You’re home from rehab and living your new life. You have a fair amount of free time right now. So you sit around thinking, which turns into worrying. Before you know it, your mind is running, anxiety is building and you can’t seem to make it stop.
This is called—very unscientifically—getting stuck in your own head. And it can make anyone miserable.
In fact, a team of Harvard psychologists took a look at the issue in 2010. They devised an iPhone app that let them check in on 2,500 volunteers at random intervals throughout the day and assess their happiness levels.
Here’s what they found: 46.9 percent of study participants’ waking hours were spent thinking about something other than what they were doing. “A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind,” researchers wrote in their summary.
So, while it’s definitely good to be aware of your feelings, sitting around thinking all the time can sabotage happiness.
How Volunteering is Important
There are several good ways to get out of your own head. Exercise, spending time with a pet, meditating or praying are a few. But one of the very best ways to take the focus off of yourself is to focus on someone else.
A study at the University of Exeter Medical School found that people who volunteered were less depressed and had greater well-being and life satisfaction than people who didn’t.
(This is, by the way, a core message of most religions. The path to happiness is serving others. But it’s always nice to see science validate popular thought.)
So how do you get started? It could be something as simple as cutting the grass for an elderly neighbor. You could volunteer to be the person who arrives at 12-step meetings early and starts the coffee. Offer to take your grandmother to the grocery store.
Or you can volunteer your time for an organization. If you don’t know how you’d like to serve, ask friends and family for ideas and look into different options online. Think about causes and issues that matter to you. Do you want to find volunteer work that draws on your talents and strengths? Or are you just looking to keep busy serving food, cleaning or doing other physical tasks?
Remember that you may have to put a little bit of effort into finding the right fit for you. But once you do, volunteering can become a new source of happiness and a way to meet friends. The health benefits of volunteering are also impressive. Many studies have suggested that people who give of their time actually live longer.
The Raleigh House
You don’t start thinking about preventing a relapse after you leave rehab. At The Raleigh House, you begin laying the foundation to manage your addiction from the moment you walk through our doors. Located in Denver, we offer 90-day treatment programs that address every facet of recovery, including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about our cocaine treatment program.