How to Develop a Healthy Daily Routine in Recovery
While enroled in a drug and alcohol rehab, you probably became accustomed to waking up early, having breakfast, meditating and attending daily support groups. These things all became a part of your routine. Now that you’re out of rehab and living life on your own again, it can be a challenge to maintain that routine without the accountability provided by your peers and counselors.
Enroling in a sober living programme can help you maintain a healthy routine that will aid in lifelong recovery. Here are some of the main benefits of having a daily routine in recovery and how accountability in a sober living home can help.
The Challenges of Developing a Sober Lifestyle
Maintaining your recovery daily after rehab isn’t always going to be easy, especially in early sobriety. There will be times when you feel like giving up, when your cravings are especially strong, or when you convince yourself that you’re a failure. Therefore, it’s so important to have a recovery support system in place and a structured routine that will keep your mindset in the right place and improve your physical and mental health. Taking healthy and intentional steps to develop a sober lifestyle will ensure that you always have the support you need, even when things get stressful, boring, or uncertain.
The act of practicing recovery daily typically involves several different aspects of life, so establishing a sober routine for yourself may include:
Consistently waking up at a certain time every morning.
Making time for daily exercise.
Planning and cooking healthy meals.
Regularly attending a sobriety support group and fellowshipping with other sober peers.
Taking time for self-care.
Establishing a chore schedule to keep your living space clean and organized.
Practicing a personal hygiene routine.
Going to school or work.
Developing a predictable childcare routine (if applicable).
Keeping a daily journal.
Learning new things/skills.
Setting each of these things in motion isn’t always easy and it will take a lot of effort, planning, and organisation on your part, but getting started is the hardest part. Eventually, these things will become daily habits and the structure of your day will become an essential part of your sobriety. Prioritising each of these things will support a lifestyle of recovery daily while you gradually assimilate back into society as a high-functioning sober individual.
Benefits of a Routine in Recovery
There are many benefits to having a daily routine in recovery, some of which you may have already discovered in rehab. If you’re wondering why you need to continue with a defined daily routine now that you’re done with rehab, here are some of the top benefits.
1. You maintain a sense of purpose in your everyday activities.
Creating a daily routine for yourself gives you a purpose, keeps you busy, and reduces the temptation to use drugs and alcohol again.
2. You are better equipped to deal with stress.
Stress is what causes many people to relapse. By maintaining a daily routine, you reduce the anxiety you feel due to unexpected events. This is because you take the time to develop structure in your life that prepares you for the unexpected.
3. You improve your self-esteem and self-efficacy.
As you learn to prioritize your health and emotional well-being in recovery, you’ll also learn to value yourself and love yourself for who you are.
4. You improve your brain function.
According to the Harvard Medical School, a routine that involves daily exercise can help reduce cognitive impairment, anxiety, and stress while improving memory, mood, and sleep.1
5. You reduce your overall chances of relapse.
By building and implementing a daily routine for yourself, you are safeguarding your recovery and preventing relapse with positive, life-changing behaviors and thoughts that will consistently fight cravings and help you find meaning in a substance-free life.
How to Develop a Routine for Yourself
There are several things you can start doing today to get into a healthy routine. While these are all valuable tips, it’s important to build a routine that works for you, as this will look different for every person in recovery. Here are a few simple ways you can get started.
First and foremost, you need to prioritize a healthy diet in recovery. While you probably focused on this during your inpatient rehab treatment, there was probably an on-site chef doing all the cooking. Now it’s up to you to cook your own meals and do the grocery shopping.
According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, nutritional deficiencies (especially that of some amino acids) can play a role in the onset, severity, and duration of depression. Other studies have shown that when supplements containing amino acids and other essential nutrients, symptoms of depression and mental illness decreased.2,3
As this research shows, creating a weekly meal plan for yourself and sticking to it can help you maintain a healthy weight while also combating mental illness and depression.
Regular exercise such as running, strength training or yoga can increase endorphins and improve overall well-being by reducing cravings, relieving stress, improving confidence and body image, and increasing energy. All these benefits work together to fight relapse and help you stay motivated to remain sober.4,5
If you haven’t had a regular exercise routine in the past, it can be helpful to find a workout buddy who is willing to go to the gym with you or complete workouts at home with you. This may help keep you motivated to stick to your fitness goals.
