“Make Your Bed”: The Importance of Routine in Addiction Recovery

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day….Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”

Retired Navy Adm. William H. McRaven first gave that advice in 2014 as part of his commencement speech at the University of Texas, Austin. His speech evidently touched a nerve, because it went viral and became a basis for his book Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...and Maybe the World. Making sure that you have time for, and take care of, the little things ensures that the big things will happen too.

Sobriety: A Huge Change

Your decision to say goodbye to addiction and embrace sobriety is a huge change. When you went through a treatment program, you made many positive changes in your life. Embracing sobriety isn’t just about overcoming addiction; it’s also about creating a new, healthy lifestyle.

In treatment, your schedule was provided for you. You knew when to get up when to eat, when to workout, when to go to therapy, when to go to your support group, and when to go to bed. The routine was established to make sure that everything you needed for your recovery happened and to establish healthy habits. Now that you have finished treatment, you need to create a routine to ensure that you continue with those healthy habits.

Routine Provides Structure and Stability

When you were struggling with your addiction, your life was out of your control and your substance of choice was in charge. Through treatment, you regained control of your life. Having a stable routine will help you remain in control.

Routine provides us with structure. Knowing what we are going to do and when we are going to do it gives us control of our lives and a sense of self-efficacy. We know what to expect and we can prepare. A routine can even give us a sense of accomplishment because if we have a plan for our day, we will know that we have completed what we set out to do.

How to Create a Routine

When you start creating your routine, begin with what could be called your anchor points. Another way to think of it is to begin creating your routine by starting with the non-negotiable items. While those will vary from person to person, for many of us they will revolve around our work schedule and when our children (if we have children) need to be in school. Remember to include the time that it takes to get to and from the places that you go routinely. Time spent in transit may not be as important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people are working from home and some children are attending school online, but it is still something to consider.

Another set of vital anchor points to pin down is the time you go to bed and the time you wake up. When you go to bed and get up at roughly the same time every day, it improves the quality of your sleep. And a good night’s sleep makes the next day so much better.

When you have established a few key anchors, you can begin linking other important activities to these points. For example, you may decide that after you wake up, you will meditate or go for a run. You might set out your clothes for the next day as part of getting ready for bed.

When you are creating your routine, remember that not every day will look the same and that’s okay. On some days you may be ferrying children to practice or rehearsal (although not so much during the pandemic) and on other days you may be attending your support group. What’s important is that you have a plan and you know what to expect.

What to Include in Your Routine

As you establish your routine, you will want to make sure you have time for activities that nourish your body and your soul and support your sobriety. You will want to make time to attend your support group. Many people in early sobriety go to several meetings a week. You will want to make time for appointments with your therapist. Exercise is important to your physical and mental well-being, so you will want to be sure that you include time for exercise several times a week. Include time to plan and prepare nutritious meals and be sure to include some time for self-care and household maintenance.

Having a routine does not mean that everything will be within your control, but it does mean that more of your day will go as planned. In addition to reducing feelings of anxiety, this will give you a sense of efficacy and accomplishment, and that feels really good.

Establishing a routine to follow in recovery may sound trivial, but it helps ensure that you attend to all the little details that require attention. When you succeed at the little things, you are set up to meet your big goals as well, like remaining sober. A routine provides your life with structure and ensures that you have time for the activities that nourish your body and soul. Learning to create routines is one of the life skills you will gain at Enlightened Solutions. Enlightened Solutions is a drug and alcohol treatment center located on New Jersey’s southern shore. We are licensed to treat co-occurring disorders, which means that we can help with the mental health issues that frequently go hand-in-hand with substance abuse. Our focus is on healing the whole person, not just treating an addiction. In addition, to talk therapy and group support, we offer a range of holistic treatment modalities including yoga, meditation, art and music therapy, family constellation therapy, and acupuncture. If you have been struggling with an addiction, please call us at (833) 801-5483. We are here to help you.

Creating Goals: Managing Expectations for Successful Recovery

Creating Goals: Managing Expectations for Successful Recovery

When entering a recovery program, you may be asked, “What are your goals for recovery?” You may have some idea for recovery goals based on avoiding the pain that brought you into a care program or other form of treatment. You might be thinking about loved ones that your addictions have hurt or the pain you may have brought into your own life.

