By Sandy Baker
In early recovery, when you are just gaining the confidence to get back into your life, it’s important to focus on tools that help you to stay sober. Routines, whether simple or complex, can be one of these tools.
Transitioning from Treatment to Home
If you attended our drug and alcohol treatment center in Lubbock, TX, or participated in our transitional living program, you’ll remember that treatment can offer a sense of simplicity. You work hard, but you follow a predetermined schedule each day to help you focus on your recovery. It feels “easy” to go from one thing to the next, knowing what’s coming..
When you leave treatment, that safety net isn’t there. Your job may give your days some sense of routine, but it’s up to you to fill the rest of your day with activities that will support your sobriety. A routine does not have to feel restrictive or like drudgery. Instead, a routine can help you feel even more freedom; it builds in time for effort and focus as well as for relaxation. Routine helps protect you from boredom and loneliness, two powerful triggers for relapse.
Routines: What Should Go Into Yours?
Your routine will be built around your schedule and interests. Before you leave our treatment program, our team will work closely with you to ensure you have a plan. You might start by listing all of the things you want to accomplish daily, such as:
- Making time for physical exercise
- Setting a consistent time to get up and go to sleep each day
- Creating a meal plan for the day
- Meeting basic care needs
- Creating a list of tasks to do around the home to maintain a clean space
- Going to school or work
You will probably want to include recovery-specific tasks, such as:
- Building new relationships
- Meeting with your drug and alcohol treatment counselor
- Attending recovery meetings
- Interacting with family and friends who are sober
Do You Really Need a Written Plan?
The quick answer here is yes. Having a written plan for each day will help motivate you to follow it. During the first few months of recovery, you’ll be learning how to manage the stressors in your life without relying on drugs or alcohol. Self-care activities like writing down a daily plan will help to ground you and ease your stress. Following a daily plan will give you confidence and build your self-esteem. It feels good to check items off the list and to know that you can handle challenges.
There are many more benefits of having a routine in recovery.
- It helps you learn how to better manage your time. Routines also give you some sense of how much time you should dedicate to activities.
- It helps in developing a sense of purpose. You know what you have to do – go to work, provide mentorship, meet school obligations, and so on.
- It can reduce your chance of relapsing.
Tips for Developing Daily Routines
How can your routine be catered to your goals and interests? Consider these tips.
- Add Something Enjoyable to Each Day
Think about what’s most important to you. While many of the things on your to-do list will help you accomplish goals, chores, and tasks, include time for something you love to do. Even simple things like going for a walk, snuggling with your 4-year-old, or chatting with a neighbor can add ease and enjoyment to your daily routine.
- Include Time for Self-Care
Maybe your self-care looks like joining a yoga class or taking an online course in a subject that interests you. Maybe it means taking a bubble bath or working on a hobby. Include in your routine something that you can look forward to each day.
- Work with Others
Early recovery is often about doing things yourself. That’s important – you need to develop a sense of self-efficacy. At the same time, you should learn to work with others you are living with. Sharing responsibilities for tasks around the home is one option. You may also need to compromise your own routine sometimes for the benefit of the household.
Drug and alcohol treatment can empower you to be the very best person you can be. Part of being in recovery–and being human–is learning how to find balance: between self and others, work and play, effort and ease, routine and freedom. Don’t let your routine become so rigid that it keeps you from joy. Make it work for you.