There are many ways to help one transition from a treatment to life back at home. In the early stages of recovery, routine-building is one way to build confidence for getting life started again. It’s essential to focus on strategies that help you to stay sober and on the track to healing. Routines, which can take many shapes and forms, can be one of these strategies.
From Treatment Center to Home
Recovery in a treatment center is designed to keep things simple. There is plenty of hard work involved but there is also a set schedule day after day that allows the patient to focus on their recovery instead of daily activities. The goal is to make it feel smooth and simple as one goes from one scheduled activity to the next; it helps to know what’s coming next.
But when someone completes their treatment, that same sense of simplicity and safety isn’t there for their daily routine. Having a job may provide a sense of routine and predetermination, but it’s up to each individual to manage the rest of their day with activities that will support their sobriety and stability. A routine does not have to feel restrictive or burdensome. Instead, a routine can help one experience a greater sense of freedom, since it sets aside time for exertion as well as relaxation and rest. Routine helps to protect the patient from isolation, boredom, and loneliness, both of which can be two of the most powerful triggers for relapse.
What Should Be Included in My Routine?
A person in recovery should have a routine constructed based on their schedule, interests, and goals. Before completing a treatment program, make sure to connect with the staff to strategically “plan our your plan.” A recent study has shown that “aftercare” strategies are less commonly implemented than one would think but play a central role in relapse prevention. It can start with a list of tasks the person wishes to accomplish on a day to day basis, which can include items such as:
- Physical activities, such as workouts and exercise
- Deciding on a time to wake up and go to sleep each day
- Eating schedule and nutrition planning
- Basic care needs, such as hygiene
- Creating a set of home-care tasks to encourage a clean living environment
- Work and/or education schedule
There may also be tasks specific to recovery, such as:
- Forming new friendships and relationships
- Scheduling meetings with a substance treatment counselor
- Attending recovery meetings or group events
- Making time with healthy family and friends who are sober
Is it Best to Have a Written Plan?
In short, yes! Having a plan written out for each day helps motivate a person, especially one in recovery, to follow it. During the first few months after completing a treatment program, a person is re-learning how to manage the circumstances in life without relying on or turning to substance abuse.
It is helpful to think of writing down a daily routine as a type of “self-care,” and one that is essential to your recovery. Activities like these help to ground the individual, and ease the stress of having to plan or react on the spot when stressors arise. By following a routine-plan, a person gains confidence, self-esteem, and self-sufficiency. To check items off the daily list helps one to feel and know that they can tackle any challenges that come their way.
Benefits of Having a Routine in Recovery
Recovery treatment programs can empower a person to be the very best they can be, and sets them on the track toward stability and health. Learning how to find balance—that sense of stability—between oneself and others, work and relaxation, exertion and ease, routine and freedom, is essential to the healing process. In addition to this balance, having a routine can also improve one’s life in the following ways:
- It helps a person to learn how to manage their time more effectively. Routines can provide a sense of how much time should be dedicated to certain activities, which can affect one’s general expectations of themselves and others.
- It can assist a person in developing (or discovering) a feeling of purpose. By having a routine, each person knows what they have to do. A daily routine helps one to structure their life, ultimately encouraging more freedom.
- It can prevent relapse and reduce feelings of isolation, disconnection, and boredom.
Tips for Developing Daily Routines
Daily routines can sometimes become monotonous or rigid. But by keeping things fresh and structured at the same time, a person can avoid this sense of drudgery that often accompanies the word “routine.”
- Bring Something Joyful to Each Day
While many of the items on a person’s daily routine checklist help them to accomplish their goals, chores, and tasks, it is also important to include time for something that person enjoys or loves doing. Simple things like taking a walk with a pet or friend, gardening in the sunshine, or having a conversation with a neighbor can contribute an extra sense of ease and joy to a person’s daily routine.
- Dedicate Time for Self-Care
Self-care looks different for each person. For some, it may be joining a yoga class or signing up for an online course in a subject of interest or curiosity. Perhaps it looks like enjoying a bath or working in the garage on a hobby or project. These self-care activities show the person that they matter, and that their recovery, health, and happiness matters.
- Spend Time with Others
The early stages of recovery are often about doing things yourself and being independent from the influence of others. While this is a very important practice to develop— a sense of self-efficacy and autonomy—a person in recovery is not meant to stay solitary forever. They should learn to work with others, whether it be friends, co-workers, or family members. By sharing responsibilities with others, such as tasks around the home, a person learns the nuance of being flexible as well as the value of structure.