Liz Meehan is a busy woman.
By day, she handles National Clinical Outreach for Summit BHC in the Metro Atlanta area—meeting with doctors, nurses, and clinicians to educate them about the addiction treatment programs at Summit. By night, she’s a full-time student in the Collegiate Recovery Program at Kennesaw State University studying medical sociology.
What makes Liz’s accomplishments even more impressive is that she recently celebrated her third year sober and in recovery. After struggling with alcoholism, an addiction to stimulant medication, and an eating disorder, Liz is now working to connect others with the treatment resources that helped her turn her life around.
She is grateful for the many ways her life has changed since seeking treatment but says regaining the trust of the people closest to her has been the biggest blessing. “It sounds so simple, but trust is so profound,” she said. “You do not realize how important it is until it is gone. I have meaningful friendships today inside and outside of recovery. I am independent and take ownership of my life and actions. I truly feel good about the woman I am today.”
Recently, Liz generously offered some tips to help those in recovery learn to better manage their time.
1. Get a Planner
Keeping track of recovery-related appointments as well as work, school, and family obligations can be tricky. Liz recommends investing in a good planner to help keep you organized. “I am old school, I like a written planner I can lay out in front of me and see my whole week,” she said. “I am fortunate to have a job that provides some flexibility; I can start my work days early to attend class later that evening, however the majority of my classes are online. As soon as I have class schedules, they go into my planner along with all the semester due dates for homework, essays, and exams. I usually pick 2 or 3 days out of my week that I work on assignments. I make sure to schedule time with my sponsor and sponsees on days I am not in class. I attend meetings to keep my priorities straight. Scheduling is key. ”
2. Take It One Step at a Time
It’s common for people in recovery to struggle with how to handle large projects and long-term goals. If you’re feeling like a task is impossible, Liz urges you to take a deep breath and take it one step at time. “Early on in recovery and still sometimes today, I can get so caught up in the stress, the to-do list, and the big picture,” she said. “Instead of looking at how overwhelming it all appears or thinking how am I going to get all of this done, I just take the next right step. Mountain of homework? Start with one assignment. Once that is finished, go to the next.”
3. Don’t Neglect Stress-Relieving Hobbies
A busy schedule can often seem overwhelming, which is why it’s vital that you find a way to cope with stress. For Liz, running and working out are the best ways to cope with personal and professional stress. “At the end of a long day nothing makes me feel better than moving,” she said. “I love hiking with my dog on the weekend just to change pace, slow down, and enjoy the view.”
4. Make Time for Friends and Family
Maintaining strong social connections is important to those in recovery because it helps prevent the risk of relapse. When you’re surrounded by people who provide love and support, you’ll feel more confident in your ability to handle challenging situations. Despite her busy schedule, Liz always makes sure she has time to socialize. “My family and friends mean the world to me,” she said. “I spend time with them on the weekends, even if it’s just for coffee or a quick bite to eat. Multitasking is even better, I will go hike with my mom, sister, and our dogs. We always joke hikes are our therapy sessions.”
5. Remember Recovery Is a Journey of Body, Mind, and Spirit
Taking a holistic approach to recovery means focusing on making healthy lifestyle choices every day. Liz has found that setting healthy routines for herself boosts her energy so she can complete everything on her to-do list. “I have found in my recovery that I have to take care of myself mind, body, and spirit,” she said. “When one is off, it shows. I make sure to grocery shop and meal prep for a crazy week on Sundays. I am currently doing CrossFit. Having to sign up for classes ahead of time holds me accountable. Sleep is the icing on the cake. I try to go to bed the same time every night during the week.”
6. Always Put Your Sobriety First
Multitasking does wonders when you’re busy, as does delegating and outsourcing some of the less important tasks on your to-do list. However, you simply can’t cut corners when it comes to your sobriety. “At the end of the day, my sobriety has to come first,” Liz said. “Without it, I cannot keep all the blessings that have come into my life. It is my foundation.”