Not to be confused with a relapse prevention plan, this guide will help you plan your daily life in recovery to maximise everyday life and the opportunities that arise within.
If you were enrolled in a residential drug and alcohol rehab, you probably became accustomed to waking up early, having breakfast, meditating and attending daily support groups. These things all became a part of your routine. Now that you’re out of rehab and living life on your own again, it can be a challenge to maintain that routine without the accountability provided by your peers and Keyworkers.
If you haven’t been in a residential rehabilitation centre and are getting clean and sober in the community, it is extremely important that you plan your day out to include vital things such as eating, drinking (not alcohol) and sleep but also make time for recovery activities and just as importantly, making time for fun and socialising with others too!
Making sure you are part of a in an ongoing recovery program such as AA or NA can help you maintain a healthy routine that will aid you in lifelong recovery. Here are some of the main benefits of having a daily routine in recovery as well as things to include and things to watch out for. Planning and structure is important but just as important is knowing what the key warning signs are for you and what you must do should you encounter times of difficulty which urge and push you to feel like you need to use or drink (relapse).
The Challenges Of Developing A Clean And Sober Lifestyle
Maintaining your recovery daily isn’t always going to be easy, especially in early abstinence. There will be times when you feel like giving up, when your cravings are especially strong, or when you convince yourself that you’re a failure and you might as well just give up and carry on drinking or using because you know you will ultimately anyway. This is why creating a daily plan is so important so that you can manage these thoughts and feelings as well as knowing what to do about them. Therefore, it’s so important to have a recovery support system in place and a structured routine that will keep your mindset in the right place whilst also improving your physical and mental health. Taking healthy and intentional steps to develop a plan to live a clean and sober lifestyle will ensure that you always have the support you need, even when things get stressful, boring, or uncertain.
The act of practicing recovery daily typically involves several different aspects of life, so establishing a sober routine for yourself should include:
- Consistently, waking up and going to bed at a certain time every morning and night.
- Making time for daily exercise.
- Planning, cooking and eating healthy meals at regular times.
- Regularly attending support groups and fellowships with other clean and sober peers.
- Taking time for self-care.
- Establishing a chore schedule to keep your living space clean and organised.
- Practicing a personal hygiene routine.
- Going to school, work or similar.
- Consider volunteering or acts to help and integrate with your community.
- Developing a predictable childcare routine (if applicable).
- Keeping a daily journal, diary or blog.
- Learning new things/skills.
- Take up and get involved in hobbies or interests.
- Just as importantly is to have fun too, REGULARLY!
Setting each of these things in motion isn’t always easy and it will take a lot of effort, planning, organisation and perseverance on your part, but getting started is the always the hardest part. Eventually, these things will become daily habits and the structure of your day will become an essential part of your abstinence. Prioritising each of these things will support a lifestyle of recovery that enhances your life and will help you identify when things may be falling apart and a relapse possible and what you must do when this happens to ensure that things don’t go so far as to cause you to use or drink.
Benefits Of A Routine In Recovery
There are many benefits to having a daily routine in recovery, some of which you may have already discovered in rehab or in the community with your Keyworker or GP. If you’re wondering why you need to continue with a defined daily routine now that you’re abstinent, here are some of the top benefits.
- You maintain a sense of purpose in your everyday life & activities.
Creating a daily routine for yourself gives you a purpose, keeps you busy, and reduces the temptation to fixate on using drugs or drinking alcohol again.
- You are better equipped to deal with stress.
Stress and stressful situations are what causes many people to relapse. By maintaining a daily routine, you reduce the anxiety you can feel due to unexpected, intense, unpleasant or upsetting events. This is because you take the time to develop structure in your life that prepares you for the unexpected and provides you with the knowledge and plans to act upon when these happe.
- You improve your self-esteem and self-efficacy.
As you learn to prioritise your health and emotional well-being in recovery, you’ll also learn to value yourself and to love yourself for who you are, acknowledging past Behaviors and preparing day by day for what’s to come.
- You improve your brain function.
