During addiction treatment, you will experience a volume of thoughts and feelings following the experience of getting back a clear mind. One of the best gifts in sobriety is gaining clarity. With a clear mind, you are now able to think and feel clearly, which will provide you with the opportunity to make positive changes.
Racing thoughts can hinder productivity, especially in an addiction treatment program. Addiction treatment will provoke many thoughts and feelings, which is why it’s important to recognize these thoughts and feelings to be able to move forward. Our brain is an amazing organ, it is basically our version of a computer— so is your mind cluttered with a thousand icons on one desktop, or is it neat and organized? Which would you prefer? It’s much easier to get work done in a clean and organized space, so our brains should be no different. A build-up of files, or thoughts, will work against you in your journey of recovery.
Thoughts can be overwhelming, as many people experience a large volume of thoughts flooding in rapidly. Sometimes, you may even experience ruminating thought patterns— or having the same thought, or string of thoughts, over and over again. No matter what thoughts you have, each are telling you something— whether it be conscious or unconscious information. It’s important to take that information and organize your thoughts, to have a clear understanding of the situation before you.
In a study conducted by the National Institute on Aging, findings included that a disorganized mind has legitimate negative health effects— both mental and physical; “A disorganized mind leads to high stress, chronic negativity, and impulsivity. These states stifle productivity and contribute to a slew of health problems, including weight gain, heart disease, sleep problems, and migraine headaches” (Bradberry).
Here are some of the ways we find to be most helpful for organizing your thoughts while you’re in addiction recovery:
- Write them down
- Set a regimen
- Make lists
- Set aside times for negativity
- Rapid fire sticky-noting
- Table of contents
- Challenge ruminating thoughts
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Talk to someone
Journaling is a very therapeutic process. Write down your thoughts (and feelings) when they come, so that you are able to release these thoughts and reflect back on them later. This will help you gain insight about what thoughts are persistent, when you are thinking certain thoughts, and establishing patterns of thought.
Make a routine out of sitting with your thoughts. Choose three times per day where you have time set aside to sit with your thoughts and organize them. We suggest sitting down after your morning routine, in the middle of the day, and at night before you go to sleep. Set the intention these three times per day, to sit with and listen to your thoughts.
If you constantly obsess over your next move, or your goals, or whatever it may be— sit down and make a list to release any planning-oriented thoughts. Goal-setting is an important part of addiction treatment and recovery. You should also make to-do lists daily to keep your day structured. Having points to check off will also keep you motivated to complete tasks.
If you feel like you have an influx of negative thoughts, or are constantly worrying, set aside five or ten minutes each day to engage with any negative or worrisome thoughts you may have. Setting aside these thoughts will allow you to have this time, and then continue to be productive the rest of the day. Try to set aside this time for negativity towards the end of the day, that way you’re not engaging in anxiety, fear, worry, etc. before you get your day started or in the middle of the day— because it will put a damper on your positivity.
Meditating will allow you to clear your mind, and naturally organizes your thoughts. Building meditation into a daily routine will have lasting benefits for your mental, physical and spiritual health also.
This sounds ridiculous, but is actually really simple and helpful. If you feel especially overwhelmed with thoughts, take ten minutes to jot each thought down on a sticky note, and then stick it on a space in front of you. Repeat this process until you have cleared away all of your racing thoughts, then look at all of the thoughts in front of you and organize them based upon what they’re about. If they have a common theme, or are based around one thing in particular, group them together. At the end of this exercise, you can see the main subject of your thoughts, and get a better understanding of what is invading your mind in the present moment.
Write your thoughts down in a table of contents style, what comes first? Who or what is it dedicated to? What is each chapter titled? What is the end of the book about? (Isip).
Exercising has a way of clearing your mind, and keeping your mind clear once you finish. This is a physical way to organize your thoughts. The physical activity allows your mind to put away your smaller thoughts after exercising, leaving residual effects of clarity.
Instead of letting the same intrusive thoughts persistently make their way into your conscious, try challenging a ruminating thought pattern. Ask yourself what are the facts (if any) involved with this thought pattern? What are the possible outcomes if this thought is true or false? What emotion is underlying this thought? Is this thought emotional or rational?
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on changing the way you think about things, therefore changing the way things can effect you and your response to them. This behavioral therapy is offered at Royal Life Centers and is especially helpful for those with co-occuring disorders like anxiety and depression. We use both cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy in the treatment process for alcohol and substance use disorders.
Besides just talking to your therapist, try reaching out to someone in your sober support network, or someone at a meeting from a 12-step program of recovery. Talking to someone can release some of those racing thoughts you have, and you’ll find yourself feeling a sense of release and relief through the conversation. Not only can these people offer advice, but they can ask questions that will help you better understand and organize the thoughts you’re having.
Disorganization in the mind usually is brought on by anxiety and stress. To slip into a more peaceful state of mind, practice de-stressing activities like self-care activities, including: taking a bath or shower, doing a face mask, giving yourself a scalp massage, putting on body lotion, etc. Allowing yourself to de-stress can greatly improve your ability to organize your thoughts.
Long Term Benefits
Practicing these methods of organization will lead to long term benefits, like a clear mind, inner-peace, manageability, and more. Don’t forget to check in with yourself often. Ask yourself how you feel, why you think you feel that way, what actions you’re taking to mitigate or intensify those feelings, what behaviors are you engaging in that show the way you feel, etc. A treatment center is the perfect setting to explore overall health, especially when it comes to practicing ways that stabilize and strengthen your mental health.
At Royal Life Centers, we provide treatment options that are designed to follow guests through the stages of the recovery process— offering guidance and support each step of the way. Our treatment programs include both inpatient and outpatient treatment options. Our medical detoxification program offers medically-assisted detox on a case by case basis. Our rehab centers prepare guests with the skills and tools they need to rebuild a happy, healthy, meaningful and drug free life.
Royal Life Centers offers a variety of treatment programs, including: medical detox, a residential inpatient program, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), an intensive outpatient program (IOP), an outpatient program (OP), sober living and graduate housing. We also provide alumni services, as well as services for family members. We focus on treating alcohol and drug abuse with a range of intensive therapies and other proven effective methods of addiction treatment. Our programming puts a focus on overall health, teaching skills and tools to navigate sobriety, and how to prevent relapse, to name a few things. If you are seeking treatment for yourself or a loved one, please reach out to us.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, please call our addiction specialists at (877)-RECOVERY or (877)-732-6837. Our team of addiction specialists make themselves available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because We Care.
Bradberry, Travis. “5 Ways to Organize Your Mind for Maximum Productivity.” World Economic Forum, World Economic Forum, 3 Nov. 2015, www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/11/5-ways-to-organize-your-mind-for-maximum-productivity/
Isip, Rashelle. Theorderexpert.com, Rachelle Isip, www.theorderexpert.com/17-ways-to-organize-your-thoughts/