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Headed Back to Work After Treatment? 3 Tips to Avoid Relapse

You’re sober. You have a steady job. You’re working through recovery.

You’re grateful for your sobriety. You’re grateful for your paycheck. You’re grateful for…your co-workers? Maybe…but probably not every day. What about those days when they invite you to the bar for happy hour? What about the office holiday party? What about the celebratory champagne when the business lands a new account? Heck, what about your co-worker that’s in the same place you were a year ago and hasn’t found their way out yet?

So many triggers! So much temptation! So many potential pitfalls might surround you at your job.

As you try to live a “normal” life and show up to work each and every day sober, co-workers and circumstances can make maintaining your sobriety a challenge.

Staying Sober On the Job

What can you do? Here are three quick tips to help you avoid relapse and keep you on track in recovery:

Tip #1: “Know Thyself”

What are your personal triggers? Be completely honest with yourself, then set healthy boundaries. If you know a situation, place, or person makes it tough for you to resist relapse, run in the other direction.

Don’t hang out with that co-worker after work. Don’t attend the office party. You may get accused of being anti-social, but…who cares? Your sobriety is way more important than your social image (an image that wouldn’t benefit you in the long run anyway, if you gave into temptation.)

Tip #2: Pull a Houdini

He was the master of escape. In certain situations, you might need an escape plan, too. Even when you try your best to avoid triggering situations, you can unexpectedly find yourself in one. In that case, be ready with a plan. Have a strategy in place to reroute those dangerous thoughts. It can be simple. In fact, it’s probably best if it’s effortless. You could try:

  • Listening to music
  • Journaling
  • Reading
  • Playing a game
  • Taking a bathroom break
  • Going to lunch

Tip #3: Integrate Fitness

How’s your health? Are you making efforts to take good care of your body during recovery? This is an essential part of the process. Your physical well-being affects your mental health, work performance and ability to cope with difficult situations. Try the following tips to stay healthy and fit at work:

  • Pack a balanced meal for lunch. (Bringing your own lunch will avoid unhealthy fast-food breaks, and it saves money too!)
  • Bring high-protein snacks to work with you for mid-day pick-me-ups.
  • Keep a water bottle close by and drink it throughout the day to maintain proper hydration.
  • Work out while you’re at work. If you have a desk job, get your body moving periodically. Take a walk around the building. Do a couple flights of stairs. Perform a few stretches, squats or other quick exercises you can do at your desk to increase your heart rate and work your muscles. Keep that blood pumping!
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