Returning to work or starting a new job after completing treatment can fill you with a sense of pride and purpose. While you may feel relieved to have a source of income, you may also feel stressed about returning to work after a hiatus. Under these circumstances, a person in recovery might revert to unhealthy coping mechanisms that could trigger a relapse. To avoid compromising your sobriety, follow these tips when work feels overwhelming.
Perhaps you have had to work late in your new role, or maybe the very thought of the paperwork piled on your desk causes your mind to race even after you clock out for the day. Long hours and job-related stress can negatively impact your sleeping patterns, causing your physical and mental health to deteriorate as a result.
Lack of sleep has been linked to:
- Decreased cognitive abilities
- Weakened immune system
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Increased risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease
- Sleep deprivation can have psychological consequences as well, including
- Mood swings
- Reckless behavior
- Suicidal thoughts
Poor mental health can hinder your progress in recovery and on the job by interfering with your ability to regulate emotions and cope with challenges. To prevent setbacks in your sobriety and your professional life, aim to sleep six to eight hours each night.
Practice Mindful Eating
Aside from interfering with your sleeping patterns, stress from your job can also lead to overindulging in salty, sugary, or fatty foods. It is not uncommon to replace alcohol or drug addiction with food addiction, as some people in recovery turn to eating as a form of coping with stress. While some unhealthy foods may seem to provide a temporary mood boost, eating poorly can create debilitating health problems in the long run. A balanced diet is especially important for people in recovery. Eating nutrient-dense foods can prevent spikes in blood sugar, reducing the likelihood of mood swings and cravings that may threaten sobriety.
Often, eating nutritious meals is easier said than done. Learning how to adjust to life after treatment, to a new job, and to healthier eating patterns all at once can be even more challenging. If you lack the time or energy in the morning to pack a lunch before work, try preparing a healthy lunch the night before. An even more relaxed alternative is to pack your leftovers from dinner for the next day. Remember to also bring healthy snacks, such as fruit and granola bars, that will energize you and satisfy your hunger while you’re at work.
Try Therapeutic Activities
Stress can lead to diminished work performance as well as anxiety, depression, and other unwanted side effects. It is key to understand triggers sooner rather than later and practice healthy ways of responding to them. When you’re feeling overworked, it’s essential to set aside time to relax and have fun. Wellness activities such as meditation, yoga, and qigong can alleviate stress by encouraging you to take a mental pause and simply live in the moment. Next time you find yourself thinking about your to-do list, try reading, listening to music, or taking on a new hobby to balance your mind.
Searching for a job or returning to work after treatment may not always be smooth sailing, but with time, you will become more adept at balancing job-related concerns and your recovery. It may take weeks or even months to find a job you love, but hard work pays off in the end. Don’t be overly critical of yourself, stay in touch with your recovery network, and revel in the new professional connections you have formed. Through this process, remind yourself of everything you have achieved and will achieve, and never stop prioritizing your recovery