Thursday, September 23, 2021

Rethinking Boredom


Overcoming Boredom in the Change Process:

Introduction– Boredom is quite often cited as one of the more challenging aspects when dealing with recovery from substance use issues. It is safe to say that no one likes boredom, and we all have to face boredom at one time or another. Therefore, it makes sense to be prepared for boredom when making life changes as we move away from a life of addictive behaviors. One way to do this is to adjust our viewpoint on boredom. We can learn and practice mastering boredom instead of allowing feelings of boredom to derail our progress.


As a group consider and discuss the following thoughts about refocusing the viewpoint on boredom. After each point is read, discuss ways in which you may agree (or disagree) with these points and discuss how each point may apply personally in your life and experience:

 

§  Boredom is not an excuse – “I started getting high again because I was bored”. “I went back out with my old friends who get high because I was bored” “I stopped my routine for recovery because it got to be boring” – Statements like these are just excuses. Sure, boredom happens in recovery, and it can be a relapse trigger, however it still is not a valid reason for returning to a self-destructive lifestyle. As you read on you will see that there are better ways to cope with feelings of boredom

 

§  We can learn to accept boredom – Another way to rephrase this is that we can learn to tolerate boredom. Very few people on this earth have a life that is exciting 24-7. Boredom on occasion is a part of most people’s lives. In fact, most people welcome some “down time”. For example, some really good stories and movies have slower parts that help build up the overall plot and add to the larger story. We can use these “less exciting” times in our lives to our advantage as down time can be a productive part of our recovery process

 


§  Boredom does not have to be as bad as it seems – “Boredom is what boredom does” – In other words, what we choose to do when we feel bored is the most influential factor in overcoming boredom. Preparing ahead of time to fill our more boring times in life with positive or productive activities can make all of the difference. Reckless decisions based on boredom often have reckless outcomes

 



§  We can embrace boredom as a challenge rather than an obstacle – Our attitude about boredom means so much when it comes to conquering boredom. For example, if we get in the habit of sulking and just staying stagnant during boring times then our boredom will likely persist. Rather, we can learn to look at boredom as a challenge to overcome using creativity and ingenuity. A person with a good attitude about boredom may say something like: “I’m feeling bored right now, so what new and interesting idea can I explore to get rid of this feeling?” This approach will help rather than just sitting there waiting for boredom to pass on its own or doing the same old boring things to fill boring times like scrolling the internet or social media aimlessly or surfing channels on TV.

 


§  Boredom can motivate you (if you let it) – Similar to the previous points, if we feel like there is too much boredom in life, rather than give up, let this motivate you to make changes. If you feel like your life is far too boring, this can be the fire that ignites a positive lifestyle change like seeking a new career, learning a new skill, taking on a new responsibility, exploring a new hobby or doing something creative or innovative.

 


§  Gratitude can help (“I’d rather be bored and stable than excited but in chaos or trouble”) – A stable life in recovery may at times be boring by comparison with the substance using lifestyle, yet the safety and security of recovery far outweighs the chaos and consequences of addiction. Therefore, we can actually learn to be grateful to be bored occasionally if it means a better overall life for us.  It is better to be a little bored but happy rather than feel excited in between periods of misery (like in active addiction for many)

 

Skills for Mastering Boredom


Review the following and work on making your own “Boredom Plan” by taking note of which skills and suggestions you are going to apply in your own life to prepare for, cope with and conquer boredom


1.   Look beyond entertainment – Sure, things like, TV, YouTube, internet, and social media can help with boredom, but these things alone can get tiring, boring and unfulfilling especially over time. There is nothing wrong with these types of entertainment but its best to not have them as your only way to deal with boredom or it is likely you will stay bored.

 


2.   Creativity – Music, art, building, designing, writing, developing, etc. are all great ways to overcome boredom on a long-term basis. Think outside the box! Create and innovate

 


3.   Learning – Taking an interest in a topic and building our knowledge and skills can be a great way to overcome boredom. Learning a language, studying history, researching the origins or science of things that interest you or finding out how things are made or work, are examples of learning that can be very interesting. It may take time to develop a love for learning about various topics, but it works!

