Cultivating and maintaining a daily routine in recovery is crucial to staying on track. This is why treatment programs such as rehab have a structured routine. Many programs include schedules such as: waking up early, eating breakfast, exercising or meditating, attending counseling or support groups, and more.
Once you leave treatment, it can be hard to maintain this routine. This is especially true in the early stages of recovery due to the lack of motivation most people feel, cravings, and low-self esteem. This is why sober living homes are recommended after rehabilitation. Having a daily routine in place can keep you on track and in the right mindset for recovery.
Developing A Daily Routine
In order to develop a daily routine, you must be actively planning and carrying it out. This takes hard work and diligence but is worth it, if you want to maintain sobriety in the long run. Your daily routine should include sober activities such as:
- Waking up at the same time every day, including weekends
- Exercising daily
- Planning and cooking healthy meals
- Setting aside time for self-care
- Going to meetings or support groups for sobriety
- Setting aside time for mindfulness activities (i.e. meditations, etc.)
- Having a personal hygiene routine
- Having a chore schedule that helps keep your home clean
- Going to work or school
- Learning new hobbies, skills, etc.
- Keeping a daily journal (for sleep, gratitude, etc.)
- Having a childcare routine in place (if applicable)
Benefits Of Having A Daily Schedule In Recovery
Sense Of Purpose
A routine fills your free time by keeping you busy. There is no time for boredom, and completing tasks will give you a sense of purpose. Having a sense of purpose each day can help reduce the risk of relapse.
Ability To Cope With Stress
A common trigger for relapse while recovering from addiction is stress. A daily routine can alleviate feelings of stress when something unexpected happens. This is because the structure of a routine helps you maintain a level head. If something unexpected does happen, you will be able to cope with it without skipping a beat.
Sticking to a routine allows you to see the progress you are making in recovery. The more progress you see yourself making, the more confidence and motivation you’ll have to stay sober. A routine also promotes self-love by taking care of your physical, mental, and psychological needs.
Improved Brain Function
Harvard Medical School has conducted studies on the impact of a structured daily routine on the brain. A structured routine with exercise was found to reduce anxiety, depression, stress, and cognitive impairment. Results also showed that sleep, memory, and mood can improve with a consistent routine.
Reduced Risk Of Relapse
As stated before, a routine fills your free time, leaving less time for boredom and self-isolation. It can also help reduce stress and symptoms of depression. The positive activities and behaviors you partake in can reduce your chances of relapse dramatically. You will be more level headed, which can help you avoid cravings and temptations.
How To Develop A Daily Routine In Recovery
It should be noted that every person is different, thus every schedule will be different. The goal is to find a healthy daily routine full of sober activities that work for you and your recovery needs and goals. Here are some general things that should be included in your routine to help you stay on track.
Depression and relapse can be caused by nutritional deficiencies. Healthy foods reverse these by giving your body the necessary energy and motivation to stay committed to recovery. These foods, when combined with exercise, can also help you maintain a healthy weight. Overall, this will increase your self-esteem and make you feel better.
Doing an exercise routine every day when eating a healthy diet is vital to your recovery. This is because exercise releases endorphins, which can help you stay motivated, reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, lower stress, give you more energy, and boost your self-confidence. Exercise can take the forms of running, swimming, yoga, strength training, or any number of physical activities. Make sure you find an exercise you enjoy doing so it does not feel like a chore every day.
Lack of proper sleep can cause a multitude of physical and mental health problems, including high blood pressure, kidney disease, anxiety, depression, strokes, diabetes, and more. Getting the necessary amount of sleep gives you the motivation and energy you need to maintain your daily routine. According to a study at Penn State, those recovering from opiate addiction that got enough sleep had fewer cravings.
Make sure you go to bed at the same time every night, leaving enough time for showering, brushing teeth, and other pre-bed activities. Set an alarm for getting into bed and waking up to keep you on track.
Finding a sober hobby or activity that you can participate in weekly can lessen your boredom and help you make new sober friends. This will help fill the void in your life left by addiction and reduce your risk of relapse. It can also help you feel “normal” again.
Studies have shown that people with a structured daily routine have less stress, sleep better, eat better, are in better physical shape, and use their time more effectively. This is important in recovery to help you maintain sobriety and stay motivated in your recovery. If you have trouble adjusting to a daily routine after rehab, consider living in a sober living home. NorthStar Transitions offers a sober living program that can help you transition from treatment to everyday life. Contact them today at (303) 558-6400 to learn more.