The Importance Of Finding Balance In Recovery
For most addicts, life during the addiction was anything but balanced. The sole purpose and focus of the day was to address the needs of the addiction, creating a hyperfocus on one specific area of life. This was all about the addiction and meeting your needs, numbing your fears or frustrations and getting rid of unpleasant thoughts through the use of alcohol or drugs, gambling or food or even turning to sex or other addictive types of behaviors.
Addicts in recovery often face a very real challenge in turning from the hyperfocus of the addiction to a balanced manner of addressing all facets of life. Through months and years of having only one purpose and one focus, trying to now manage personal relationships, work, entertainment, sobriety, financial issues and freedom as well as wellness issues can be like relearning a set of skills that have become rusty from lack of use.
There are two extremes that many people in recovery gravitate towards. The first is a feeling of being overwhelmed by all the areas of life to manage, which can create a state of procrastination. These individuals recognize the need to address balance in their life, but they don't have the specific skills or structure to begin organizing, prioritizing and planning to create harmony in their life.
The result is a freeze in moving forward. It is as if there are simply too many choices and too many possibilities that inhibit effective decision-making.
The other extreme is to transfer the hyperfocus of the addiction on to something else. This may be work or studying or perhaps a personal relationship or even exercise or wellness. While this is a positive step forward, the intensity in one area of life quickly becomes an unhealthy imbalance where all of the physical or emotional energy is spent only on one part of a healthy lifestyle.
There is a real danger in recovery both with procrastination due to being overwhelmed and becoming highly focused on just one area or one component of life. That danger is in a relapse as the pressures mount with both types of choices.
Getting Rid Of The Addiction Thought Process
Another consideration for those with addiction is to understand how to enjoy what they are consistently experiencing and not always to want more or something that is better or increasingly rewarding.
Understanding that life will have good days and bad, ups and downs, and times of peaceful calmness and upbeat excitement is all a part of allowing for balance in life. Every day cannot be better than the day before. Thinking that it can, will also increase the risk of a relapse, particularly if better days are equal to success and a bad day means a failure in your thinking.
This is why balance and focus in all aspects of life are so important. Perhaps today you have a bad day at work, or a person you care about is cold or distant, which may create a negative impression for that aspect of your life. If you have other areas of life where things go well, you can focus on those areas for today, naturally providing a balance and understanding that not all aspects of life have to be perfect to have an overall positive experience in life.
First, it is important to understand that balance in life is constantly changing. Everything you do or experience will create an action, which will have an impact on your balance.
For example, you may have plans to go to work, meet a friend for some time at the gym and then spend a quiet night with a great book. This is your original day schedule, and it offers you a sense of balance and harmony as you are addressing your work/financial needs, your wellness and social needs as well as time to yourself.
Then, out of the blue, your boss asks you to work a couple of hours overtime. You immediately panic as your plans to go to the gym and see your friend go out the window, along with your chance to enjoy that great book.
If you allow concrete plans to create stress in your life, it is impossible to achieve balance. Balance is all about responding positively to changes and learning to be accepting of the world and how it will impact your life. Being in balance means making choices that are best for you and being able to accommodate and alter your plans to meet your goals.
Perhaps in the example above you choose to work late. You can call your friend and reschedule going to the gym, or perhaps meet and go for a walk or a coffee instead of a workout. You may also negotiate with your boss and work for an extra hour or perhaps come in earlier the next day, still leaving enough time to get in your other planned activities.
Tips For Creating A Balanced Life
One of the most important aspects of creating a balanced life is to find things you enjoy in each area of your life. After all, it is much harder to go to a job you don't like or to engage in social activities where you don't feel comfortable.
Getting to understand what you like and what you want to try is perhaps the most important part of being in harmony and balance. For many who are recovering from all types of addictions, this can be a time to experiment with different activities and to complete a deep personal assessment of goals, desires and objectives in life.
To assist with balance, try the following ideas that are developed by category.
Money and Time Freedom
• Set a budget – most people in recovery will find they have money they simply didn't have before. Work with a family member, friend or a coach to develop a budget to allow you to start to save money and obtain your financial goals.
• Job – this is a good time to assess your current career and determine if it is right for you. If it isn't something you enjoy, what would you like to do? Often a new career requires training, so developing a plan to allow you to return to school or to train for a new job is the first step in this positive change.
• Time – just as you set a budget, try setting a schedule. For some people, scheduling allows them the ability to avoid becoming overwhelmed with things to do. For others, scheduling can address difficult times where having a support person give them a call or making plans to meet can be helpful in avoiding the pull to use again.
• Evaluate relationships – it is important to continually evaluate your relationships. Stopping to consider if the individuals in your life are trusted, safe, helpful and supportive will be critical. People that are not safe, helpful, trustworthy and supportive need to be out of your life, as they will create an imbalance.
• Your Needs and Goals – all healthy relationships have time together and time apart, but they all provide mutual support and work towards a common goal. Taking the time to talk about needs and goals will be important and will allow you to set boundaries and guidelines to develop a healthy balance of togetherness and individuality.
Health and Wellness
• Health – what are you doing to be healthier today than you were yesterday? Everyone needs to have exercise and social interaction, but how much exercise and socialization is an individual factor. When adding healthy activities and exercise in balance, you will find you have more energy, a better sense of self-grounding and also a personal confidence that will make a difference in feeling great about yourself. When you have personal confidence, you are able to trust yourself, creating balance and harmony in your abilities.
• Wellness – socializing and interacting with friends, family and colleagues are all important in mental health and personal wellness. For those in addiction recovery, socializing with others and asking for help and support is often a very difficult thing. Having a support network in place will help to create a balance as there are always people available who are committed to being supports for your recovery.
Hobbies and Recreation
• Get involved – finding things to do in your spare time is critical, as these are the times that self-doubt, anxiety and negative thoughts and feelings can quickly become the focus. Make a list of things you want to do or try that related to recreation or hobbies. Try each one, setting a goal for each activity and asking for someone to go with you if you are uncomfortable in trying new things alone.
Remember, the key to balance is to have all of these components in your life. It is not about cutting the day up into hour-long blocks and ensuring you are doing so many minutes of each category on a given day. It is about finding a way to do something from each category that is positive, pleasant and that works with the given day and what life brings.
The Recovery Coaching Advantage
It is easy to read information on life balance, develop a list of things to do in each category and then plan your day, week or month. However, as mentioned several times, life doesn't always cooperate with even the best-made plans.
To address these real-world, real-time types of challenges where balance may seem like an impossibility, a recovery coach can be instrumental in providing the guidance and support needed.
All communication between the client and the coach is confidential. Rather than looking at the past or the current therapeutic issues in recovery, a coach is a practical guide to making the best choices and developing effective coping skills for real-world problems.
These professionals are not counselors or therapists, at least in this role, but rather they work on the immediate problems that those in recovery are facing. Designed to allow the recovering addict to have a trained professional to discuss options and make a decision as to the best choice to meet their recovery needs, these coaches are a valuable resource that is just a phone call or an appointment away.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW is a Radio Host, Certified Transformation Coach and author of the award winning book The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery and Ecourse. Join her membership life and recovery coaching community at www.wakeuprecovery.com. You can take her quiz to find out if you are co-dependent or sign up for a 30 minute strategy session with Sherry at www.sherrygaba.com. . Check out Sherry’s new book The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking Your Obsession.
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