Newfound sobriety and life outside the rehabilitation facility are often overwhelming for the former alcoholic. There’s no denying it, you no longer have the “safe haven” of the bottle to reach for whenever there’s something you find disagreeable with the world around you. At the same time, since alcohol abuse used to constitute a major part of your daily schedule, you’ll find that now there are several gaps that have to be filled.
While your life may appear to lack structure and direction at this point, establishing a routine can change all that. Just don’t allow yourself to develop an unhealthy fixation with it!
How to Create a Daily Routine
Basically, scheduling your time correctly implies performing your normal activities within pre-established periods of the day. Start with the simple things, like setting your alarm clock to the same time every day – maybe give yourself an extra hour of sleep on weekends – and tucking yourself into bed at 11:00 PM. Perform your hygiene “ritual” first thing when you wake up and before you go to sleep. Make room in your schedule for at least one hour dedicated exclusively for your hobbies. Spend quality time with your family right afterwards. Attend the meetings held by your local support groups in the evening. You see where this is going, right?
It doesn’t really matter how you decide to arrange each interval as long as you are able to stick with the routine and there is no extensive unallocated period of time between the activities. You will want to stave off feelings of boredom and loneliness at all costs, because they are some of your worst enemies in early sobriety.
Don’t Fixate on the Schedule Too Much!
Granted, when you compile the list of activities in your routine, they have to follow a pattern that you can commit to, without creating conflicts of interest. For instance, the routine has to take into account the house chores that fall under your responsibility, which may already have preset times that can’t be altered (taking your kids to school, fixing broken appliances, etc.).
Remain flexible in case of unexpected events and keep in mind that the world does not revolve around your routine, but vice versa.
The routine should never feature the same exact list of activities every day of the week, every week of the month, every month of the year. Alternate between the ones that are interesting and the one that are not as much, but have to be done anyhow in order to avoid boredom.
What SHOULDN’T be Part of the Routine?
You can start by crossing off the list all activities that you associate with alcohol because they have the potential to constitute triggers. Jogging on a route that takes you by your favorite bar, spending too much of your time in the company of former drinking buddies, binge eating to suppress the craving for alcohol or engaging in activities with high potential for addiction (computer games, for instance) should be avoided altogether.
Remember that your new routine should help you start off with a clean slate, not expose you to the same way of life or possibly set you down the path of a different addiction!