Sleep deficiency can contribute to several chronic health problems, including high blood pressure, kidney disease, depression, stroke and diabetes (among others). Getting enough sleep is essential to maintaining a high quality of life, as well as your physical, mental and emotional health.6 A study published by Penn State also found that when people in recovery from opiate addiction got adequate amounts of sleep, they experienced fewer cravings for opioids.7
One way to make sure you’re getting enough sleep is to set a regular bedtime and stick to it. If you have trouble getting into bed on time, try setting an alarm on your phone. If you typically shower before bed, make sure the alarm leaves you with plenty of time for you to shower, brush your teeth and get into bed by your desired bedtime.
To-do lists are a great tool to manage daily tasks and reduce overall stress. Every night before bed, try making a list of the things you need to do the next day. This can be done in an hourly schedule format or it can just be a simple bulleted list of things you want to achieve.
Try out a new hobby or learn a new skill. It’s important to have fun while in early recovery to reduce boredom and build your social circle. Many individuals feel a sense of loss or loneliness in early recovery because they are struggling to fill a void that they previously filled with alcohol or drugs. It will take some time to feel normal again, but it can be done, and a supportive group of peers can help.
The Correlation Between Daily Structure and Mental Health
Daily structure has a profound impact on mental health. People who establish daily patterns and routines are less stressed, get better sleep, eat healthier, are physically healthier, and use their time more effectively.8
Developing a structured routine will also help you better manage your time and plan for healthy choices in recovery. Even when you can’t plan for things, you’ll set yourself up to better handle changes and adjust as necessary. Physically, our minds and bodies also rely on routine and pattern to function at their best.
Having a daily routine in place will make life feel more manageable (even in times of stress) and will also help you maintain a sense of balance and order. This can boost your self-esteem and encourage you to take responsibility for your behaviors and actions. Although it does take time and effort to develop a new daily routine in early recovery, it’s worth the time.
Example of a Daily Schedule for Recovering Addicts
Although it’s very important to establish a daily routine for yourself in recovery, no single addiction recovery daily schedule will work for everyone. Most importantly, not everyone needs a full daily schedule to succeed in recovery. Your routine may look very different from some of your peers’ in recovery, but the most important thing is that it works for you.
If you’re having trouble establishing a daily routine for yourself, it can be helpful to have a guide. Here is an example of a daily schedule for recovering addicts. Just remember, do what works best for you and adjust as needed.
Example of a Daily Schedule for Recovering Addicts
7 a.m. – 7:30 a.m. – Wake up and get ready for the day 7:30 a.m. – Exercise routine 8 a.m. – Breakfast 8:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. – Chores 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Work, volunteer, school 12 p.m. – Lunch 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Work, volunteer, school 5 p.m. – Recovery meeting/fellowship/IOP/aftercare 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. – Dinner 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. – Rest/hobby/self-care 8:30 p.m. – Nightly meditation/yoga 9 p.m. – Shower and get ready for bed 9:30 p.m. – Bedtime routine and lights out
Don’t Give Up: Stay Motivated Through Drug Rehab and Sober Living
Devoting yourself to recovery daily may not always be a walk in the park, but there are several different ways you can stay motivated through drug rehab and sober living.
If you keep a daily journal, write yourself encouraging letters that you can look back on when you have a rough day.
Communicate with your sponsor and sober peers regularly and let them inspire you with their own progress.
Use an app to track your days of sobriety.
Celebrate your sobriety birthday.
Invite your friends and family to be a part of your recovery journey by sharing milestones, goals, and achievements.
Find fun sober activities to do.
Continue your addiction treatment as long as needed by enrolling in IOP or Aftercare.
Listen to or read other peoples’ recovery stories to remind yourself of why you’re working so hard to sustain your own sobriety.
Living in a men’s or women’s sober home can keep you accountable to your recovery and your new routine. Not only is it much more difficult to break a routine when you are living with your peers, but it’s also very helpful to have their support.
For example, if you’d like to focus on your fitness goals but can’t seem to find the motivation to get it done on your own, ask a sober roommate to join a gym with you and work out together. You may also want to cook healthy weeknight meals together or pick up ingredients from the store together every Sunday.
Building a routine in your newfound sobriety can be much easier when you have the support and accountability of your peers in recovery.