Most people do not get a choice about whether they work or not. Bills need to be paid, and usually, that requires one or more jobs. However, it is essential to find a balance between work and home life during recovery. Added stress will impact your mental and physical health and put unnecessary strain on your relationships. Heightened stress can cause an increase in trigger responses like cravings and intrusive thoughts. Maybe you find yourself coming home from work feeling drained and emotionally exhausted after interacting with customers and coworkers all day. Finding a balance between your work responsibilities and home life will lower the risk of relapse.
The New York Academy of Sciences published a study that reported “highly stressful situations and chronic stress increase addiction vulnerability, that is, both risk of developing addiction and risk of relapse.” A few of the specific stressors mentioned in the study include highly emotional and “distressing events that are uncontrollable and unpredictable.” Below are a few additional risk factors you may encounter in the workplace:
- Poor Support
- Interpersonal Conflict
When Responsibilities Interfere With Personal Life
A research paper published by Alcohol Research Current Reviews reported that “studies assessing alcohol relapse after treatment completion and discharge” show that stress can “increase the risk of subsequent relapse.” You need to be aware of how work affects your recovery and make changes to stay healthy. Several ways overworking can affect your health include:
- Insomnia and sleep disturbances
- Mood swings and increased irritability
- Increased cravings
- Worsening of anxiety or depression symptoms
- Exhaustion and difficulty focusing
Over time, covering for a coworker or working multiple part-time jobs can cause your professional responsibilities to bleed over into your personal life. You might feel pressured to perform better at work, or you may have more tasks than can be reasonably done in a typical workday. No matter the cause, when work begins to affect your relationships and home life, it can impact your recovery.
Set Clear Boundaries
You deserve to feel safe, appreciated, and supported in the workspace. Unfortunately, too often, that is not the case. One way to try and create a barrier between your personal life and work is by determining what you need to stay healthy and communicating those needs. Setting clear boundaries with coworkers and supervisors can be stressful in the moment, but the long-term benefits include:
- Lower overall stress levels
- More time for self-care, maintaining close relationships, and personal responsibilities
- Better quality and output at work
Returning to Work After Treatment
Boundaries are critical when you are returning to work after an absence. The transition back can be destabilizing, and making sure your supervisor knows your needs allows them to make adjustments within the confines of the policies set up by your workplace. Some treatment facilities like White House Recovery and Detox include aftercare planning and services that can help you safely return to work. In addition, most traditional jobs have mental and physical health resources you can use to cope with challenges.
Accept Help and Use Resources
No one likes to ask for help, but sometimes it is necessary to achieve a healthy work-life balance. You could request fewer hours or transfer to a different department. In some cases, you might find it helpful to reach out to your human resource representative or talk through your options with your supervisor. Not everyone feels comfortable doing this, and that is perfectly normal. It takes strength to ask for help, but you will often get the support you need in the end. In extreme cases where the work environment is toxic, you may need to reach out to resources outside your company, including the federal, state, or local government. Below are a few places you can look for this information:
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- United States Department of Labor (DoL)
- Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)
- United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Your human resource representative can help you find additional local resources, including those available at your state’s department of job and family services.
Practice Daily Self-Care
Your mental approach to dealing with workplace issues can significantly impact your general health and continued recovery. Part of creating a work-life balance involves using self-care to lower anxiety after and before work. Self-care can take the form of saying “no” to requests for overtime, permitting yourself to cut back on chores around the house, or moving some of your medical appointments to telehealth.
Take time for yourself and use the skills you learned in individual or group therapy to ground yourself. Practice staying positive and accepting the changes you can make. Avoid becoming overwhelmed by looking at your options, making a plan, and executing it.
Work stress can cause issues during recovery whether you have been in the same position for years or are returning to the workplace after attending a treatment program or other significant absence. You may feel obligated to help coworkers or work overtime to meet goals, but burnout is a real issue for individuals in recovery. You need to protect your mental and physical health. The dedicated staff at White House Recovery and Detox understand the importance of maintaining a professional life while balancing changes taking place at home. No matter where you are in your recovery, there are steps you can take to lower stress levels and make your workplace more comfortable. Therapy and other treatments can also provide you with coping skills to help you overcome daily stressors. To learn more about our facility and the different services we offer, you can reach out to us at (800) 510-5393.