Addiction Recovery - Alumni - Sobriety

Work In Recovery: How Your Mindset Matters

Work In Recovery: How Your Mindset Matters

Changing how you think about work in recovery means shifting your perspective about work and what it means to you. Work to live, don't live to work.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Addiction Recovery



February 11, 2022

Changing the way you think about work can help you in recovery. When you were a child, did you wake up during holidays and summer vacation anticipating the day? The lack of a schedule that determined where, when, and what you would be doing was fun.

Now, you wake up and know you have to go to work, maybe with a sense of dread. Not liking your job affects your emotional health. The good news is, if you sought help for a substance use disorder (SUD), you likely gained the coping skills necessary to guide you through your work and personal life. 

Change Your Perspective

To change how you think about work, you need to change how you see work. Thinking differently is one way to reshape your feelings about work.

How do you do this? First, look at the familiar from a different angle. When you review objects, tasks, or people in your life, practice viewing them in a way most people wouldn't. Viktor Shklovsky, a literary critic, noted that Leo Tolstoy increased the effect of his stories when he portrayed things from an alternative angle. You can do the same thing. Instead of looking at a task as mundane or routine, envision how you can create a better or more enjoyable way to do it. You can also motivate yourself to remain engaged in your work in that shift. 

Shifting your perspective helps you in your recovery. After a while, you may become disengaged in things like support group meetings. Becoming complacent in this space or sighing as you think of it as just something you have to do puts you in danger of relapse. Instead of thinking of these meetings as simply a place to sit and talk, shift your perspective and envision them as a way to absorb the process and make it your own. Recovery is about finding ways to maintain your engagement in healthy routines, including switching up those routines when they become mundane.

Set Your Intention

Setting an intention is a form of growth. Intentions help align your mindset with your goals and core values. When you wake up, set an intention for the day. Your purpose for the day can focus on one thing. If, for example, before you entered substance addiction treatment, you isolated yourself from others, make an effort to talk to a coworker or fellow student once a day. 

Separate Work From Life

Keeping your personal life separate from your work life is vital to your overall health. Setting a boundary between the two establishes the practice of mindfulness. Unfortunately, Western cultures often emphasize work over personal life. Cell phones and messaging apps can erase the line between the two since you're able to access work-related things at home. The expectation of being accessible, regardless of the time or day, can damage your connections with others.

How can you spend quality time with your loved ones or yourself if you don't draw a line? Set work boundaries and use the skills you learned in substance addiction treatment to be mindful of how you allocate your time and energy.

Everyday Mindfulness

Adjust your work mindset to remember that your job is simply the way you provide for yourself or your family. It is not who you are, and it is not the most important thing in your life. To hold yourself to this mindset, use your work breaks as actual breaks: Don't work through them, don't do a household task, just take a break. 

One thing to do during work breaks that will help you relax and get centered is to practice mindfulness. There are several ways you can integrate mindfulness into your daily routine, in and out of the office. For example, take a walk outside, do a quick yoga session, or stretch. Physical activity can decrease pain and stress.

Mindfulness has many benefits, including:

  • Increasing your concentration. Being mindful of what you're doing focuses your mind on the task at hand. The notifications from your phone or email will become unimportant.

  • Reducing stress. Being present in the moment guides you to react calmly in a given situation. Mindfulness helps you pause for a moment, assess the situation, refocus, then respond with a creative or logical solution.

  • Developing your creativity. When you focus on the present, you remove the distraction of the past and the future. As a result, your mind has the freedom to wander and think. This can bring out your creativity as you let loose your mind to imagine outside of its usual confines.

  • Leaving unhealthy emotions behind. As you leave work, take a moment to physically and mentally close the door. Don't take other people's thoughts or feelings with you. While in treatment, you worked on taking care of yourself, so let mindfulness re-focus you on what matters, and leave the rest behind.

Working In Recovery Requires You To Think Differently About Work

Take the ordinary and make it unfamiliar. Ask yourself how you can change your perspective to reflect your core values and goals. Practice mindfulness by focusing on the present to shift the way you think about how your work and personal life interact.

The Edge Treatment Center focuses on helping others learn to live a life full of meaning. As you participate in group and individual sessions, you will learn to create boundaries and be mindful of your needs. The Edge welcomes clients with several months of recovery behind them.

Our staff is here to answer your questions. Call (800) 778-1772.

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