 


4.   When a task is boring, try it a different way – If there is something in life that you have to do that you find boring, is there a different way to approach it? Again, this could require creativity. For example, doing something like combining chores, like cleaning with exercise, dancing or singing can make it much less boring. Meeting your best friend at the laundromat then getting coffee can make a task like that fun, for example

 


5.   Take healthy risks – If you are bored can you think outside the box and try some things that you thought you would never like? You might surprise yourself if you try a few times. Maybe a friend or your partner has a hobby or interest that you thought you would never try – Why not try it again with them a few times even if you didn’t like it in the past when you were using. An interest for new things can catch on with time and practice if you keep an open mind and patiently approach new ideas.

 


6.   Consider things from your youth – A lot of people find interest in going back to things they did when they were growing up as they are able to reignite the same passion for these things as adults. Maybe when you were a kid you were into comics or collecting something or maybe there was a game or sport you loved as a kid you could get back into as an adult.

 


7.   Consider helping others – So many people have found fulfillment in helping and doing things for others. For example. learning to bake cookies for yourself is one thing but doing it to share your baked goods with friends, family or neighbors can be even far more fulfilling and motivating. So many millions of people have stories of volunteering or just helping their community or neighbors as a satisfying way to spend their time.

 


8.   Learn to engage deeper – If there is something you have to do in life that you find boring, ask yourself: Am I fully engaged in this process? For example, sometimes people may try 12 step meetings and find that sitting there listening quietly can be boring. However, becoming an active part of the group by participating and taking on a commitment can deepen appreciate and engagement which is a great way to alleviate boredom. This can apply in a lot of life areas as well based on the general rule: “We get out what we put in” to an activity

 

Closing discussion – What is included in your Boredom Plan?


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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Remembering When...



Directions: This is a group activity for personal sharing and group cohesion building. The directions are simple: Take turns as a group discussing the following questions from this list. There is no specific order

 

Start each question with: “When was the last time that you…”


Had an argument with a close friend

Had a good time socially while sober

Made a new friend

Did something to help others

Left the state

Left the country

Went somewhere fun

Finished reading an entire book

Helped someone who needed it

Listened to someone who needed support

Did something to care for yourself


Ate a really, really good meal

Cooked a really good meal

Used your support system effectively

Got in trouble at a job

Got a raise at work

Had insomnia

Had a really restful night’s sleep

Felt “true love” (romantically) for someone

“Crushed” on someone

Felt a real and meaningful connection with someone

Went out on a date

Had a break-up


Cleaned your home really well

Got really muddy or dirty

Had an especially good day

Reached a milestone or achieved a goal

Had a good satisfying exercise session or work out

Got good news from the doctor or medical professional

Achieved a physical or health goal

Chose the healthy option

Avoided stress or anxiety effectively by using a coping skill

Avoided anger by using coping skills

Made a really good decision or avoided a really bad one

Made the ethical or moral choice even if the wrong one was easier 


Prevented yourself from falling into a depression

Felt a strong sense or motivation or inspiration

Realized something about yourself that you had not before

Bought something for one of your hobbies

Hiked, camped, fished or did something “out-doorsy”

Practiced one of your hobbies

Didn’t get up because of depression

Laughed uncontrollably

Cried uncontrollably

Had a nice dream

Had an incredibly bizarre dream


Felt embarrassed or regretful for something you did

Felt really proud of something you did or achieved

Felt a true and deep sense of gratitude

Felt that “everything is going to be okay”

Gave a nice complement

Received a really nice complement

Had a pet or animal make you laugh

Did something nice for a pet or an animal

You thought about moving

You thought about a career change or going for more education or training

Got into a physical altercation

Were able to effectively share or explain your true feelings with someone

Prevented a fight from escalating

Made the best of a bad situation


You had something randomly or accidentally good happen to you

You did a solid favor for someone or helped them through something

You gave someone a random or unexpected gift

“Overdid” it with substances

Went a day without thinking about drugs or alcohol

Had police involvement

Had to apologize and did

Were apologized too

Felt like a villain

Felt like a hero

Did something creative

Felt a sense of “awe”

