A Plan in Place
In high school, I had a teacher who was fond of saying, “If you fail to plan, then you have planned to fail.” It wasn’t until I got older that the phrase took on more meaning for me. Without the safety net of caring adults that had always guided me through my childhood, I needed a plan in place to help me avoid unpleasant predicaments during my transition to adulthood.
Regardless of their age, a person in recovery needs to have a good plan. They are learning how to live life in a whole new way, without substances. Planning and routine can help those in recovery avoid old habits and safeguard their well-being.
Benefits of Having a Routine in Recovery
Psychology Today outlines numerous benefits to having a consistent schedule in recovery including:
- Avoiding the old routine – Chances are, when you were in active addiction you had some sort of schedule you followed, and that schedule, even if it harmed you, may have brought you comfort. You need to have a way to experience that comfort without falling into old patterns of behavior.
- Erasing unpredictability – Not knowing what will happen next can be a major stressor, and stress is one of the leading risk factors for relapse.
- Having a strategy for staying on track – By working with your treatment counselor, therapist, sponsor and other trusted professionals, you can make a plan to ensure that you don’t easily relapse.
- Establishing fresh priorities – If you don’t put something into writing, it is easy to push it to the side and do something else instead. By putting down on paper what you will do each day to strengthen your recovery, you are ensuring that nothing else takes precedence.
- Clearly defined productivity – Without measurable goals, it can be difficult to know if you are doing well. If, however, you know that your plan is to attend 30 recovery meetings in 30 days, talk with your sponsor 3 times per week, and journal daily, it is easy to tell if you’re working on your recovery.
- Giving loved ones a clear indicator of your well-being – Not only will measurable, written goals give you a sense of your progress, but it will also allow the people who care about you most to know how you’re doing and give you informed feedback.
What Should My Routine Include?
Every individual is different, so every recovery journey is also unique. Some things are considered highly beneficial to recovery because they connect you to other people, reduce stress levels and help to pass the time, and you may wish to find a place on your schedule for them:
- Recovery-Specific Activities: This can include things like attending recovery groups, talking to your sponsor, journaling about your recovery, reading from recovery books, and working on homework from your sponsor. These should probably be your very first priority.
- Exercise: Exercise is not just a good way to fill time, but it is also a way to train your brain to release the feel-good chemicals that you’ve previously relied on drugs to provide. Depending on what sort of exercise you pursue, it might also be a good way to build your sober support system.
- Nutrition: A balanced diet can give your body and brain the tools needed to repair damage they suffered while you were in active addiction. You may even find that you enjoy preparing nutritious meals for yourself and others, as you learn more about nourishing your body in this way.
- Sleep: In addition to being one of the keys to combating relapse, sleep is a key to combating physical ailments and mental illness symptoms.
- Meditation: There are many free videos online that can offer guidance on how to meditate and be mindful, and there are dozens of different techniques to try. Some methods can help with combating anxiety or increasing focus, while others can make it easier to fall asleep or let go of anger.
- Family, Group and/or Individual Therapy: It is not at all uncommon for people who’ve experienced substance use disorder to also be trauma survivors and/or have a mental health diagnosis. Understanding how these different factors can impact each other can be immensely helpful in addressing your full spectrum of needs. Family therapy may also help you to reconnect with people who mean the most to you.
We Can Help
At Safe Harbor Recovery Center, we work with each of our guests to ensure that they have a recovery plan that is uniquely built around their values, obligations and needs.