Drug and alcohol rehabilitation is a difficult process, but a lot of people don’t tend to talk about a very large part of it: the waiting. The point of a rehabilitation centre like ours is to remove people from society for as long as they need to take space from the world, because battling an addiction while simultaneously dealing with all of the pressure life can throw at you is an incredibly hard prospect.
Because you’re afforded time and space to learn about yourself and what enforces habitual drug or alcohol use in your life, it can often feel like a game of “hurry up and wait”. Boredom is a key motivator in a lot of relapses, simply because the habit of using a substance has been formed, and we all tend to turn towards our habits when we don’t know what else to do with ourselves. The key here is to reprogram your habits, and train yourself to do something else when bored, something that has the same or a similar pay-off as drugs or alcohol without the destructive elements.
It may sound cliché, but doing something productive with your waiting hours is a great way to change your habits. Getting to the end of your day and being able to look back on what you did with some kind of tangible pay-off is an excellent rewiring tactic, simply because you’ll gain satisfaction from seeing the results of time and effort that you put in right in front of you. This is key in reforming your habits.
It’s important to note that when we say productive, we don’t necessarily mean something academic or something to do with work (although these are also great options). Find something you enjoy doing, and create some kind of project you can track progress on. Maybe you want to restore an old piece of furniture, write a short story, or learn about that one weird fact you heard about three years ago. Do something you can look back on at the end of the day with satisfaction and reward your brain.
Sometimes it’s as simple as trying something you’ve never done before. Learning a new skill dedicates time as well as both mental and physical energy to create new neural pathways, making it an excellent way to head off boredom. Once again, learning doesn’t have to look academic, you can learn whatever you want.
From learning a language to starting a herb garden and everything in between, whatever stretches your brain is going to make learning in the future easier for you. In addition, the endorphin release from the satisfaction will help a lot with fighting cravings. We have a lot of classes around the centre that give you the chance to try something new, like art and music therapy or yoga. And if you find you don’t enjoy what you tried, there’s always going to be something else.
There are hard days, and then there are hard days. Days where you might not feel like doing anything new or productive, days where you don’t see the point in continuing your recovery, or days where you just don’t particularly want to get out of bed. It’s okay to feel this way, we all have days like this, and they can be very difficult to deal with.
At Zen Detox we understand that recovery is far from a linear process, and we know that some days are going to be a lot harder than others. On these days it can be even more important to combat boredom and sadness to prevent triggering cravings, but how do you do that when everything feels hard?
Thankfully we live in a world where technology is at our fingertips. If you’re having a hard time, throw on a podcast or a Youtube video, write down how you’re feeling and shred it, or get into a new show. Sometimes it’s as simple as giving your brain something to focus on that doesn’t promote ruminating.
Most of all, be kind to yourself. Pay attention to what you actually need on that day, like more sleep or a walk, rather than what you’re craving.
Meditation and Thinking Forward
Let’s take a quick moment to talk about the distinction between rumination and introspection. Introspection is a healthy way of looking at your life without judgement and evaluating what changes you want to make to either yourself or what you’re doing, whereas rumination is going over and over your flaws in your mind in order to judge yourself. We want to aim for introspection, not rumination. Meditation is one way to do it.
Most people think of meditation as sitting and trying to completely clear your mind, but that’s not really how it works. Sitting, lying down, or executing movements very deliberately are all ways you can meditate, and the only consistent factor is allowing your mind to run and watching the thoughts. Keep yourself in the moment with your breathing, or by counting, and allow your brain to wander off on its own so you can watch where it goes. If you’re keen to try meditating, we have some treatments centred around meditation that you can try at our centre.
You can also try writing a bucket list of things you genuinely want to do. It’s a great way to look to the future in a positive way, and helps you to identify what you want to work towards doing.
Build a new foundation.
Start from the ground up, and build new habits for your future in one of the leading centres for rehab NZ has to offer. You don’t have to take this journey alone, so give us a call now to start getting your life back on track.