Police and Coping With Stress

How First Responders Can Make The Most of Their Days Off During Recovery

Published on November 11, 2020 by First Responder Wellness

Making the most of your days off as a first responder in recovery from addiction is an important skill to master. It can provide you with valuable time you can use for self-care. Your job likely demands you to tirelessly give of yourself in the form of service and protection. Along with other job stressors, this can be exhausting if you do not give back to yourself every once in a while. 

Once you’re in recovery, it is crucial to find healthy and productive ways to spend your days off from work so that you can continue managing your stress, cravings, and triggers. If you have a lot of free time on your days off that you spend doing nothing, it is easy for the mind to wander and possibly look to fill that space with the harmful quick fixes you may have used to alleviate stress in the past. In recovery, now is the time to regain control of your life by establishing goals, setting boundaries, creating healthy habits, and managing your time wisely. There are many fun and productive ways in which you can make the most of your days off from work during recovery. Here are four of them:     


Connecting With a Support Group


While in treatment, you likely had a strong support group of people who were also recovering or had gone through similar experiences as you. Once you went back home and returned to work, you may no longer have had that same continuous network of people. You are likely still faced with situations that cause stress, trauma, or temptations. However, the difference is that now you are armed with the right tools to cope with them. 

Now that you are back into your daily routine, it does not mean you can’t still have a group of people supporting you. These are the people you can turn to for guidance and encouragement when you need it the most. They can help you get through challenging moments when you may be experiencing a craving to use again. If you are looking for additional continued support outside of friends and family, finding the right self-help group, mutual support group, or staying in contact and checking in with those you may have befriended in treatment is a great place to start. On your days off, reach out, catch up, and connect with these people. 

In addition to seeking support groups, spending time with the family and friends you love and care about is a healthy way to make the most out of your days off. This may be a chance for you to strengthen your existing relationships and possibly mend any under strain. 


Giving Back


As a first responder, you are likely a person who naturally loves giving to others and helping those in need. Though you find yourself giving to your community already through your profession, you may also find it rewarding to give back and offer support to other first responders in treatment. They could very likely gain a lot of insight from someone who went through a similar experience as them. This may also help remind you of why you decided to get sober in the first place. Ways you can do this on your days off are by volunteering with a treatment organization, acting as a sponsor in a support group, or just being there for those who need help in their journey to recovery. 


Discovering New Hobbies


Finding the right balance between structure and variety on your days off can be beneficial during recovery. Continually trying new things may help prevent you from becoming bored with the same old things. This may also be an opportunity for you to find a new healthy way to experience something thrilling and exciting. It can lead to you learning a new skill or discovering something you never knew you liked. Depending on your interests, here are some new hobbies and activities you might find enjoyable to try on your days off. This could range from gardening to rock climbing, learning new recipes in the kitchen or on the grill, and learning to play an instrument. There are endless possibilities, but here are some you can consider giving a try:

– Photography

– Rock Climbing

– Biking

– Yoga

– Writing

– Swimming

– Surfing

– Gardening

– Painting

– Trying a new sport

– Meditation

– Singing or dancing

– Reading

– Hiking


Exercise, Sleep and Eat Well  


Your days off as a first responder are usually great for catching up on some much-needed rest. Getting enough sleep on your days off can also give you the energy you need to be productive. With enough energy, you can also have time to exercise and eat well. It can be tempting to spend your days off sitting on the couch, not doing much. While this can be okay sometimes, making a habit of it can decrease your physical fitness and eventually make you feel more tired. Making time for movement is just as crucial as getting rest on your days off. Where you find that balance is up to you. 

There is only so much one person can give before they run dry. Running on empty lessens your ability to continue giving to others and helping the community through your profession. While in recovery, finding healthy ways to fill yourself back up on your days off is crucial to your health and well-being. Sometimes, this can be easier said than done. If you or a loved one is finding it difficult to manage leisure time wisely, reach out to us at First Responder Wellness. We offer a variety of program options for those who may need continued support or who are getting back on track after a relapse or mental health slip. If you are back at home and work after treatment and are looking for more options, our online intensive outpatient program (IOP) that connects individuals to their wellness team remotely may be for you. Call us at (888) 743-0490.