Getting sober is likely the most stressful life event you’ll have ever to go through. Getting sober puts your brain and body through the wringer – but you can come out clean on the other side of going through inpatient treatment. In early recovery, you want to limit stressful situations but what if you’re starting a new job?
Getting sober is stressful, starting a new job is stressful, but what happens when you try to do both at the same time? Both are intimidating but can be fun and exciting if you play it smart. Let’s learn some lessons about starting a new job in early recovery and ways to mitigate stress.
Why is Starting a New Job in Early Recovery Tough?
Getting sober for the first time in months and possibly years is jarring. You’re able to see things without the haze of intoxication, you’re able to think clearly, and you feel a new responsibility for your life. Getting sober is freeing, but early recovery brings stress you likely haven’t dealt with during active addiction. You must go through your life without the crutch or fallback of substances.
Learning to accept life on life’s terms without the crutch of alcohol or drugs is tough no matter how bad you want it. There are meetings to keep up with, people to talk to, and daily exercises to do. During active addiction, you might have tossed your responsibilities to the side but life hit’s you fast when you first get sober. Without stress management, you’re much more likely to slip back into old ways and eventually back into addiction.
You’re encouraged to minimize stress levels in early recovery, but you also have to deal with life as life comes, which could include starting a new job. Add in the stress of starting a new job to the daily stresses of early recovery and you could find yourself in trouble. Luckily, there are ways to minimize stress in both recovery and a new job to help keep your head above water.
Dealing with Stress and Working in Early Recovery
It’s not recommended to add stress on the already stressful situation of early recovery, but many addicts and alcoholics begin their journey back to reality by getting a new job. Stress on top of a stress is never a good thing but you can you these tips to help keep yourself grounded.
Honesty is a cornerstone of sobriety and can help you reduce unnecessary stress. Everyone’s employment situation is different but one of the ways you can cut back on stress is by being upfront and honest with your employer about your recovery from the start.
Let your employer know what you’re going through and what type of situations you might face. Getting sober doesn’t give you a hall pass to show up late or miss work, but it can help your employer better understand the situation should something happen.
Early recovery or not, work can be stressful. In the past work stress might have led you to drugs or alcohol or might have caused other stressful situations. Did you constantly stay late at your old job? Did you feel overwhelmed with your work responsibilities? Working in early recovery can be tough but you can set boundaries to minimize potential stress dangers.
Setting boundaries could include staying away from after work meetups at bars, never staying at the office past a certain time of day, not working on nights or weekends, or having someone to talk to at work should things become overwhelming. You obviously want to impress at a new job but if working too hard or too many hours will lead you back to addiction, it doesn’t help anybody.
Other Ways to Reduce Stress While Working in Early Recovery
12 Step Meetings
Do you ever get home from work and wish you could just vent? At 12 step meetings, you can. While 12 step meetings aren’t the place to only talk about work stress, you can discuss how new job stress is affecting your recovery and what you can do about it. 12-step rooms are full of others who have started a new job in early recovery and can give you helpful advice on maintaining your sobriety and recovery.
Meditation / Mindfulness
You wouldn’t think that breathing a certain way or visualizing things can lower your stress levels, but meditation and mindfulness are continuously some of the best stress-busters around. The breathing and mind settling of meditation can drastically reduce the stress hormone cortisol while the mindfulness can help you appreciate your new perspective. Follow up with your 12-step group or a counselor about implementing meditation and mindfulness into your recovery.
It can be easy to get too caught up in life, especially during early recovery and starting a new job but you don’t get sober so you can work – you get sober so you can get your life back. If you don’t let yourself have fun and let loose, you’ll spiral through stress which can quickly lead back to relapse. Always schedule time during the week for yourself. This could include hobbies, or sports, or hanging with sober friends. Always remember one of the best cures for stress is having fun.
Getting the Most Out of Working in Early Recovery
Getting clean and gaining new employment are two of the most stressful situations you can possibly face but they’re necessary to move on with your life. When starting a new job in early recovery be honest, maintain boundaries, and blow off steam with proper techniques to stay happy and free.