There are many ways to get out of the box – whether it's a vacation, a day trip, a night on the town, a change of scenery, a new habit or routine or even a trip to a residential treatment center.
These shifts and changes can be very beneficial, but there is an extra challenge – coming back. When someone has been in treatment (or even at group therapy) and they are going back home, we call it "re-entry." But there are elements of re-entry even after a short outing.
For example, as I was returning from a fun birthday celebration with my girlfriends, I noticed that my thoughts quickly turned to the pile of laundry and other responsibilities that were waiting. The lightness and relaxation faded away and it was almost as if I'd never gone.
If you can relate, here are some tips for preparing your re-entry after you've taken a trip outside the box.
- Be in the moment. You've heard the popular saying about what happens in Vegas – well, what you left at home should also stay at home. There's not much you can do about it until you're there, and thinking about it now will only keep you from experiencing the full benefits of where you are.
- Bring back a giving heart. Remember that regular life has been going on for the people you left behind. What can you share with them – in a positive way? Be careful not to gloat, brag or use special "lingo" (unless you explain what it means).
- Let yourself be. There is no right way to return. You may feel sad to be home. You may feel scared about what's next. You may feel immense gratitude for the special experience you've had. You may feel disconnected from your life and the people around you. Have compassion for yourself and be open to any or all of these feelings.
- Hang on to something. Find a memento of the time, no matter how small or simple. You may also want to stay in touch with people who went through the experience with you, so you can support each other through re-entry. Most of all, hang onto any good feelings you found.
January is a wonderful time for exploring new things and making plans for how you will continue to grow throughout the year. Just remember that every time you venture outside the box, it is wise to plan for how you will come back in!