While you can benefit from thinking of the mistakes you would like to avoid repeating, recovery goals are things that you want to do to move toward. Goals are positive accomplishments that you would like to achieve or bring into your life. When you set about on your recovery journey, think about where you want to be. Use the negative experiences in your life to remind yourself of what you would like to avoid while looking ahead to what you want.

Goals Are the Road Map

Creating goals will help you move from where you are to where you would like to be. Otherwise, you may be feeling lost or confused while thinking that recovery is just about avoiding specific behaviors. Recovery is much more than learning how to manage and evade addictive behaviors.

Recovery is about building a fulfilling and rewarding life. Recovery is about building a new life for yourself and finding new destinations. In recovery, you may get stuck feeling like you know what you do not want more than you know what you do want.

You may feel that everything will work out as long as you avoid triggers and maintain sobriety. Life is about so much more! Finding a focus will help keep you from feeling trapped by substances or alcohol. Recovery is a journey, a means to a destination.

Where are you going in your recovery? Once you know where you are going, the journey becomes easier. Goals are the steps along the way toward your destination. They are the specific targets that you reach to move forward on your journey toward something greater.

Creating goals for recovery can be a fun process! You can use your imagination and create the person you want to become. You can begin by taking some time to think about what is important to you. What things get you out of your bed each morning? What are the fun things that you enjoy? What makes you feel fulfilled?

Challenging Negativity and Pushing Forward

If you have never created any goals or thought about this before, you may feel challenged thinking about these things. You may also be feeling down and experiencing negative emotions, like hopelessness and helplessness. When you feel down like this, the bright side is, you can only move upward.

If you cannot feel any worse, then the only option is to feel better! Any small step forward is a step toward success! Each positive step is a victory when you are in a down and out mental place! Build positive momentum and push forward by managing your expectations. When beginning the goal-making process, small steps forward will lead to big rewards along the journey!

Manage Your Expectations: Building Positivity

Bringing a positive mindset to recovery can help you along the entire journey. Start with small, everyday goals. While you may have a bigger accomplishment in mind, like, “I want to be a better parent” or “I want to get a Master’s degree,” keep these things in mind as you start small.

In the beginning stages of recovery, you may be neglecting some of your own self-care needs. You may be struggling with having a routine or finding any rewarding hobbies. You will be a better parent when you know how to care for yourself. You will be more successful in college if you can follow a routine.

Choose a goal like making your bed every morning or exercising for fifteen minutes per day. Be proud of yourself for the everyday victories and, as you remain consistent, you will build a positive mindset to move forward to tackling bigger challenges! Remember to think of the small things that you can do to start your recovery.

Be proud of yourself for any victory or achievement, even the daily accomplishments, like cooking dinner or taking a walk. When you are at rock bottom, the only place for you to go is up! Start small and think of where you want to go and less about what you want to avoid. Recovery is a journey that can be fun and rewarding! Set small goals to guide you along the way as you create the life that you want!

When you are at rock bottom, you may have a difficult time seeing the light. You may be struggling with negative emotions and feelings of hopelessness. You may even feel like you do not deserve to be happy if you have hurt others in the past due to your addictions. Holding onto the past can keep you glued in a state of “rock bottom.” You deserve to seek a fulfilling life beyond simply avoiding addictive behaviors. You deserve to be happy and to move forward. Building momentum takes some time; start with the small victories. Manage your expectations and have fun along the way! Enlightened Solutions offers our clients new ways of approaching recovery and emphasizes the importance of building a fulfilling life beyond our care program. Call us today at (833) 801-5483 to begin your recovery journey!


Why Is a Regular Routine Good for Addiction Recovery?

If you go through an inpatient addiction treatment program, you’ll find that almost everything happens on a schedule. You get up at a regular time, eat meals at regular times, go to therapy at regular times, and go to bed at a regular time. Obviously, it helps to have a schedule when you’re trying to organize the activities of many people but it’s also important that this routine is fairly regular. Establishing and following a regular routine in recovery has many benefits, including the following.


