You may have seen the quote we are about to share a couple of different ways and attributed to a couple of different people. “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time,” said the mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell (or drop the first “The” and maybe author Marthe Troly-Curtin wrote it).
“If you enjoyed the time you wasted, then it wasn’t wasted time,” said the musician John Lennon (who was, himself, fairly philosophical).
You could probably waste a fair amount of time trying to track down the true origin of the quote (and hey, you might even enjoy doing so), but for our purposes here, it does not matter exactly who said exactly what.
What is important is the concept: Time you enjoy “wasting” is not, in fact, wasted at all.
This principle is equally applicable to those who are in recovery from a substance use disorder and those who are struggling with a mental health disorder. And it is arguably doubly applicable if you are a person dealing with co-occurring disorders.
Let’s take the time to take a closer look at the concept.
The Value of Time You Spend Your Way is Immeasurable
It perhaps goes without saying that most of us are horribly overscheduled. We cram so much into each day—getting up early to workout, heading to the office or school for a full (or more than full day) of activities and obligations, filling our evenings with anything from household chores to volunteer work to simply vegging out with our screens—that it seems impossible to find a moment for ourselves.
And if we do manage to carve out a little bit of time, we often squander it by obsessing about all the things we are not doing while we are “wasting time.”
But here’s the thing: an engaging hobby, a regular get together with friends, an afternoon watching (or playing) sports, a visit to a museum, a concert by local musicians or a favorite touring band—any and all of these things can support both your sobriety and your mental health.
How? Actually, in a number of ways:
- Lessening the likelihood of burnout
- Fending off feelings of boredom
- Providing opportunities to build friendships around shared interests
- Supplying a break from day-to-day stressors
Two Enemies of Personal Time
If holding some time apart for yourself has so many benefits, why do so many of us fail to do it?
There are, no doubt, any number of answers to that question, but we’ll focus on two: the so-called “cult of busyness” and the unfortunate habit of what might be called “yucking our own yum.”
The cult of busyness is built around the idea that being busy is somehow a status symbol. If you are busy all of the time, you must be important, right? At least that is how the thinking goes. And since most of us would like to be perceived as important to one degree or another, a lot of us join the busyness cult in the hope that others will notice and admire us. Of course, most people are too busy to notice how busy we are.
Meanwhile, many people feel some degree of embarrassment about the things they enjoy. An adult who likes to read comic books, for example, might feel like their hobby is too childish. Or an afternoon spent hiking might feel self-indulgent. Even scheduling a regular cup of coffee with a friend can seem like a waste of time and money. If you have those sorts of feelings around something that you really enjoy, you have been yucking your yum—finding reasons to feel bad about something you should actually feel good about.
Our advice? Leave the cult of busyness to others and lean into the activities that you find yummy. Doing so will give you access to all the mental health and recovery advantages of taking time for yourself.
Getting Treatment is an Excellent Use of Your Time
For a person struggling with drugs or alcohol, the time to get help is always right now. At The Aviary Recovery Center near St. Louis, Missouri, we can help you regain (and maintain) your sobriety while also treating co-occurring mental health disorders. We are wholly committed to individualized treatment plans that address your specific needs.
Again, the time to get help is now. Doing so means you will have more time to enjoy the benefits of sobriety.