If you’ve spent time in a rehab treatment center, you know the emphasis put on routine and schedule. This is not a policy meant to control or “keep a tight leash” on those in recovery; rather, it’s a way in which treatment centers support clients and help them prepare for life outside a treatment center.
Why a sober schedule?
During addiction, one’s life can become extremely chaotic. With little motivation to do anything else aside from maintaining that addiction and avoiding withdrawal, it’s easy to let routines like normal waking and sleeping, hygiene and healthy eating fall to the wayside.
Scheduling for the sake of maintaining sobriety helps to keep the mind focused on something other than intrusive thoughts regarding relapse or cravings, thereby eliminating boredom. It incorporates habits like sleeping, exercising and nutritious eating; it promotes self care, which leads to stronger mental health overall.
When such a routine is implemented during addition treatment and the structure is then carried from treatment into daily life outside treatment, the mindset of recovery can be maintained with greater ease.
What is a sober schedule?
For some, the concept of a sober schedule may be daunting or overwhelming. You may be wondering—does your life suddenly become all about maintaining schedules? Does it have to be established, premeditated activities scheduled down to the minute?
Actually no, sober scheduling can be as simple as a designated time to wake up and go to bed.
A routine is a regularly completed task(s) that can be adjusted as needed to fit your lifestyle and meet your needs. It should not be a negative addition to your journey, but a positive change that helps sustain recovery. Routine establishes stability which helps reduce the lack of control felt during active addiction.
A sober schedule encourages the formation of healthy habits in place of old, damaging ones. The more dedicatedly and frequently those healthy habits are practiced, the easier it is to overcome temptation and avoid slipping into a relapse.
How to build a sober schedule
There’s no right or wrong way to do sober scheduling. You might mimic the schedule you had during your time in addiction treatment, or you might design something that works better with your work or school schedule.
The most important thing is to take stock of your needs and your goals: what is important to your success that you need to do every day? How much structure do you need to succeed? What goals do you want to achieve and what daily task will allow you to achieve them?
Asking yourself questions like this will guide you as you craft a personalized sober schedule. But if you’re still unsure of where to start, consider implementing some of these daily activities:
Wake up early — How you start your day sets the tone for the rest of the day. If you wake up earlier, you will have time to accomplish more; plus, waking up early increases a sense of self-discipline, a crucial aspect in addiction recovery.
Meal prep — Meal prep takes into consideration all the aspects of providing for yourself nutritionally, from choosing what to cook to grocery shopping for ingredients, to cooking and eating. Making the choice to eat foods full of protein, vitamins and minerals will support the body’s systems in recovering from nutritional deficiencies as a result of addiction.
Design a chore schedule — A clean living environment minimizes any sense of chaos in your life, so keeping up with chores is a must. It can be as simple as vacuuming on Monday, doing laundry on Tuesday, dusting Wednesday, etc., but even one or two housekeeping tasks per day will make a difference.
Craft time for self-care — Self-care isn’t just “treating yourself.” In recovery, it’s the maintenance of personal hygiene, taking important time to yourself to recharge and getting daily exercise, whether through yoga, bike rides or walks.
Meditation, reflection or prayer — No matter which you choose, taking the time to reset through meditation or prayer gives you the opportunity to reflect on your successes, learn from any mistakes, reassess your schedule when needed and make changes based on how you are progressing through recovery.
Regularly scheduled check-ins with your sponsor or mentor — Whether you talk with them daily, every other day or weekly, frequent meeting with your sponsor allows you to share, externally process and be supported regularly.
As you flesh out your schedule, you will begin to experience the positive effects as order replaces chaos in your life.
The benefits of a sober schedule
In addition to increasing a sense of well-being and order, a sober schedule offers countless other benefits, including:
- Reducing stress
- Increasing time management skills
- Boosting self-esteem
- Enhancing productivity
- Reducing relapse risk
You might see these benefits immediately, or it might take some time, but if you remain dedicated, you’ll find that adhering to a sober schedule not only becomes easy, it becomes relaxing.
Building your routine
Take it slowly, and don’t expect perfection when you first begin. If you find it challenging to stick to a sober schedule, start by writing out a schedule for your morning and grow accustomed to that first. Then, when you’re ready, move on to scheduling the rest of your day.
For more sober living guidance, contact Real Recovery today.