Moved on from something that you needed to let go of


Took it easy on someone instead of giving them a hard time

Someone took it easy on you when they could have given you a hard time

You made someone feel good (emotionally not physically or sexually)

Lost or had to pay a good amount of money

Came into a good amount of money

Hugged one of your loved ones

Ran into an old friend

Spent quality time with immediate family

Someone checked in on you and it was helpful

Sacrificed your time to help your family

Were there for a family member who needed help

Said something you regretted later

Did something you regretted later

Felt grossed out

Planted something


Won a competition, award, or reward

You said or thought to yourself “never again”

Said to yourself “I am really happy”

Were able to have a positive escape from the world without using substances

Experienced something that you will surely remember for life

Learned something that was life-changing

Had a “moment of clarity” or “awakening”

Looked in the proverbial mirror and felt comfortable with what you saw

Had a mysterious feeling like “someone out there is looking out for me”

Thought deeply about the meaning of life

Thought deeply about where you want your own life to go

 

This list is long but feel free to make up your own…


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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Meta-emotions

 



Meta-emotions

Background: What are meta-emotions? To put it simply, meta-emotions are our feelings about our feelings. The concept of meta-emotions considers the idea that when we experience feelings, we also encounter other feelings about the experience itself. Another way to look at this is that meta-emotions are secondary feelings that come after a situation that has triggered primary feelings.  Meta emotions are our secondary emotions (later) about these primary emotions (initial). Consider an example to increase understanding:

 

Sharon – Sharon’s was very angry with her sister for doing something that she asked her many times not to do.  While Sharon’s anger was being released, she felt a rush of excitement while yelling at her sister uncontrollably. However, after a little time passed and Sharon calmed down, she thought about her anger and related behaviors she felt guilty for letting her anger get the best of her. She also then started feeling a little anxious about her inability to control her anger sometimes. [Meta-emotions bolded]



Sometimes people can feel comfortable or complacent with an emotion especially if that feeling is common or habitual: For example:

 

“To be honest, I am angry so often these days I feel I am in my comfort zone when I am mad”

 

“I am so used to being sad since I have been suffering from depression that I have become almost complacent with my own sadness, which I know cannot be a good thing”

 

Sometimes a meta-emotion can be the same as the primary emotion:

 

“I can feel myself getting anxious when I just think about feeling anxious (even if nothing made me anxious yet)”

 

“Anger just makes me even more angry so I cannot be around it”

 

“I am afraid of being afraid which keeps me from trying new things at times”

 

There are no right or wrong answers. Learning about your own meta-emotions takes self-reflection and honest self-awareness. If you are up to the task, try to identify your own meta-emotions about some of the following feelings:

 

Stop and think deeply first, then fill in the blank with a meta-emotion (or two as there can be more than one)

 

I feel ________ about feeling angry

 

I feel ________ about feeling sad 

 

I feel ________ about feeling anxious

 

I feel ________ about feeling afraid

 

I feel ________ about feeling annoyed

 

I feel ________ about feeling guilty

 

I feel ________ about feeling surprised

 

I feel ________ about feeling happy

 

I feel ________ about feeling _______ (try some of your own ideas)

 

 

We can also experience meta-emotions about other people’s feelings. Answer some of the following with meta-emotions. Think and be honest with yourself:

 

When others around me are feeling anxious, I often feel ______

 

When others around me are feeling angry, I often feel ______

 

When others around me are feeling sad, I often feel ______

 

When others around me are feeling happy, I often feel ______

 

When others around me are feeling proud, I often feel ______

 

When others around me are feeling jealous, I often feel ______

 

When others around me are feeling ______ (select your own), I often feel ______

 

 

So now what? So, you have learned about and practiced working on meta-emotions. What can we do with this information to make self-improvement?  Consider the following discussion points as a group:

 

1. Be mindful of your “comfort zone” with meta emotions. Ask yourself “have I gotten too comfortable with feeling angry, guilty, depressed, silly, etc.?

