Bored of Being Bored in Recovery ll Martha Fletcher


I knew a man once who died of boredom.  Of course not, that is ridiculous!  Yet, boredom can be blown out of proportion and lead to relapse in recovery.  Why?  First, it is important to know that  boredom does not cause relapse, but what we tell ourselves about being bored that is the problem.  So, what do we tell ourselves?  “I can’t stand being bored.  I should always be entertained. Things should always be interesting.   If I don’t do something about this, I am going to implode.  I feel trapped and anxious with nothing to do.  I hate this feeling, I need to drink to make what I am doing more interesting.  I need to escape this feeling.”  Solution:  Dispute the irrationality behind it.  “What do I mean I can’t stand it?  Will I die?   Will I actually implode?  Must things always be entertaining and interesting?”  Changing the irrational belief to rational will lessen the intensity of the discomfort and make boredom tolerable.  

     Secondly, boredom is simply a misdirection of mental energy.  It is the gap between focused and unfocused.  We usually experience this when we are tired.  The brain essentially struggles to focus on one thing and wanders because it is simply running out of fuel. 

Solution:  Rest, relax, mindfully embrace boredom as an experience that will shortly pass, not box you in and kill you.   

     We can also overcome boredom by taking charge of our mental energy and refocusing it.  Get deliberate:  What goals can you focus on?  Get inspired:  What motivates you?  What excites you?  What are you passionate about?  Take action:  What can you do to change your surroundings?  

What can you do to give your brain a rest and do something fun to kill the time? 

     Drinking, or engaging in any other type of addictive behavior, to deal with boredom is a maladaptive coping strategy that is reinforced every time we employ it and strengthens our urge to use.   Dealing with intense urges only takes up more cognitive fuel and will most likely leave us feeling tired and bored and wanting to use again to cope.   Employing new, healthy strategies (or habits), over time, will create new neuropathways, resulting in decreased urges, less boredom (or at least more tolerable boredom), and improved quality of life. 

Martha is passionate about coaching and teaching others how to live inspired, meaningful, and prosperous lives in recovery.  Her coaching practice utilizes a client-centered, evidenced-based cognitive approach.  Her focus is on helping women overcome addictive behavior through teaching effective coping strategies, self-management skills, unconditional self-acceptance, and creating a healthy-balanced lifestyle.  She also provides aftercare support to women in recovery who are struggling to navigate life after treatment with a focus on building healthier and happier lives that will sustain long-term recovery.

MRW Recovery Coaching
3035 W. 25th Avenue
Denver, CO 80211
Ph: 720-515-0713

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth