to explore spirituality
Another way to use your time constructively is for introspective self-work, and many people do this through spiritual pursuits. Whether you want to dive deeper into scripture, become a member of a religious organization, join a women’s or men’s prayer circle, or any number of other methods, you might find a few hours a week provides necessary grounding and support.
Dedicate time to a new hobby
It doesn’t matter what you’re interested in: there’s likely another group of people who have ideas, resources, and enthusiasm for the very same thing! Even if you don’t feel like sharing, a hobby is a wonderful way to keep busy and add joy to your life. For fun, take a peek at some unusual pastimes, such as competitive duck herding and extreme ironing!
Spend Time With Willingway
Each week, we offer continuing care community groups all over the Southeast. We’d be honored to have you spend some of your valuable time with us.