How to set yourself up for success while in recovery
Giving up addictive behaviors is only the beginning of recovery. In order to set yourself up on a sober path this new year, it’s important to set yourself up for success. Recovery is a process, and you have to put yourself in the proper frame of mind.
Many addiction specialists will tell you that the first 90 days or so can be the toughest. It’s not that it ever gets easy, but it will get more manageable after you get over that initial hump.
Addiction.com suggests that you create and stick to a very tight schedule – at least at first:
“Making a daily schedule is much more than busywork. In recovery, it’s essential to have a clear list of what to do and when to help keep you on track. In fact, you’ll probably need to literally schedule most or even all of the hours of the day to accommodate what’s absolutely essential during early recovery. This includes the times you wake up, eat, exercise, work, attend 12-step meetings, go to doctor or therapy appointments, take medication, spend time with family and friends and sleep.”
The more you jam pack your day with healthy activities and goals, the less idle time you’ll have to be tempted by unhealthy habits. It might seem like a lot of work, but it’s important to block your time out so that you’ll always know exactly what you need to be doing at any given time.
It’s not enough to simply ditch your unhealthy habits. You must replace those with new, healthy habits. Getting more involved with church activities can bring you more of a sense of purpose and uplift your spirits during times that can be particularly trying. Diet and exercise are wonderful ways to not only refocus your attention on something meaningful, but also develop a “new normal” that will improve all other aspects of your life. A healthy mind and body means a healthy soul.
Exercising not only helps the body and mind heal, but it also forces you to surround yourself with people attempting to live healthy lifestyles. Diet works in the same way. Try joining an online diet community or in-person cooking program where you can meet people dedicated to healthy living.
But don’t overextend yourself. It’s just as important to understand that taking on too many new responsibilities can cause excess stress in your life, and stress is a main factor in succumbing to addictive behaviors. Don’t overcompensate by working too much, or trying to make too many changes in your life. Sure, it’s good to start up a new exercise routine but if you’re obsessing over new activities and goals, you’re setting yourself up for a crash.
Find a safe living space. Depending on your living arrangements prior to recovery, you may need to find a new place to live after recovery. For example, if you were living with friends who also had addiction problems or with family members with whom you have a strained relationship, it’s best that you not try to live in those spaces again after recovery. Do some research in your area. There may be sober living houses nearby. You might also look for areas that have more businesses associated with healthy living–for example, workout studios, meditation organizations, health food stores, etc.–than bars and other nightlife-related businesses. Similarly, if you’re in AA or NA, you might want your new home to be close to the location of those meetings.
Lean on people. Don’t be wary of outside help. You’re not a burden on your friends and family – and they can shoulder some of the weight. Ask for help if you need it. Support groups, therapists, and counselors exist for a reason – they can actually help. Addiction is oftentimes a solitary affliction, and the best way to get out of that is to open yourself up to people. This will help set yourself up for success.
Guest post by Jackie Cortez