If you have ever played tennis, you are probably familiar with the “sweet spot.” When the ball makes contact with your racket’s sweet spot—right in the middle of the strings with the racket held at the perfect angle—you can feel it. You can hit the ball with both authority and accuracy.
Missing the Mark
When the ball doesn’t hit the sweet spot, things are much less predictable. The ball might hit off the edge of the racket and careen widely. You might not get enough power to get the ball back over the net. Or you might get too much height and send the ball sailing over the back line.
The more frequently you can find the sweet spot, the more successful you are likely to be on the court. But if you keep hitting the ball in the wrong spot, your results are likely to be disappointing.
Now, we know that you probably didn’t come to this blog for advice about your tennis game. Still, the idea of the sweet spot has relevance for a person in recovery from a substance use disorder.
For example, it is important for a person in recovery to find the sweet spot between boredom and burnout. Both have the potential to upend your sobriety, so it is essential to find balance between the two.
Keeping Boredom at Bay
When you were drinking or using drugs, you probably had a different relationship to time. You might have spent quite a bit of time partying. Or maybe you lost significant blocks of time while you were high or drunk. You might have spent the times when you couldn’t use drugs or alcohol thinking about when you could. Your substance use disorder, then, had a significant impact on how you spent—and perceived—time.
Now that you are sober, you may be struggling with boredom. After all, not doing something takes much less time than doing something does. But if you let boredom get its hooks in you, you may find yourself tempted to drink or use just to relieve the negative feelings you are experiencing.
So it is important to have strategies in place to keep boredom from settling in.
For example, it is a good idea to strengthen your network of friends and family who support your sobriety. Spending time with these folks is a great antidote to boredom—and the strong social connections provide support for your sobriety as well.
Other possibilities include taking up (or rediscovering) an engaging hobby, volunteering in your community, or even just trying new things—new cuisines, forms of entertainment, and the like. The key is to find activities that you enjoy. What those are is up to you—as long as they don’t put your sobriety at risk.
Beating Back Burnout
On the other side of the coin is burnout. Maybe since you regained your sobriety, you have really thrown yourself into your work. In many cases, that’s a good thing and can lead to career advancement or the accomplishment of professional goals you have set for yourself.
But if you begin to experience unrelenting stress (even when you are not at work); ongoing fatigue (sometimes accompanied, annoyingly, by insomnia); persistent irritability, sadness, or anger; and frequent illness, you are likely suffering from burnout. And those symptoms can make it tempting to return to drugs or alcohol as a way to manage the stress and other issues.
Overcoming burnout is largely about setting boundaries (this is especially true if your job has become a substitute addiction). That may involve an honest conversation with your boss and coworkers. It may mean actually scheduling time in your calendar that is devoted to relaxation and the kinds of engaging activities we mentioned above. It might even involve finding a new gig if your current job simply isn’t serving you well.
Begin to Find Balance By Reclaiming Your Sobriety
Drugs and alcohol can take over your life. And when they do, everything else suffers—your work or studies, your relationships, your financial security, your health, and more. The first step to getting your life back on track is to regain your sobriety. At French Creek Recovery Center in Meadville, PA, we can help you do that.
We offer compassionate, evidence-based care that is personalized to your specific needs. We provide medically supervised detoxification and a rehabilitation program that addresses co-occurring mental health disorders and offers strategies for maintaining your sobriety going forward. When you are ready to leave drugs and alcohol behind, we are ready to help you accomplish that life-changing goal.