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Balancing Sobriety, Work, and Family

Rebuilding a life in sobriety is not only exciting and fulfilling, but it’s also time-consuming.

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Balancing Sobriety, Work, and Family

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When your daily focus is on making recovery the top priority in your life it means investing time in the cause. Going to recovery meetings, keeping up with outpatient therapy, and participating in support groups necessitate a certain number of hours in the weekly routine. 

So, how do you balance sobriety with the demands of work and family? While this may seem to be an unachievable expectation, it really isn’t. There are practical ways to manage your time that allows for each of these important entities to get their due. Tapping into these simple strategies will pave the way for a balanced life that allows for all areas of your life to function smoothly.

Transitioning From Rehab to Daily Life

In the earliest days of recovery it is very common to feel overwhelmed. So many aspects of your old life need to be eliminated or overhauled in order to make room for a new healthy lifestyle. This will take up an enormous amount of emotional energy in those early weeks and months after rehab.

Because of the added stress involved in making these fundamental changes it is always best to honor this time and put sobriety first. This means allowing the time needed to establish new daily habits, such as a new sleep routine, dietary changes, and adding a fitness routine. Combined with keeping up with meetings and staying in touch with your sponsor, these first couple of months following treatment will require much emotional and physical energy.

7 Tips for Balancing Sobriety, Work, and Family

Once you feel more comfortable in your post-rehab sober lifestyle you will naturally begin to take on more and more daily obligations. Returning to normalcy, such as engaging more in work and family responsibilities, entails more demands on your time and energy. The balancing act in recovery becomes key, as stress can quickly undermine recovery efforts. Consider these 7 tips for maintaining a healthy balance between sobriety goals, work life, and family time:

  1. Time management. On average, we have 16 hours a day during which we accomplish our daily tasks and carve out some personal time. To be able to stay on top of your daily goals, including recovery needs, work, and family time, it helps to start the day with a plan. How you design your day can vary according to your preferences, from a detailed to-do list or hourly phone calendar to just setting 3 basic goals for the day. It takes time to adjust to this kind of structure, but as it becomes a habit you will become less stressed about meeting daily obligations.
  1. Realistic daily goals. It is important to set achievable goals instead of “pipe dream” type goals. Setting the bar too high is destined to lead to failure, frustration, and stress. Estimate the amount of time needed for each activity. For example work=9 hours; gym=1 hour; A.A. meeting=1 hour; helping with chores=1 hour; spending time with family=3 hours; downtime=1 hour. This practice can help you set realistic goals for the day.
  1. Healthy activities. Woven through the days should be simple lifestyle choices that will aid recovery and overall wellness. When you are feeling strong and healthy you will be more in control of your recovery and daily life. Maintain a nutritious diet and limit fast food, caffeine, and processed snacks. Do one physical activity per day, such as a daily walk, a gym workout, a swim, a bike ride, or a hike. 
  1. Relax and restore. As daily responsibilities compete for your time and energy stress levels can rise. Keeping tabs on stress is critical in recovery. There are multiple techniques to utilize to help manage stress, such as taking yoga classes, using guided mediation apps, practicing focused deep breathing, and taking time out for spiritual reflection.
  1. Sober support network. Of the three—sobriety, work, and family—your sobriety needs to garner the most effort. Without maintaining sobriety everything else that matters in life will be lost. Schedule into your weekly goals the continuing care recovery actions needed to help support sobriety, such as attending meetings, connecting with your sponsor, and joining a group therapy session. 
  1. Unplug as needed. No matter how carefully you may have planned your days, you may still find yourself short of time. Somehow things just take longer than you planned and before you know, it’s bedtime and you are feeling stressed out. In many cases, the problem stems from spending too much time online with social media, texting, gaming, and such. Recognize when you need to limit your smartphone use, or unplug for a week, and watch how much more productive you will be.
  1. You time. All working parents understand how difficult it is to carve out any real time for themselves. When you have the added responsibility of tending to your recovery that “me” time may seem elusive. During the workweek it is difficult to squeeze in any time for yourself, except maybe daily exercise and hopefully some meditation time. But as far as hobbies and interests, those may have to wait for the weekends. Schedule at least two activities a month that are strictly for you to keep your life in healthy balance.

Recognize the Signs of Overload

Even the best of intentions can fall short. Unforeseen problems—an illness, a family emergency, troubles at work—can torpedo your plan. As you progress in recovery you will learn how to make adjustments in your daily and weekly routines when unexpected things happen that will require your time and attention. Learn to read the signs of burnout, as this can lead to a relapse:

  • Sleep disturbance, insomnia
  • Deep fatigue
  • Digestive problems, headache, physical weakness
  • Negative emotions
  • Irritability
  • Relationship problems
  • Reduced job performance

If you are feeling overwhelmed and need some additional support or guidance, schedule an appointment with your therapist, reevaluate your daily schedule, and attend additional recovery meetings. Above all else, your recovery must take priority.

About the Author

Ken Seeley is an internationally acclaimed interventionist, having years of experience in this field. Certified as a Board Registered Interventionist-Level 2, Seeley has worked full-time in the business of recovery and intervention since 1989. He is a regular contributor to CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and ABC on the topics of addiction and intervention. He was one of three featured interventionists on the Emmy Award winning television series, Intervention, on A&E. He is also the author of “Face It and Fix It,” about overcoming the denial that leads to common addictions while bringing guidance to those struggling with addiction. Ken Seeley is the founder and C.E.O. of Ken Seeley Communities, a full spectrum addiction recovery program located in Palm Springs, California. 

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