- Written By Granite Recovery Centers
- Clinically Reviewed By Cheryl Smith MS,MLADC
- April 27, 2021
Early recovery distinguishes itself as a time when those who used to rely on drugs or alcohol to function must return to their lives again without the daily supervision of peers, sponsors, and medical personnel. It can be a scary time, but developing a routine can help. Throughout the day, you must see everything that used to lead you to seek drugs or alcohol, but it is a different day today, and you have to get through it without drinking or taking drugs.
During the time that you don’t have drugs or alcohol to fall back on when you experience life’s challenges, you must find something else that will keep you safe. These tools exist, and they will be instrumental in relieving your feelings of discomfort; they will also regulate your emotions. The answer is to create a routine and stick to it.
Stress is the reason that many people have difficulties keeping their recovery goals on track. In 2019, more than 75% of American adults reported feeling stressed, and stress kept approximately 50% of this population awake during the night.
One of the best ways to manage stress and make sure that you maintain your sobriety is to establish a routine. Therefore, you will ensure that you can live a sober life for the long term if you do the following take these steps.
Get Enough Sleep
This can be a challenge because sleep disorders and substance use disorders often go together. This is a problem for those in recovery because lack of sleep often leads people to use drugs or drink alcohol again. The inability to sleep causes people to take drugs that they believe will help them sleep, but these drugs keep them trapped in their addictions.
Not getting enough sleep is also dangerous for those in recovery because they are tired during the day. In the hours that they need to be awake, they may decide to take stimulants to help them complete their tasks throughout the day.
While you were in the middle of your addiction, you weren’t getting as much sleep as you needed. This may have affected your physical health, and getting a good night’s rest every night will allow your body to begin to heal from all the physical damage.
Now is the time to get back to sleeping and waking up on schedule again. Make sure that you wake up at the same time every morning and go to sleep at the same time every night. Do this whether you are going to work or not. Then, your body will fall back into its natural sleep cycle. If you are having trouble staying asleep, maintaining your routine should help you remain asleep longer, and you will notice that you aren’t feeling as stressed as you have been in the past.
You may want to follow a few tips if you aren’t used to going to bed at night and sleeping for eight hours. Setting an alarm to wake up in the morning will make it so that you never oversleep. Setting the alarm at night can be a part of your regular routine as you are preparing to go to bed. Before you go to bed, turn off the screens. This will help you begin to relax and get ready to go to sleep.
Practice Meditation Daily
Meditation is an excellent tool for managing stress. If you are in early recovery, planning to stick to a regular schedule of meditation can be difficult. Meditation requires that you maintain your focus and concentrate, but this is hard when you are just getting started in recovery. Fortunately, you can learn how to meditate and obtain the benefits of the practice without being a master of it.
Meditation is a practice of the mind and body that people have been using for several years. It benefits your overall health, but it also encourages you to remain calm. Meditation works on the mind, body, brain, and behavior and the interactions between those forces.
Meditation can be as simple as sitting still for 10 minutes. You can also make sure that you have the four essential elements before committing to the practice. One element is a quiet place where you can sit without any distractions. The second is a “posture.” This may be sitting, lying down, walking, or any position where you will feel comfortable. The third element is where you will focus your attention. For example, you may focus on your breathing or on an object. The fourth element is the ability to be open. This means that if a memory perceived as negative comes to mind, you will allow it to exist without judging it and allow it to disappear.
Frequent Recovery Meetings
You know that recovery is a journey and that you are not finished with it because you are finished with your inpatient treatment program. Long-term sobriety means that you are continuing to be fully engaged in your recovery. This means that you must attend recovery meetings, and the best way to do this is to make it part of your normal routine. These meetings can be held by anyone, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS), or SMART Recovery.
When in-person meetings are not possible, organizations hold their meetings online, and online meetings are still a great way for you to connect with people in recovery. You will be able to attend these meetings every week or even every day, so they will definitely help you establish a routine. Spending time with the people in the meetings will give everyone a chance to get to know everybody, and that leads to everyone feeling accountable to everyone else. It also gives you an incentive to stay sober.
The best way to choose a group is to find one that meets at the same time. You may want to try two or three different groups to find out if one is more to your liking than another. Also, ask a friend to go with you if you don’t feel comfortable going alone at first.
Eat Healthy Foods
Proper nutrition isn’t a priority when you are addicted to substances, so you may be malnourished now. You may have lost an unhealthy amount of weight because you weren’t eating regular meals. Sometimes, addiction leads to a lot of unhealthy choices, so this is another issue.
Detoxification removed the toxins from your body, so you need to replace them with nutrients so that you can continue to heal. If you begin to eat a healthy diet now, you can improve your overall health.
Writing in a food journal will help you start to eat healthy foods again with a regular routine. If your refrigerator or pantry still has some unhealthy food choices, take some time to remove them. You don’t have to become a vegan overnight, but you can start out making a few healthier choices in the beginning and lead up to eating a healthy diet a majority of the time.
Start an Exercise Routine
Everybody needs to exercise, but those in recovery need it even more. If you have been drinking or taking drugs for a long time, exercise is even more important for you because exercise will help you heal mentally and physically. Also, completing an exercise routine every day will give you something meaningful to spend your time doing.
To make this easier for you, find someone you can exercise with so that you will look forward to it. Try jogging for a couple of weeks, and then try something else to mix things up. If you don’t particularly enjoy basketball, for example, don’t do it. Only take part in things that you enjoy so that you won’t have an excuse not to exercise. Set aside a minimum of 30 minutes each day so that you can engage in light exercise.
Return to Your Job
Returning to your job would do a lot to help you enter into a healthy routine again. Just the thought of going back to work may seem frightening, but working will take up a large portion of your day for a good purpose. You will have somewhere to go every day, and this can help you avoid returning to drug or alcohol use.
If you are currently out of work and do not know what to look for, it’s a great opportunity to make a fresh start. Search for a job in an area that you would enjoy living in. Moving away, even just a couple of towns over, will also help you leave behind detrimental surroundings.
Your job should be something that you would feel gives you a sense of purpose. If you aren’t invested in your career, now would be a good time to try something new, like going back to school or switching fields. It’s never too late to achieve the dreams that you had before your addiction.
Don’t worry if it takes you a while to find a job. If you’re having a hard time getting employed, find out if friends or family know if someone needs extra help. People in your recovery meetings, as well as counselors and therapists, have access to great employment resources, so don’t be afraid to cast a wide net.
Find Something to Do With Your Free Time
When people don’t have anything to do, they remember their addictions. This is the time when they can pay attention to the cravings. Make sure that you don’t have times like these by filling in the time between your meetings, your job, and your exercise.
If you had a hobby that you enjoyed before you became addicted to drugs or alcohol, go back to that hobby. You could also try a new hobby. The meditation that you learned in rehab is also a good activity for the times when there isn’t anything that you have to do. If you don’t have anything, just keep trying new things until you find the one that you would like to keep doing. Then, make sure that you make time for it in your routine.
Take Care of Yourself
Allowing time to take care of yourself is a must for your routine. This ensures that you have time to unwind so that you aren’t always running at a rapid pace. It also prevents the possibility of relapsing on drugs or alcohol. Taking care of yourself is whatever you do that makes you feel as if you have been rejuvenated. Some people like to sit and read a good book, and others enjoy spending time conversing with a friend.
Just remember that you are not being selfish when you indulge in self-care. If you don’t take good care of yourself first, you aren’t going to take the best care of your family and your responsibilities