Does it ever feel like when you look back on your week, you aren’t sure what you even did? The days might seem like they blur together into a foggy haze, or maybe it’s the opposite? You find yourself rushing from one task to the next, wishing for more hours in the day. Each day ends like a tornado crashed through your living room and there is no time left for self-care.
Committing to a daily routine is a way to alleviate these feelings, become more grounded in each day, and strengthen your recovery skills.
It is natural to question how a routine could help your life or if it is even possible to put it into action. Maybe you have tried to implement healthy habits into your schedule or build a daily routine before, and it didn’t work out like you hoped. Building life skills like these when you are not accustomed to it can be a challenge, but at Washburn House, our addiction treatment programs teach these valuable skills.
Continue reading for a potentially different perspective to fuel more stability, growth, and enjoyment from life.
Whether you have planned it or not, we all have routines. Think about what you do when you get up in the morning, when you get home from work, and what you do before bed. Often there are patterns in our behaviors, like rolling out of bed each morning with only 15 minutes to get out the door.
When you think about your daily actions, do they reflect what is important to you or support your sobriety?
Deciding to create a routine can breathe intention and purpose into your life. You are choosing how you want to fill your time instead of being swept up in chaos or stuck in autopilot.
When you take on a routine, there can be a sense of empowerment to create your own day with a balance of what you need to do and what you want to do. Maintaining your recovery during and after addiction treatment requires these intentional daily actions to avoid relapse and build awareness of triggers.
Benefits of Having a Routine
Having an intentional routine can have positive impacts on both mental and physical health in many ways.
- We Respond Well to Structure: People tend to thrive when they know what to expect in their day. This can help reduce anxiety because there is less uncertainty. Having consistency helps people feel safe and have a foundational framework from which they can adapt and make adjustments during the day.
- We Can Avoid Decision Fatigue: When you have a routine, there are also fewer decisions to make in your day so you can spend more time caring for yourself. This concept is called decision fatigue and highlights our lack of ability to continue to make good, well-thought-out decisions when presented with overwhelming opportunities to do so. Building structure and life skills that support healthy choices are important to continue to be able to make choices in your life that are consistent with your recovery goals.
- A Regulated Sleep-Wake Cycle Leads To Quality Sleep & More Energy: There is ample research on how our circadian rhythms or sleep-wake cycles impact our health and various mental health diagnoses. When sleep schedules are routined, it increases the likelihood of having more restful and satisfying sleep by completing each sleep cycle at night. This means going to bed each night around the same time and waking up each morning on a schedule (even on weekends). This helps us to get the most out of our day and night.
- We Can Better Manage Our Stress Level: People who have healthy daily routines have been shown to handle stress better as it comes up. This may be due to having self-care already built into their schedule, among other healthy coping skills. When challenges arise, or something unexpectedly negative comes up, their training kicks in and they can naturally follow in their practiced habits. This ability to manage stress greatly reduces opportunities for relapse.
It can be helpful to start by noticing what you are already doing in your days. Reflecting on what needs to be done, what tends to get pushed off, and what you have been doing well are all great places to start. Writing this down or using a calendar can help you visualize your day, week, or month and think through how you want to spend your time. It’s also helpful to break up your routine into daily habits vs. weekly priorities based on your schedule.
ou can better visualize the small ways you can mix-up your day once this is completed, and what sort of structure will work best for you, given your specific work and family responsibilities, among other obligations.
When deciding how to structure a routine, focus on balancing holistic wellness to care for each area of life.
Areas of Wellness
Physical Wellness helps ensure you are getting adequate sleep, eating regularly, moving your body, and noticing what you are consuming. This could look like going on a walk during your lunch break, making sure that you have a balanced breakfast or pack a healthy lunch, and attending health appointments.
Emotional Wellness centers around how you care for your inner world and whether or not you are meeting your personal needs. Some examples includes making time for reflection like journaling, meditating, going to counseling, or spending time in nature.
Social Wellness focuses on our need for relationships with others and feeling connected to our world. Spending time with others can help this like having an activity with your partner, calling a long-distance friend, or going to a 12 step meeting.
Professional Wellness creates purpose and interest in workdays or career building. This can be setting boundaries like saying no or asking for help, making a daily to-do list, or starting educational efforts to expand your knowledge on what you are interests.
These are only some of the dimensions of wellness. If you are interested in learning more, follow this link for information and tips.
Strategies for Making it Work
Building life skills and starting a new routine is not easy! It is going to take determination and some self-reflection to begin to put new habits into practice. Remember that building a schedule that works well for you will take time and is an ever-evolving process. Be kind to yourself along the way!
Here are a couple of tips to help the process feel more doable.
- Set Your Purpose – Build awareness as to why you want to start your routine in the first place. This will help to prioritize your changes and keep you motivated on more challenging days. Your purpose could be as simple as “proving to myself that I can do it” or could be promising to reward yourself for hitting a particular milestone. Reflecting on how building life skills and a routine as part of addiction treatment can help you feel more confident in even these small steps that you are taking towards recovery.
- Make Small Steps – You don’t need to make every change you want all at once. In fact, you are more likely to get overwhelmed and give up before you have a real opportunity to start. Choose two or three life skills to focus on or new habits that feel like they will fit nicely into your existing schedule.
When those habits feel like a natural part of your day, move on to another action to add-in. You might just want to focus on your morning routine for a few weeks before switching up your night routine. Pace yourself and know that there will likely be hiccups along the way.
- Allow For Changes – Track how your changes are going in order to see what is going well and where you might be struggling. You might need to play around with your schedule to find what best fits you, as there is no one universal routine that works for everybody! If your routine totally falls apart one day, don’t give up! Research reminds us that it takes 21 days to make a habit stick, and there is always tomorrow to try something new.
- Be Personal – Even though it can help to get ideas from the routines from people around you or Instagram celebrities, the best routine for you will be unique! We all have different schedule demands and ways that we prefer to relax, and our routine should be reflective of that. Take your recovery needs into consideration and how you can build skills and practices that positively impact your daily life.
Addiction Treatment at Washburn House
Creating a routine that will elevate your life will be a journey of learning about yourself and your recovery needs. Conveniently located in Worcester, Massachusetts, Addiction Treatment at Washburn House can help you build these relapse prevention and life skills and implement them into your life in a meaningful way. If you or someone you know could benefit from assistance, contact us today!