One of the biggest changes to life in 2020 is that tons of people are suddenly working from home. While remote work has long been the norm for millions of freelancers, it is a brand new experience for those of us used to going to an office. For recovering alcoholics and substance users, it can be particularly challenging.
At the office, it is relatively easy to stay away from drugs and alcohol. Not only will colleagues and supervisors notice if you are drunk or high, but you are generally so distracted by your work that cravings don’t bother you. At home, however, staying focused on work is far more difficult. Cravings therefore become more dangerous.
That said, it is definitely possible to stay away from drugs and alcohol while working from home. Here are some tips to get you used to the challenge.
Create physical boundaries
Physical boundaries are incredibly important for recovering addicts working from home. You may not be fortunate to have enough space for a home office. Nonetheless, you can still segment your space effectively.
Instead of seeing your entire apartment as your home office, designate a particular chair at a particular table or desk. Only work from this space. Then, decide which areas of your apartment should be off-limits during the work day. This should include the space in front of the TV, most of your kitchen and, if possible, your bedroom.
It is important to find a balance. You don’t want to feel claustrophobic, so allow yourself to walk around, go outside, and use the kettle to make coffee. But if you can’t physically differentiate between work and leisure time, it is going to be hard to focus on what you should be doing. Cravings may take this opportunity to sneak in.
Structure your day
Just as physical boundaries are important, so are boundaries in time. An unstructured day is dangerous for recovering addicts. One of the side-effects of addiction is generally that one hour blurs into the next, day blurs into night. This further enables addiction, as any time could consequently be the “right” time for a drink or to pop a pill.
When working from home, structure your time as you would in an office. Schedule in a lunch break. Take coffee breaks, as you would at work. And only work during office hours if possible.
Furthermore, you should eat at meal times and make time to walk or exercise.
Use mindfulness strategies
Mindfulness strategies are regularly used in addiction treatment and rehab centers. Mindfulness is one of the most effective ways of managing cravings. Mindfulness works by helping you to see the moment through, rather than simply trying to get through it. It gives you the tools to acknowledge the craving without reacting. When you simply let the craving be, it goes away over time without causing any damage.
Mindfulness is deceptively simple, and it takes a lot of practice and training to get used to. Ideally, you’ll have learned some mindfulness strategies in rehab. If not, mobile apps like Headspace and Calm do a great job at guiding you through different courses.