In recovery, one thing you definitely want to avoid is having nothing to do. Boredom is dangerous. You start to get restless, you have nothing better to do, so you start to think, ‘What do I normally do when I’m bored?’ Boredom gives you too much time to think. It may have something to do with why you became addicted in the first place.
You can’t avoid boredom completely, but you can manage it. If you have a regular schedule, you are less likely to find yourself with spare time. People often think a routine is enough. You do certain things at a certain time and there’s no need to write it down. However, there is a definite benefit to writing it down–you are more likely to stick to it. This is especially important in the beginning when it’s easy for tasks to slip your mind. You will be more likely to remember what you wanted to do if you write it down. And if you forget, you can refer to your schedule. This ensures you won’t often find yourself trying to decide what to do next. Improvisation is not your friend at this point.
Another benefit of a schedule is that you will always have your priorities down in writing. If someone asks you to do something, you can consult your schedule. When you’ve already written down the most important things, you will automatically schedule other appointments around them. So for example, a friend wants to go for dinner, you can see you work until five, then have a meeting, but then you’re free at seven. Scheduling whatever is most important assures it will get done, whereas making a to-do list or just thinking you should do something makes you likely to abandon it if something comes up.
While it’s good to schedule important events and have some kind of regular structure, it’s also important to leave a little flexibility. You definitely want to be able to relax or maybe take advantage of an unexpected opportunity. Having too flexible of a schedule leaves room for mischief but having too rigid a schedule can feel stifling. Try to find a balance that keeps you on track without feeling too monotonous. Even if you have some free time, you are not likely to misuse it too badly if you know something else is coming soon. You may have an hour free, but if you are meeting friends for tennis, you won’t be as likely to spend that hour in the pub as you might be if you had the whole evening free.
Castle Craig is one of the most established and respected addiction rehab centres in the UK. Castle Craig provides consulting psychiatrists who diagnose associated mental illnesses like anxiety states, depression, ADD, PTSD, eating disorders, compulsive gambling, and compulsive relationships. For information, call our 24 hour free confidential phone-line: 0808 256 3732. From outside the UK please call: +44 1721 788 006 (normal charges apply).