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Dealing with Boredom in Recovery

If there is one thing you don’t want in recovery, especially early on, it’s boredom. When you’re bored, you look around for something to do, and some of the things that occur to you won’t be helpful. Think about how many times you got drunk or high because you had nothing better to do.

Boredom is a kind of low intensity anxiety. You feel restless and dissatisfied. You are normally alone. Boredom in the presence of others is more like annoyance. Perhaps the worst part of boredom is that it gives you time to think. Thinking is an excellent thing to do when you face a specific problem. It’s not so great when your mind wanders and you start ruminating. That’s when every awful thing you’ve ever done or experienced starts crowding in on you. Then you really want to escape boredom.

Boredom isn’t as common as it used to be. At any given time, we can take our phones out of our pockets and look at Facebook, play a game, or watch pretty much any movie or TV show ever made. This constant entertainment doesn’t make us happier but it does mask our boredom. Many people believe, with some justification, that we are now in the grip of a widespread addiction to electronics. Quelling boredom in this way has been shown to lead to greater dissatisfaction and other negative emotions, including feelings of depression.

Clearly, you want to deal with boredom in a way that won’t make you feel worse and more likely to relapse. Ironically, when you don’t try to avoid boredom, you less often feel bored. We are bored when our attention is not engaged. The more time you spend looking at your phone, the more your attention is eroded and the less you can pay attention to anything. When you can’t pay attention, you become bored. You want a distraction. The more you can avoid these quick fixes for boredom and focus instead on meaningful pursuits, the less bored you will be.

That said, you don’t want to be at loose ends either. You don’t want to find yourself with loads of free time to sit and ruminate. It’s better to have some regular responsibilities and activities. You don’t want to fill up your schedule to the point of stressing yourself out, but you want you want a bit of structure and still room to breathe. Recovery is a major life change, and you need a bit of space to process it.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox and decide on a plan for treatment. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at info@tgwcdetox.com to learn more.