Building Healthy Recovery Habits

February 7, 2017

Motivation gets you started; habits keep you goingA big part of recovery is breaking the old habits that reinforced addiction and replacing them with healthy habits that support recovery. Some aspects of breaking these “bad habits” can be incredibly emotionally difficult, such as cutting ties with old friends that you drank or used with. Other habits can change by simply developing a new routine. Now that you’re clean and sober with healthier mind and body, you can start to focus on routine changes that will help you stay that way.

Diet & Exercise
Chances are that when you were drinking or using, you weren’t taking great care of your body; you probably didn’t eat well or exercise often. Luckily, these are two habits that are fairly easy to incorporate into your daily life. Set aside part of your week to plan your meals. You don’t have to adhere to a strict calorie count or a crazy restrictive fad diet, but you can make planning and eating a part of your routine. Food is fuel for body, so eat nutritious, but eat what you like.  Employ the same mindset when it comes to exercise. Do what you like and what will fits in your life. You don’t have to become a marathon runner or an Olympic power lifter. You’ll reap benefits from even just a daily walk around the block or a couple of days a week weight training at the gym.

Healthful Sleep
Develop a healthy bedtime routine. Decide on a reasonable time to go to bed and a reasonable time to wake up. Start to wind down—turn off ALL electronic devices (mobile phone, tablet, computer, TV, radio)—at least an hour before your bedtime. The blue light emitted from electronic screens suppresses melatonin and makes it harder to fall asleep. In addition, the constant stimulus makes it harder for you to relax. Incorporate small tasks, like setting the coffee maker or making your lunch for the next day, into your nighttime routine that will make your morning routine easier. Make a cup of hot tea and spend a few minutes journaling or reflecting in your day. Allow your mind to settle down and relax so that you can sleep more restfully.

Get Interested
In anything. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try your hand at calligraphy or knitting. Maybe you really do want to become a marathon runner. Maybe you absolutely love to cook and want to develop seven-course meals for every dinner. Go for it. Find that thing that fills the space in your life that used to be taken up by drugs and alcohol. If there’s no particular skill or activity that interests you, try volunteering. Perhaps the thing that fulfills you most is giving back.  Whatever you choose, build these activities into your weekly routine. If you make space for them, they’re more likely to become part of your lifestyle rather than imposition.

Go To Meetings
Perhaps it goes without saying, but go to meetings. In addition to exercise, diet, and sleep, you need solid emotional support as well. Meetings can start to fill the social void left when you stopped drinking and using.  And luckily, meetings are pretty easy to incorporate into your schedule. They only last an hour, there’s at the very least one in your community every day, and more than likely several a day and at varying times.

It takes time to create and establish new habits, and some are going to be harder than others. Allow yourself room to feel things out and tweak if necessary. No novel ever went to the publisher at first draft. Give yourself grace while you establish your new routine.  Remember, you’ve already kicked the hardest habit there is, the rest is a piece of cake in comparison.