Making the decision to get treatment for your substance use disorder represents a huge shift in your day-to-day life. Like any major life change, it’s not something you can expect to adjust to overnight. You may struggle with feelings of loneliness and boredom as you search for new ways to spend your time and connect with others. Learning how to navigate these feelings is a crucial step in reaching your long-term recovery goals.
How Boredom and Loneliness Can Increase Your Risk of Relapse
If you find yourself frequently facing feelings of boredom and loneliness, this can increase your risk of relapse in several ways:
- Increased anxiety and depression. Loneliness and boredom can disrupt neurotransmitter production within your body, contributing to imbalances of mood-regulating chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. A neurochemical imbalance may intensify feelings of anxiety and depression, especially if you have a past history of suffering from these common co-occurring mental health disorders.
- Negative thought patterns. Loneliness and boredom work together to create a fertile ground for rumination and negative self-talk. Without positive distractions, you may start to dwell on past mistakes or fears about the future—putting your long-term recovery at risk.
- Reduced motivation to continue your recovery efforts. Loneliness and boredom may leave you questioning the purpose of your recovery journey. This can leave you feeling less motivated to continue putting in the work that sobriety requires.
- Disrupted sleep and eating patterns. When you’re bored, lonely, and generally unhappy, it’s easy to overindulge in junk food, stay up all night watching TV, and nap during the day. This not only compromises your physical well-being but also contributes to heightened stress levels and mood fluctuations that may lead to the desire to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.
Fighting Feelings of Loneliness and Boredom in Recovery
There’s no easy answer that will work for everyone, but here are some strategies that may help you cope with feelings of loneliness and boredom in recovery:
- Be active in your local recovery community. Attend support group meetings, therapy sessions, or other recovery-related events to meet people who understand what it’s like to have a substance use disorder. Having a strong sober support network will help you manage feelings of boredom and loneliness while keeping you accountable as you work towards your personal recovery goals.
- Turn to faith in a higher power. Being part of a faith community can help you expand your social circle and find ways to cope with boredom. Even if you didn’t consider yourself a religious person before you began treatment for your substance use disorder, a place of worship can be a welcoming space where you can forge meaningful connections with people who share your values.
- Reconnect with friends and family. There’s no time like the present to work on rebuilding relationships with friends and family members. Things may be strained at first, but have faith that people who have your best interests at heart will come around when they see how hard you’re working to change your life for the better.
- Find a new hobby. Recovery is a great time to explore hobbies and activities that bring you joy and a sense of accomplishment. This can include sports, art, music, creative writing, or any activity you find fulfilling.
- Learn something new. Take time to learn about topics that interest you, whether you’re reading a book from the local library, watching a documentary, or joining a formal class.
- Volunteer. Contributing to a cause you believe in can provide a sense of purpose and connection while helping you to meet new people. Non-profit groups always welcome enthusiastic volunteers who are eager to make a difference.
- Go outside. Spend time outdoors whenever the weather permits, whether you’re hiking, walking, or simply enjoying a beautiful view while you eat your lunch. Fresh air and sunlight can have positive effects on your mood.
- Keep moving. Physical activity is not only beneficial for your physical health but also for your mental well-being. Find a type of exercise you enjoy, whether you choose to join a local gym, do online workouts, play exercise-focused video games, or take part in an adult sports league.
- Set a schedule for yourself. Structure contributes to stability and can combat feelings of aimlessness. Create a daily routine with time for activities you enjoy, as well as time to work on your specific recovery goals.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Focusing on the positive aspects of your life can shift your perspective on temporary feelings of boredom and loneliness. Set a goal for yourself to write down at least one thing you are grateful for each day, even if it’s something as small as starting your morning with a fresh cup of coffee or listening to your favorite music as you’re driving to work.
Waypoint Recovery Center Helps You Build the Foundation for a Lasting Recovery
Located in Cameron, South Carolina, Waypoint Recovery Center’s residential drug and alcohol addiction treatment program focuses on helping men and women with substance use disorders develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with everyday challenges, including feelings of boredom and loneliness. We believe there’s always hope for recovery—and we’re here to connect you with the resources you need to be successful in your sobriety journey. Contact us today to learn more.