Taking the first steps to living sober can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task. Facing reality directly, without your usual escape means having to develop new coping mechanisms.
One thing that can make the adjustment easier is setting routines, or a prescribed detailed course of action you follow regularly. Having a steady routine provides structure and comfort, allowing you to gain more control over what you do with each day. Here are some routines that can be especially helpful in your early recovery.
1) Organizing your environment and schedule
A chaotic environment increases stress and makes things feel unmanageable. Taking a little bit of time to make your living space clean, organized, and inviting can be a small but significant way to make your life more manageable. Get rid of what you don't need, put what you do in a logical place, and keep your home environment clean and well maintained.
Another way to reduce stress and bring order to life is in the way you spend your time. Too many duties, projects, or appointments can lead to a lot of stress. Especially in early recovery, try to eliminate all but the essential from your life. Break down tasks into manageable pieces, so you can reward yourself with feelings of accomplishment by focusing on only the one or two things that are important for the day.
2) Taking care of your health
Adjusting your body back from a lifestyle of substance dependence can be exhausting. At first, you may feel very fatigued, week, or even sick. Your central focus in early recovery should be restoring, and then maintaining your health.
A pattern of going to sleep at the same time each night, and waking up 7-9 hours later will give you an adequate amount of energy to face each day awake and enthusiastic. Your health and mood will also dramatically improve if you eat three meals of nutrient-rich foods a day.
A well balanced diet should include lots of fruits and vegetables, lean meats and seafood, and whole grain bread, rice, and pasta. Regular exercise can also be an important way to treat your body well and find the enjoyment in life that will keep anxiety and cravings down.
3) Time for reflection
Honest self-reflection is an important part of learning how to move on from the mistakes of your past, live your best sober life possible in the present, and plan for a purposeful future. At the end of each day, take some time to think through your thoughts, feelings, and actions, to see how you handled struggles, and what you did that made you feel either better or worse. Think about the "highlight" and "lowlight" of each day, so that you can practice living each moment in mindful self-awareness, and think about ways you still need to grow.
4) Time for gratitude
It can be easy to focus only on the hard parts of sobriety, and have an unrealistically bleak picture of each moment as filled with struggle. It is so easy to get so caught up in day-to-day routines that we don't take adequate time to think about the good things in our lives.
Taking time to think about what you can be thankful for allows you to acknowledge your success and accomplishments. Even if the day has felt hard or frustrating, spending some time focusing on the things that did go right will give you a greater sense of hope to face tomorrow.
5) Making connections with others
Maintaining sobriety and rebuilding life from addiction is hard work, but it can be immensely easier if you are open to the advice, support, and encouragement of others. A support group of people also in recovery can hold you accountable to your commitments, help you think through new ways of doing things, and encourage you that hope is possible.
Beyond your group, making connections with family and friends can help you find enjoyment and a sense of purpose in your life, and their encouragement can help you see that change is possible.