A Routine Makes Healthy Decisions Automatic


Perhaps the most important reason to have a regular routine is that it helps to automate healthy behaviors. You don’t have to decide whether to get up at a reasonable hour or sleep all day; you don’t have to decide when you’re going to eat or if you’re going to exercise. Once you’ve established a regular routine, you don’t have to put much effort into making these decisions. So, for example, if you go to a 12-Step meeting at the same time every day, you don’t have to equivocate and think, “Do I want to go today? Should I maybe try a different meeting? Can I skip one?” You’re in the habit of going to a meeting at that time so you just go. The same is true of any recovery activity. The less thought and effort you have to put into healthy behaviors, the more likely you are to continue doing them.


A Routine Reduces Anxiety


Anxiety is a common issue among people with substance use disorders and uncertainty is one of the biggest drivers of anxiety. If you have no idea what each day will bring or if you know you will face an unfamiliar situation, you will often feel more anxious than if you know you will have to deal with something bad. 


Having a regular routine reduces anxiety in two ways. First, it’s a way of controlling the things you can control. You have a certain amount of free time each day and making deliberate decisions about how to spend it increases your feelings of self-efficacy. If you use that time wisely, such as going to meetings, going to therapy, getting some exercise, and so on, that will further reduce anxiety.


Second, having a regular routine means you will generally know what you can expect from each day. Of course, we don’t have total control over what will happen but most days you will have a general idea. And just having a reasonable expectation that you know what the day will be like can reduce your anxiety about it.


A Routine Keeps You Busy, but Not Too Busy


When you’re recovering from addiction, especially early on, you want to strike a good balance. You want to stay busy enough that you don’t feel bored, restless, or lonely but you don’t want to be so busy that you feel stressed and overwhelmed. Having a routine gives you a baseline of activity to prevent long stretches of idleness and it also helps you meet your responsibilities in a more or less organized way.


A Routine Boosts Conscientiousness


Conscientiousness is perhaps the single most important personality trait related to substance use issues. A number of studies have found that people with substance use issues typically score high on neuroticism and low on conscientiousness. Although high neuroticism is associated with mental health challenges such as major depression, anxiety disorders, and others, it appears that people who are high in neuroticism and also high in conscientiousness are relatively protected against substance use issues. 


One way to boost conscientiousness is to have a regular routine. We all live on a spectrum somewhere between rigid order and total chaos. If you have struggled with substance use issues, you are more likely toward the chaotic end. Imposing a bit of order on your life in the form of a regular routine can help you make progress on your recovery goals, keep your commitments, and generally feel like you have life more under control. 


How to Establish a Routine


If you’re not generally an organized person, you may not even know how to begin establishing a regular routine. One way is to enter an inpatient addiction treatment program. Most of your time will be structured and you will have to devote very little effort to create a routine. After 30 or 90 days of this, you may not be locked into the treatment routine but it shouldn’t be very hard to continue with some of the main things like when you get up, when you eat, when you go to meetings, and so on.


If you have to create a routine from scratch, the key is to start by creating anchor points. So, for example, your first anchor point might be going to a 12-Step meeting at a regular time each day. If you need a reason to get out of bed, see if you can find an earlier meeting. Another good place to start is with a regular wake-up time. This helps ensure you start your day in about the same place, rather than rushing to catch up on some days. Starting with a regular wake-up time will probably make you go to bed a bit earlier without even trying because you’ll be tired.


Once you’ve established some anchor points of things you do every day, or most days, you can begin to add new things. So, for example, if you decide you want to exercise regularly, start by connecting it to one of your anchor points, perhaps getting out of bed. Another point about adding things to your routine is that you should start small. So instead of jumping out of bed and running 10 miles, you might start by getting up and walking for five minutes or even just getting out of bed and putting on your exercise clothes, even if you don’t do any exercise at all. Then, once that connection is established, build the new behavior gradually. It’s also best to only add one new thing at a time and give yourself time to get used to it.


A routine is an important part of addiction recovery. It makes healthy decisions easier, it reduces anxiety, it structures your day, and it makes you more conscientious. You can build a routine gradually, starting with anchor points, or you can enter an inpatient treatment program, which will help you establish a daily routine more quickly. 


At Enlightened Solutions, we know that recovery from addiction isn’t just a matter of abstaining from drugs and alcohol, but rather about creating a happier, more fulfilling life. To learn more about our treatment options, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.