Might as well address this first: When you think "routine," you probably think "boring," and possibly think "suffocating." The word alone evokes mental images of flossing your teeth, scanning to-do lists, groaning at alarm clocks, perhaps completing a certain set number of push-ups …
But routines offer security, a sense of purpose, structure and even power. Finding and flexing empowering practices and techniques can help you navigate the road to your recovery.
Routines bring consistency to your daily life. We sometimes think of routines as something imposed on us, but that's backwards: They offer you a chance to actively create an ideal life for yourself. As you overcome addictions and mental health challenges, creating meaningful sober routines can fortify your experience.
A sterling sober routine makes plenty of room for enriching, inspiring and healing practices that support the balance between your well-being and responsibilities. Once you find what works for you and develop consistent habits that support your healing, your recovery journey will become more manageable—often dramatically so.
What Is a Sober Routine, and Why Do I Even Want One?
A routine—any routine—is a series of actions and behaviors that are a part of your daily life. It can be helpful to develop an intentional routine that encompasses all of your personal needs and responsibilities. Not everything we do in our days needs to be routine nor even productive, but many people in recovery find it helpful to have the structure of routines; it feels more purposeful than the aimlessness of addiction.
Routine is all about habit and consistency, about living intentionally. By setting strong intentions around your desired actions and behaviors, you can follow through with actions that are aligned with your goals for a healthier life. That's more or less what you want from sobriety, no?
I'm Sold. How Can I Create My Healthy Sober Routine?
A healthy routine supports and nourishes your overall well-being. A good routine will honor your needs and responsibilities so that you feel balanced and accomplished each day. (But leave time for treats and pleasure.)
There are many things you can do to develop a healthy routine, so it's helpful to take some time to think about this. Ask yourself some questions and lay out your options to get a sense of where to start.
Your routine doesn't have to be set in stone; there is room to add or subtract stuff that feels best for you. What matters most is that you feel fulfilled as you engage in intentional practices each day. It's not supposed to be a chore; it's an antidote to the gray apathy of addiction.
A lot of what makes a strong routine is rooted in healthy stress management skills. Some of the things you can do to establish a healthy routine that supports your recovery process include:
Think Long Term
As you develop a sense of what a healthy routine looks and feels like, it can be fairly simple to decide what you want to incorporate into your daily or weekly schedule. Consider some factors as you readjust:
- Take your time integrating healthier actions and habits into your daily life; recovery isn't a race.
- Honor your efforts and celebrate your accomplishments and milestones as you move forward with your recovery process.
- Incorporate things that you enjoy, and be open to discovering new ones.
- Get to know yourself, again (this is an underrated benefit of sobriety) and create a routine that helps you establish a well-rounded and fulfilling life.
- If you miss a day or face any other challenges with your new routine, start from where you left off and continue with your progress. Don't stress.
It is essential to show yourself grace and compassion as you adapt to a new lifestyle, and that's what recovery is. Although there can be a learning curve, your progress will never be lost. Committing to a healthier life takes time, effort, can-do spirit and a certain amount of perseverance.
The Payoff: How a Routine Can Support Your Recovery and Genuinely Better Your Life
Getting into a routine, research shows, supports mental health and addiction recovery efforts. That's true if you're more into strict guidelines or prefer to follow moods, vibes and flows.
Making the conscious effort to create and execute a routine that feels just right for you can work wonders for your overall health and well-being. As you overcome addiction, there is a sense of security that routines provide, and this is key. Security means less stress. Security makes you strong!
Routines can support your recovery in all kinds of more specific ways:
- Offering a sense of predictability and stability
- Balancing your responsibilities and pleasures
- Helping you identify and prioritize your needs
- Incorporating tools and techniques that support your growth and healing
- Establishing and maintaining boundaries that protect your mental health and sobriety
So yes, absolutely, establishing a sense of structure by creating and sticking to a meaningful routine can support your recovery process. There are so many ways to create a lifestyle that helps you thrive and overcome your challenges and obstacles.
A routine is not a slog, a chore, a bore or a limitation. On the contrary, once you discover the things that light up your world and trot them out more often, the road to recovery becomes much smoother.
(Image by Cezary Tomczak, Maxime Lorant / CC BY-SA 4.0)