Learning to create balance in life can be particularly challenging, especially for those struggling with addiction. It often means sacrifice, hard work, and avoiding extreme highs and lows; all of which can seem daunting to someone who is newly sober. However, one thing to keep in mind is that recovery is a journey, and the person who stands to benefit most from all of your hard work, sacrifice and effort…is you!
When we are out of balance, it can trigger the urge to turn to substances and/or addictive behaviours. It is important to recognize factors that contribute to one feeling imbalanced in life as greater self-awareness will yield greater change. Where in your life do you feel out of balance? What are the factors contributing to you feeling out of balance in your life? What does balance look like to you? Reflecting on these types of questions can often be the starting point in your journey towards a balanced life.
Where in your life do you feel out of balance? To start, it may be helpful to reflect on the various segments of your life: 1) Relationships (e.g., friendships, partner), 2) Career/Schooling, 3) Self-care, 4) Environment, 5) Recovery, etc. It is important to keep in mind that not all areas of our lives will be equally weighted at any given time. At times, our career or schooling will take precedence, while other times, practicing self-care is at the top of the list. For someone in recovery, ensuring that there are recovery-oriented activities scheduled throughout the week (e.g., meetings, groups, therapy) is vital. It’s also important to reflect on your environment and whether you feel safe and at peace in your home. Our home is our oasis and should be a place where we can be free and safe to be ourselves, authentically. Take a moment to sit and reflect on what area(s) in your life feel out of balance.
What are the factors contributing to you feeling out of balance? Some areas to examine include: difficulty with boundary setting, difficulty identifying and expressing needs/emotions, lack of purpose, very little structure in your day, poor eating/sleeping patterns, lack of self-care, unrealistic expectations of self and others, lack of acceptance, and unhelpful thoughts. As you reflect on these factors right now, be mindful of your own judgments and expectations. The ability to notice our imperfections and flaws – without judgement – is vital to change and growth. We cannot realistically make changes in our lives if we are unwilling to accept that we are all beautifully flawed… and that’s okay.
So what does balance look like to you? How do we lead a truly balanced life? One thing to keep in mind is that recovery is a constant process of learning and growing. Similarly, creating balance takes time, patience, self-awareness, and a willingness to take action. Here are some helpful reminders as you continue your journey towards balance:
Put yourself first. Take time to ensure that you are living a life that is in line with who you truly are. It is not selfish to put yourself first, it is necessary.
Mindful awareness. Be present in your life. Be aware of self-judgment and actively practice letting go of what does not serve you.
Take responsibility for your life. Learn to take responsibility for your own actions, words, and recovery. Do not engage in blaming behaviours as this will only stunt your growth.
Practice self-compassion. Be gentle and kind to yourself through actions, thoughts and words. Accept what you can and cannot control. Self-compassion is the practice of learning to love yourself.
Reach out. We all need help sometimes. It is important to ask for help and surround yourself with people who support, love and inspire you.
Don’t give up. Be your own cheerleader. Practice courage and remember that there is always a lesson to be learned with each bump in the road. Creating balance in recovery is about progress, not perfection.