 


2. Watch out for meta-emotion fears – Fear of emotions can hold your social-emotional development back from growing and expanding. Are you afraid of feeling some feelings?

 


3. Identify adverse (unhealthy) and unbalanced meta-emotions – Some meta-emotions are not good for us or for our overall well-being.  Sometimes meta emotions can lack balance or congruency. Consider how some of meta-emotions can be problematic especially over time. (These are just a few examples as there can be other troubling meta-emotion pairings)

 

a.   Feeling happy about others who may be feeling angry or sad

b.   Feeling guilty about our own feelings of happiness

c.   Feeling jealous about others feeling proud

d.   Can the group come up with more examples?


4. Develop a positive relationship with positive emotions – Addiction and mental health issues can impact the way we experience emotions. As part of the positive change and recovery process it is important to learn about and explore emotions that are productive and positive like happiness, joy, love, peacefulness, compassion, kindness, etc. How can you learn more about and increase emotions like these in your life and relationships?



5. Accept and recognize that some of our meta-emotions may be deep-rooted based on our personal experiences - Emotions quite often can originate in our past and our childhood and are impacted by things like trauma and other experiences. If you have identified some issues from this worksheet on meta-emotions, it would be a good idea to follow up with these issues in therapy or with your support system. If you notice that your meta-emotions may be impacting your relationships or your behavior, then engaging in honest and open conversation with others close to you (or a professional) may be necessary. Seek help and support if needed.

 

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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Body Talk

 


Body Talk

This is a simple group activity focused in discussing some body-related substance use and mental health topics. As a discuss the following:

 

Adjective Descriptions - Select one of your own body parts that best fits each of these adjectives:

 

·        Strong

 

·        Limited

 

·        Coordinated

 

·        Awkward

 

·        Attractive

 

·        Embarrassing

 

·        Inherited (Looks like someone in your family)

 

·        Unusual

 

·        Ordinary

 

·        Special

 

·        Favorite

 

·        Least Favorite

 

  •    If you want to, (and have time) make up some more adjectives of your own….

 

The Body and Behavior

 

Discuss the following from your own perspective and experience:

 

1.   When your mental health is not doing well, how does your body suffer? (“For example, when I am depressed and stressed, I get headaches” or “My stomach acts up when my anxiety is bad”)

 

2.   Looking at the situation in reverse – How can taking care of your physical health, improve your mental health?

 

3.   If you misuse alcohol or other drugs, how does it take a toll on your body?

 

4.   If you are working on managing substance use issues, how can taking care of your body help and what specifically can you do to improve your physical health?

 

5.   What body parts are you doing a good job caring for nowadays?

 

6.   What body parts might you be neglecting or overlooking?

 

7.   If your body could talk, what would it be telling you?



Health Habits

Discuss your heath habits in each area:

 

·        Sleep (For example “poor sleep habits, going to be too late, sleeping too much, or positive habits getting good rest every night)

 

·        Diet

 

·        Exercise

 

·        Relaxation

 

·        Taking Medication (if applicable)

 

·        ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living for self-care such as bathing, grooming, personal hygiene)

 

·        Seeing Primary Doctor for Check Ups

 

·        Going to the Dentist

 

·        Seeing Specialist (if needed)

 

·        Follow through with recommended treatment for chronic illness

 

·        Eliminating “bad” habits – (Smoking, binge eating, junk food, etc)

 

 

If time, review the WHO info sheet:  https://www.who.int/mental_health/management/info_sheet.pdf

 

 

Planning Ahead –

 

Ø What are some things you can start doing to improve your physical health?

 

o   Short term (schedule doc appointment)

 

o   Over the long term (Start exercising, take my meds, etc.)


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