According to the Harvard Medical School, a routine that involves daily exercise, structure and plans for active recovery can help reduce cognitive impairment, anxiety, and stress while improving memory, mood, sleep and energy levels.
- You reduce your overall chances of relapse.
By building and implementing a daily routine for yourself, you are safeguarding your recovery and preventing the chances of relapse with positive, life-changing behaviors and thoughts that will consistently overtly and subliminally fight cravings and help you find meaning in a substance-free life.
How To Develop A Routine For Yourself
There are several things you can start doing today to get into a healthy routine. While these are all valuable tips, it’s important to build a routine that works for you. This will look different for every person in recovery and sometimes this will involve trial and error but keep persevering and you will work out what works for you. Here are a few simple ways you can get started today.
First and foremost, you need to prioritise a healthy diet. It’s up to you to cook your own meals and do the food shopping. Eating healthily and at set times throughout the day will not only ensure that your body is fuelled with energy but will also improve your overall mood levels, keeping you in the right mindset to continue with your recovery.
According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, nutritional deficiencies (especially that of some amino acids) can play a role in the onset, severity and duration of periods of low mood or depression. Other studies have shown that when supplements containing amino acids and other essential nutrients, symptoms of depression and mental illness decreased. That’s why eating a diet that is varied, nutritious and also tasty is so important.
As this research shows, creating a plan that includes a eating properly and sticking to it can help you maintain a healthy weight while also combating mental illness, depression, fluctuations in energy levels and overall mood.
Regular exercise such as walking, running, strength training or even yoga can increase endorphins (feel good chemicals) and improve overall wellbeing by reducing cravings, relieving stress and anxiety, improving confidence, body image and overall energy. All these benefits work together to fight the chances of relapsing and help you stay motivated and feeling good to remain optimistic and positive about abstinence and your recovery.
If you haven’t had a regular exercise routine in the past, it can be helpful to find a workout buddy who is willing to exercise with you or even complete workouts at home with you. This may help keep you motivated to stick to your fitness goals as you are accountable to them as they are to you. This also provides opportunities to socialise with others with a common goal in mind. Exercising doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be as simple as going for a walk for 20 minutes each day or simple weight training at home with baked bean tins in shopping bags.
Sleep deficiency can contribute to several chronic health problems, including high blood pressure, kidney disease, depression, stroke, diabetes, cold, flu and infections among others. Getting enough sleep is essential to maintaining a high quality of life, as well as your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.A study published by Penn State University also found that when people in recovery from opiate addiction got adequate amounts of sleep, they experienced fewer cravings for opioids.
One way to make sure you’re getting enough sleep is to set a regular bedtime and stick to it. If you have trouble getting into bed on time, try setting an alarm on your phone. If you typically shower before bed, make sure the alarm leaves you with plenty of time for you to shower, brush your teeth and get into bed by your desired bedtime. Avoid drinking alcohol before you go to bed, it will make you get up to urinate more as well as the quality of sleep. For more information about sleep, visit our guide to sleep.
To-do lists are a great tool to manage daily tasks and reduce overall stress. Every night before bed, try making a list of the things you need to do the next day. Initially just try doing 2 or 3 small tasks to plan into your routine and as you gain confidence and experience you can add in more tasks with greater complexity. This can be done in an hourly schedule format, split into AM/PM or just a simple bulleted list of things you want to achieve each day.
Clean And Sober Fun
Try out a new hobby or learn a new skill. It’s important to have fun while in recovery to reduce boredom, keep yourself learning new skills and try new things as well as build your social circle. Many individuals feel a sense of loss or loneliness in early recovery because they are struggling to fill the void that they previously occupied with alcohol or drugs. It will take some time to feel “normal” again but it can be done and a supportive group of peers with similar interests and passions can help.
The Correlation Between Daily Structure And Mental Health
Daily structure has a profound impact on mental health. People who establish daily patterns and routines are less stressed, get better sleep, eat healthier, are physically healthier and use their time more effectively.
