Returning to your career is inevitable for most people in recovery. After treatment, you’ll be encouraged to return to work part-time and then eventually full-time. Finding a new job or returning to your career can take time and effort in itself, but once you’ve landed a job, your work life can still have an impact on your recovery. During post-treatment, it’s essential to consider how your work habits influence your mental health. If you are not managing your stress and burnout correctly, it could dramatically affect the success of your recovery.

Getting Back Into Work

After completing residential treatment and entering an intensive outpatient program, you’ll have a lot more time on your hands. We recommend all of our clients take on part-time work or attend schooling after residential treatment. There are plenty of benefits of returning to work or school after treatment, from career development to completing financial goals. Just like treatment was an adjustment, returning to work or school will also be an adjustment. It will take time to adapt to a work schedule and workload and manage time outside of work. However, this adjustment isn’t easy, and you’ll likely feel stressed out during this time.

Experiencing Burnout and Stress

Stress and burnout tend to be common symptoms of overworking. While it might seem tempting to jump back into work full speed ahead, this can create the perfect scenario that could leave you feeling too stressed or too tired to handle work. Taking on too much at once could overwhelm you as you get used to your new lifestyle outside of treatment. You might feel time getting away from you as you try to balance work with your personal life. If you’re not careful, you might turn to unhealthy ways of coping with stress and burnout, including turning back to drugs and alcohol.

Coping with Stress in a Healthy Way

In treatment, you’ve most likely learned ways to manage stress. Now is the time to practice this in your new life. Before attending school again or starting work, decide how you plan on managing stress in the future. Will you first take on a little work and then add on when you feel like you have the swing of things? Will you take time to practice mindfulness when you sense things are becoming stressful? What will you do to make sure that all of your needs are taken care of? Having a plan for coping with stress will help you avoid dealing with it in an unhealthy way in the future.

Focusing Fully on Your Schedule

When you return to work or school, you’ll have a new schedule that you’ll need to maintain. Your work hours might be different than the schedule you kept in treatment. Taking on work will mean balancing any recovery meetings, therapy appointments, time for exercise, making healthy meals, and relaxing. Forming and maintaining a balanced schedule requires focusing not only on the tasks at hand but also on how the workflow affects your physical and mental health. It’s essential to make sure you aren’t overbooked and that you don’t have too much free time that might lead to boredom.

Making Room for Self-Care

Physical and mental needs tend to be thrown to the wayside when work becomes unmanageable. Work feels more important because a lot is on the line. Your job allows you to meet your needs financially, and it can feel like taking a break to take care of yourself is a lower priority. However, because your physical and mental health is intertwined, neglecting your physical needs like eating well, exercising, or even showering can contribute to stress and negatively affect your work performance. When things become busy, prioritize time for self-care. Don’t look at your self-care time as something you can sacrifice for the sake of productivity.

Allowing Time for Yourself

Time might be something that feels the hardest to manage. If you have limited time outside of work and everything else, taking time for yourself might feel selfish. If you’re still learning to enforce your boundaries, it might be hard to stand up for your right to free time. Personal time is an essential part of maintaining a work-life balance. If you aren’t living your life for yourself, it can instantly become overwhelming. When scheduling time for yourself, consider allowing yourself time to watch your favorite TV show or listen to your favorite podcast. Perhaps take this time for a bath or experiencing a new hobby.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance after treatment is essential to maintaining a sober lifestyle. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when work begins to pile up. During treatment, you might have been taught about healthy ways to cope with stress and how to build a schedule that serves your mental health needs, but practicing this in your life can still prove to be a challenge. This is why it’s best to take things a little at a time. It isn’t recommended to jump right back into your full workload the minute you leave treatment. Build your foundations and schedule first, and then slowly integrate your workload. Take time for yourself through hobbies and self-care. At Cornerstone Healing Center, we offer services to our clients long after treatment because we know that support is still needed during this crucial time. For more information about working during recovery, feel free to call us at (800) 643-2108 today. 

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