One of the most important things in recovery is structure, which means creating – and sticking to – a daily routine. The most successful routines involve scheduling activities throughout the day, paying extra attention to times when cravings and temptation might occur.
The goal of a routine is to keep busy, but it is also an opportunity to learn, explore and build a new platform on which to live a full and enriching life in recovery.
What Would You Like to Learn and Achieve?
Sit with a pen and paper and brainstorm a list of things you would like to do, learn and achieve. What skills have you always wanted to master, or what is an area of life in which you want to make improvements?
Next, make a list of recovery-based activities, like attending an AA meeting or reading your morning affirmations book. Now, it’s time to assemble a daily schedule. (Note: investing in a whiteboard to write a schedule on is highly recommended so it can be prominently placed where you are likely to see it every morning.)
Make a Schedule
Using a whiteboard, computer, or paper, make a timeline of a normal day from waking up to going to sleep, marked by hours. Start by scheduling a time to do habitual daily activities like:
- waking up
- taking a shower
- going to work
- walking the dog
- taking medications
- eating meals
- going to sleep
Types of routines vary to suit different people, but there are a few steadfast rituals that everyone in recovery can benefit from (ie making your bed, saying affirmations, etc.).
Filling in the Gaps
Now it’s time to fill in the gaps. Starting by scheduling a morning affirmation directly after waking up, which could include reading something inspirational and/or reaffirming a commitment to staying sober. Next, it is essential to find a time to attend an AA meeting in your area that day. Any other time gaps should be filled with specific activities, like
- meeting up with sober friends for coffee
- taking a free course online
- planning a time to start working out (exercise is a great way to release endorphins and restore brain chemisty)
…or anything else that was on your original list of things to learn and achieve. Lastly, try to follow this formula to make a schedule for every day of the week. It may sound strange, but scheduling every aspect of the day really helps to stay on track and sober.
Sticking With it
Making a schedule is one thing, but following it is another. Make a commitment to yourself and invest in your sobriety by following a schedule. It can be difficult at first, especially waking up and going to bed at the same time every day (a practice known as ‘maintaining sleep hygiene’), but once a routine is in place, it will begin to seem effortless.
After a routine is established, the next step is to branch out and explore new hobbies and opportunities to learn new abilities. Surrounding yourself with positive influences and other sober friends to support your recovery and using your time wisely to keep sober is a reward in itself.
Remember, taking recovery one day at a time and sticking with it is a proven method of staying sober. A daily schedule goes a long way to keeping away from temptation and bad influences that could derail your recovery. Investing the time and effort into keeping a routine is one of the best things a recovering alcoholic or addict can do to stay sober.