Finding Ways to Engage in Your Community
Any time spent actively recovering from substance use or mental health disorders is a win. After building a routine, and consistently engaging with the work necessary to maintain your recovery, it isn't uncommon to experience a certain level of restlessness. The preventive measures you take can begin to feel less exciting and more like a chore.
Of course, it is unrealistic to believe anyone could tackle their typical day with vigor each time but getting complacent can be a dangerous place for people in recovery.
Working in your community can combat the days that feel like you're just going through the motions. Lending a hand to people in need elevates your self-esteem by adding value to your time.
Where to Start
Volunteer opportunities are abundant, even if you have to dig a little to find them in your area. Taking on extra work can be intimidating, especially if you already have a lot on your plate. You may find that you need to readjust your schedule a bit to make space for community outreach or limit it to some number of times in a week or month. Determine your level of availability first since you'll want to build trust and reliability between yourself and those you help.
After establishing a schedule, note any special skills or licenses you have acquired. Reviewing what you have already achieved can help focus your search on your passions and interests. If you are looking to build your professional or academic resume, diving into services that compliment your existing skillset can gain you substantial attention from prospective employers.
Volunteering Where Your Passions Lie
It can be hard to determine how you can help or what you are passionate about. Should you find yourself struggling to uncover what you can bring to the table, look at your experience with recovery itself. The amount of work you have put into building a new life is an incredible accomplishment filled with innumerable lessons learned. You are equipped to share with others who need encouragement from someone like you, someone who made it through. The following ideas can put you in a position to encourage others and give life to your days.
1. Volunteer at a safe house: A safe house is a protected environment for people and children that have escaped domestic violence and other forms of abuse. This line of service can be triggering for some, primarily if you haven't fully addressed your trauma with a professional, so it is imperative that you feel supported and stable before engaging with this demographic. If you are comfortable, you can utilize your experiences to help someone currently living what you have already worked through.
3. Share your story virtually: Sometimes, when you hear "community," you think of the surrounding areas near your home. It is easy to forget that community doesn't have a set meaning; it can be represented in many ways, from a physical neighborhood to niche pockets created on the internet. Virtual communities exist in social media, blogs, and forums. You can utilize web space to serve others through self-expression using whatever medium you choose. If you love writing, you may find that blogging your experience can help those in need. Uploading the pictures which capture your current state could be cathartic for both you and the person viewing it. You might be surprised at the impact that authentically and bravely sharing your story online can have on you and the people who encounter it.
2. Volunteer at a plant nursery or botanic garden: Maybe you wouldn't say that you have a green thumb, but you do like to be outside. Reaching out to a plant nursery or botanic garden is a fun and easy way to engage with your community and help provide people with a way to relieve stress without too much interaction with people if talking isn't your thing. Spending time outside releases endorphins that can build a better frame of mind, which will help you feel more engaged with the present, something that many recovering people have trouble with.
4. Volunteer as an alumnus: If you have graduated from a drug rehab, you can speak to the program director about helping out new clients. You may discover that you feel your best when you share your experiences as a client, answering questions about life after treatment and any hardships you faced while getting the support you needed. People still struggling can be inspired by those who have made it to the other side.
Once you have a firm understanding of your scheduling needs and have established the line of work you will participate in on behalf of your community, browse the internet or connect with others to see what is out there. Even if you have yet to settle on an idea, looking through opportunities can spark interests you might not have known you had. There is no need to rush this process — make sure you don't take on too much. Ensuring that your needs are also being met is a positive way to keep good boundaries that honor your time and energy.
Boredom Is Normal
It is normal to get bored with your aftercare routines, especially if you have been on this path for a year or more. Finding ways to revitalize your progress doesn't have to be a tiresome experience that leads to more frustration.
At The Edge Treatment Center, we believe in building our clients up in a way that can combat the feelings that can surface after some time. Our alumni program can help you find renewed inspiration in your recovery journey, getting you comfortable with creating lasting bonds within your life and community as a whole. For more information, call us at (800) 778-1772.