Build a Life You Love: How Routines Can Help You Thrive in Recovery

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women reading routinely in recovery

Developing a routine in recovery is a crucial step in building a new healthy lifestyle, reducing uncertainty, and creating the structure to support your well-being and sobriety. An organized routine can reduce idle time, keep you engaged, and effectively manage stress and triggers. But where do you even begin?

  • First, you should understand why you want to build a routine and remind yourself why it is important. You may be trying to maintain sobriety, rebuild relationships, improve mental health or achieve other personal goals. Keeping your motivation in mind can help you stick to your routine
  • Assess your needs and consider the aspects of your life that can use balance and might need more attention. These might include social connections, therapy, education, self-care, work, hobbies or physical health. By identifying these areas, you can build a more holistic approach to your routine.
  • Set clear, attainable goals that are based on your needs. These goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound). For example, if improving your physical health is a priority, a goal might be to exercise each day.
  • Prioritize your activities and be sure to make those such as attending therapy sessions or support group meetings non-negotiable parts of your routine. Make recovery-related activities your priority and build the rest of your schedule around them.
  • A routine should also incorporate social support. You should include regular interactions with family, support groups or supportive friends that will be part of your wellness journey and provide encouragement in maintaining sobriety.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Plan for the unknown and anticipate that there will be situations that may trigger stress or cravings. Plan healthy coping strategies – engaging in a hobby, practicing mindfulness or even calling a supportive friend – in advance. Having a consistent schedule is important, but flexibility can also help you adapt when something unpredictable happens so you can stay focused on your overall goals.

Remember that self-care is an integral part of recovery and be sure that your daily routine includes time for activities that nurture your mental, physical and emotional health. Carve out time for meditation, healthy eating, exercise and adequate sleep.

Developing a routine takes time and you may face challenges along the way. Be patient and show yourself compassion. Recognize your successes and steps forward, no matter how small. Acknowledging your progress and achievements reinforces positive behavior and keeps you motivated.

Routines are vital but can be adjusted. Review your routine periodically and check your progress. Be honest with yourself about your goals and what is working and don’t hesitate to make adjustments to set the right routine for yourself.

Setting Goals as Part of Your Routine

Starting with small, achievable goals is the best way to begin a routine. If a consistent sleep schedule seems unattainable right now, aim for an hourlong window to go to bed each night. If going to the gym every day or participating in a regular exercise routine seems overwhelming, start with some gentle stretching a few minutes a day, take a short walk or do some light yoga.

If you want to change your eating habits, start small. Pick one area to focus on and gradually improve on it. Try drinking more water each day or cutting out one unhealthy item from your diet. Once you feel you can maintain that consistently, consider another change.

Getting Support

Surround yourself with supportive people who understand your journey and can offer encouragement without pressure. If you feel comfortable, share your goals with a trusted friend or family member who can provide gentle accountability and encouragement. Knowing someone else is rooting for you can be motivating. Sometimes, just knowing you’re not alone can make a significant difference.

Connect with others and look for stories from those who might have something in common to see what insights you can get from their experience. Sometimes, hearing about others’ journeys can motivate and inspire us. Additionally, speaking with a mental health professional can provide a safe space for you to explore your readiness for change and develop strategies to create a routine.

Taking Care of Yourself

Making time for self-care in addiction recovery is crucial, yet it can often feel challenging amidst life’s other demands. Start by shifting your mindset and acknowledge that self-care is not indulgent or selfish. This is an essential part of your recovery journey and should be a priority.

It is sometimes necessary to cut out non-essential activities in order to make time for self-care. Like all goals, set your self-care goal small at first so that it is achievable and you do not feel overwhelmed. It can be as simple as taking five minutes each morning for meditation. Once self-care habits become integrated into our routine, you can gradually increase them.

Incorporating self-care into your daily life is an uncomplicated way to enhance your routine. Practice deep breathing while you are doing dishes, practice deep breathing while you are taking a bath or listen to soothing music while you are driving to work.

You can also use planner or reminder smartphone apps to help you make time for self-care activities. Treating them like appointments can increase their importance in your routine. If you miss a self-care activity, don’t worry – just move on and get back on track with the next activity.

Try to incorporate a variety of self-care practices to address different needs – emotional, physical, social and spiritual. A more comprehensive routine will be more interesting, and you are more likely to enjoy doing it each day. As with all routines, do a review of what’s working and don’t be afraid to adjust your activities and interests so your self-care remains effective.

Remember, it’s not about where you start but the direction you’re moving in. Each small step you take is a part of your journey toward recovery and personal growth. Be patient and gentle with yourself as you navigate this path at your own pace. Recovery is a journey and your needs will change over time so your routines can be adjusted to reflect those changes. The goal is to find a balance that allows you to grow, heal and thrive.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Mountainside can help.
Click here or call (888) 833-4676 to speak with one of our addiction treatment experts.