Developing a structured routine will also help you better manage your time and plan for healthy choices in recovery. Even when you can’t plan for things, you’ll set yourself up to better handle changes and adjust as necessary. Physically, our minds and bodies also rely on routine and pattern to function at their best.
Having a daily routine in place will make life feel more manageable in times of stress and will also help you maintain a sense of balance and order in times of stress and uncertainty. This can boost your self-esteem and encourage you to take responsibility for your behaviors and actions. Although it does take time and effort to develop a new daily routine in early recovery, it’s worth the time and will benefit you greatly throughout your recovery journey.
Example Of A Daily Schedule For Recovering Addicts
Although it’s very important to establish a daily routine for yourself in recovery, no single addiction recovery daily plan will work for everyone. Most importantly, not everyone needs a full daily schedule to succeed in recovery. Your routine may look very different from others in recovery but the most important thing is that it works for you!
If you’re having trouble establishing a daily routine for yourself, it can be helpful to have a guide. Here is an example of a daily schedule for recovering addicts. Just remember, do what works best for you and adjust it as needed.
Example of a Daily Schedule for Recovering Addicts
7 a.m. – 7:30 a.m. – Wake up and get ready for the day 7:30 a.m. – Exercise routine 8 a.m. – Breakfast 8:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. – Chores 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Work, volunteer, school/free time to amend to do last minute things 12 p.m. – Lunch 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Work, volunteer, school/hobby/interest 5 p.m. – Recovery meeting/fellowship/IOP/aftercare 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. – Dinner 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. – Rest/hobby/self-care 8:30 p.m. – Nightly meditation/yoga 9 p.m. – Shower and get ready for bed 9:30 p.m. – Bedtime routine and lights out.
Don’t Give Up: Stay Motivated Through Drug Rehab And Sober Living
Devoting yourself to recovery daily may not always be a walk in the park, but there are several different ways you can stay motivated through drug rehab and sober living.
- If you keep a journal or diary, write yourself encouraging letters or notes that you can look back on when you’re having a rough day.
- Communicate with your sponsor (if you have one) and clean/sober peers regularly and let them inspire you with their own progress and recovery stories.
- Use an app or calendar to track the amount of days you’ve been abstinent. This will give you encouragement to carry on as you start to wrack up weeks, months and hopefully years!
- Celebrate your abstinence birthday (the day you stopped using/drinking).
- Invite friends and family to be a part of your recovery journey by sharing milestones, goals, and achievements with you. If you have relationships that have been damaged in the past because of your using/drinking, sharing these important milestones will show them that you’re really changing and succeeding!
- Find fun recovery activities that you can do on your own and with others who share similar passions and interests to you.
- Continue your addiction treatment as long as it is needed in whatever form that may be with a Keyworker at a Drug And Alcohol Service or with the support of your GP. To find your nearest service or GP surgery (if you are not already registered with one) by visiting our help and support page.
- Listen to or read other peoples recovery stories to remind yourself of why you’re working so hard to sustain your own abstinence and recovery.
Accountability is vital for your recovery. For example, if you’d like to focus on your fitness goals but can’t seem to find the motivation to get it done on your own, ask a friend in recovery to work out together. You may also want to cook healthy meals together or go food shopping together if you normally buy unhealthy ingredients for example.
Building a routine in your newfound abstinence can be much easier when you have the support and accountability of your others like you also in recovery.
Tips To Remember When Creating Your Own Plan
- Start small and simple and add to its complexity as you firstly get used to living from a plan and secondly as you gain experience as some things may need to be on your plan but might not be necessary on someone else’s. each one is unique to it’s user.
- Some universal things to include could be the time you go to sleep and get up, times to eat, times to attend fellowship or recovery activities or meetings, any regular medical or other necessary appointments, commitments with children or family and how often and when any medication or daily healthcare tasks need doing.
Try Using Our Free Downloadable Plan Templates
You can design your own plan to suit your needs, making it as simple or comprehensive as you like. If you don’t know where to start, you can view and download our templates to help you get started. You will find them on our downloads and media page.