While some people love a solid routine, it can be challenging for others to implement. However, having a structured daily schedule is a helpful tool for many individuals in their day-to-day lives.
Especially in uncertain and stressful times, implementing structure can help provide a sense of control and focus to help you stay productive and goal-oriented. The same is true for individuals recovering from addiction.
Here is the importance of developing a structured schedule and how it can help individuals avoid addiction pitfalls and stay on a long-term path to recovery.
Benefits of Having a Schedule
At Right Path Addiction Treatment Centers, we believe in taking a holistic approach to recovery to give you the best chances of success. We design our program to help you focus on rebuilding your emotional and mental wellbeing as we tailor treatments to your individual needs.
This recovery can be further supported by developing and maintaining a structured schedule in the first few weeks and months, and eventually for the long-term. Whether you are struggling with difficult emotions or having difficulty acclimating to change, building and following a structured routine can help to ground you and get you through challenging times.
There are many benefits you’ll enjoy when you develop and follow a structured schedule. Adding structure to your days can help:
- Develop a sense of normal
- Reduce stress levels
- Form good daily habits
- Improve focus
- Boost productivity
- Support personal accountability
In addition to these benefits, research shows structuring each day so that most of your time is accounted for early in recovery can help you avoid relapsing. A report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse on cocaine addiction and recovery-related risks suggests that order and structure, especially early in the process, can “help to lessen the risk of relapse.”
Focus on What You Can Control
When you or someone you know becomes sober, it requires a lot of work and commitment to stop using, maintain recovery, and avoid relapse. This can create a lot of change and upheaval that, for some, can be a major adjustment.
Setting your own schedule and carefully managing your behavior throughout your recovery can give you a sense of control. This helps you better manage daily stresses and gain confidence in your ability to avoid a relapse.
When you develop a more structured schedule and follow it, it can help you feel that your days are more predictable and manageable. By focusing on the things that are within your control, you’ll feel more in charge of the things around you and be able to employ coping skills to get you through those tough days.
Develop a Daily Routine that Supports Your Sobriety
Even a simple routine can be a great starting point for anyone working to maintain their recovery from drug or substance abuse. Building a basic structure around things like waking up, mealtime, work, exercise, and enrichment activities can help you stay organized and establish a healthy routine that bolsters your new lifestyle.
There are some key things you can add to your daily schedule to help you build a routine that supports your sobriety:
- Getting regular exercise
- Getting good sleep
- Eating healthy on a regular schedule
- Setting goals
- Maintaining healthy relationships with friends and family
- Setting aside time for activities you enjoy
- Engaging in therapy
Other sober activities that you can incorporate into your daily routine may include exploring new interests, practicing meditation or mindfulness, and journaling.
Lean on Your Support System to Help Hold You Accountable
Building a support system, including trusted family, friends, and mental health professionals can hold you accountable to your schedule to ensure your continued recovery.
Committing to a routine involves self-accountability and can help show yourself and others that you’re capable of maintaining your sobriety while helping to strengthen your resolve and commitment to your recovery. But on those days, you need an extra push or some added encouragement to help you stick to your new routine; having a strong support network can make all the difference.
Besides building in time with loved ones and attending therapy, sharing your schedule with trusted individuals enables them to hold you accountable to your goals. By setting up a check-in system with others when you’re having a hard time doing some things you scheduled for the day, you can help yourself stay on track toward recovery.
Explore What Works Best for You
Everybody’s journey to recovery is different. While establishing a structured schedule is important in helping you avoid falling into old habits, developing too rigid of a structure or setting unrealistic expectations could unintentionally place more stress on you and set you up for failure.
It’s important to explore what works best for you and your circumstances. One way to develop a structure that works well is to form your schedule around your natural energy levels. Paying attention to the parts of the day when you are naturally more energetic can help you plan out your day to boost productivity and motivation. Additionally, you can work with a therapist or other support group to help you identify some of the best activities and methods you can incorporate into your daily schedule to encourage you to maintain sobriety.
Like forming any good habit, creating a new routine isn’t always easy. Developing and following a schedule takes practice and patience. It’s also important to remember that things don’t always go as planned, and that’s okay. If you find you are struggling to adhere to your new routine, remember to be kind to yourself.
An important part of your routine is also self-care and taking time for relaxation. If something doesn’t seem to be working, try adjusting your schedule so it makes more sense for work and family commitments, and remember to incorporate time for yourself.
The Final Word
An important way to combat the negative behaviors and habits that lead to addiction or relapse is to develop a structured schedule and new routine. Adding structure to your day-to-day life can help you build healthy activities into your life. In doing so, you can reduce stress, promote healthy eating and exercise, and self-care, to help you lead a fulfilling and sober life.
Native of Moldova, Dr. Zhitar is Board Certified in Addiction Medicine as well as Internal Medicine and completed his training at UPMC Shadyside, Pittsburgh, PA in 2000.