The Importance of Routine in Recovery: How Habits Help You Stay Sober
For most people in early recovery, learning how to navigate daily stressors without relying on alcohol or drugs is the ultimate test. Without substances as a vice, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the smallest of life’s challenges. Fortunately, there are tools you can use to help minimize this discomfort and manage your emotions, including establishing and following a daily routine.
Research shows that the right amount of organization and predictability helps the brain combat stress. This can undoubtedly go a long way toward helping you achieve long-term sobriety. Here are some easy ways to build structure into your daily life during early recovery – and beyond.
Establish a Sleep Schedule
Sleep disorders and substance use disorders often go hand-in-hand, and people with sleep problems have a greater risk of relapsing on their drug of choice. Unfortunately, insomnia and other sleep-related problems are common in early recovery, especially when people are experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Establishing and following a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day—even on weekends and days off—will help ease your body back into a natural and healthy sleep cycle. Over time, falling asleep (and staying asleep) will become much easier, and you’ll likely feel less stressed and irritable throughout the day.
Adopt a Daily Meditation Practice
Daily meditation can be a helpful tool for managing stress in recovery. Sometimes, though, it can feel like a difficult task for newly sober people struggling to maintain their focus and concentration. Luckily, you don’t have to be a master meditator to experience the benefits of the practice.
In fact, a recent study found that just eight weeks of daily meditation helped decrease anxiety and improve attention in non-experienced meditators. Instead of worrying about meditating perfectly, just make the commitment to try. The simple routine of sitting quietly for 10 minutes each day can help you feel calm, centered, and grounded in your life and in your recovery.
Attend Support Groups and Meetings
Attending support groups and recovery meetings on a regular basis, whether they are meetings through Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), SMART Recovery, or Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS), is a great way to establish a healthy routine.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, many meetings are widely available online and can provide you with an easy way to connect with people who are going through similar struggles. In addition to helping you establish structure, going to the same meetings each day or week allows other group members to get to know you. This familiarity can help strengthen your accountability and boost your motivation to stay sober.
If you are in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse, place emphasis on building a sustainable and healthy daily routine. You might just find that it will help reduce your stress, remain organized and goal-oriented, manage your cravings, and fight isolation.