Recovery programs all have unique outlooks and approaches. What they have in common, though, is that they all incorporate routines and structure into their programs. Treatment centers know the importance of routine and structure in recovery. Creating and sticking to a schedule can help people establish new norms, improve their mental and physical health, and assist them in exercising self-control.
Benefits of Structure
In most treatment programs, routines and structures are enforced by the facility. If you enter a treatment program, once you have returned to your daily life, it is important to build your own structure and routines. As you reenter your life, old habits that are highly ingrained may creep back up on you. Learning to live your life without the use of drugs and alcohol is multifaceted, and often means making new routines. Below we will outline specific ways that structure will benefit your recovery.
Structure to Build New Norms
Recovery is more than just abstaining from drugs and alcohol. In recovery, you have to make changes in multiple aspects of your life. Building new daily habits certainly can be challenging, but it’s essential. Research has found that one of the most impactful ways to make lifestyle changes is to build routine and structure. These habits in turn help you to stay true to your new patterns of behavior until they become easier. In recovery, this is particularly important.
The structure for new norms will look different depending on your needs. For example, at work, you may need to build new routines to manage stress. This could look like adding a daily walk at lunchtime or joining a meditation or yoga class. Regardless of what you choose, adding these activities generally creates a routine. You are more likely to attend a yoga or meditation class when you have it scheduled, especially when it hasn’t yet become habitual.
Improved Mental Health
By being consistent with your actions, you can greatly improve your mental health in multiple ways These new routines aid in buffering the negative impact of stressful events by providing healthier coping mechanisms. Routines can also help by encouraging practices that improve mental health such as sleep, nutrition, and exercise.
Improving Self-Control With Practice
Addiction is a serious disease that impacts how your brain functions. Learning to manage impulses and practice self-control can be challenging but is very important in recovery. As you encounter new situations, you may find yourself craving drugs or alcohol. You will need to be able to step away and make different choices that help you stay sober.
Research has found that self-control functions like a muscle. Small acts of self-control practiced over time can increase your capacity for self-control. While, historically, self-control has been considered a fixed value, we now know it is not. As you learn, grow, and change in the recovery process, maintaining a structured schedule aids in your ability to make different choices.
Aspects of Your Life Where Structure Can Help
While structure overall benefits recovery, there are certain areas of your life where having structure is particularly helpful. The workplace is one domain that is intimately involved with your mental and emotional health, and your general healthcare routines can also have a far-reaching effect. Below we will quickly discuss each area and the structures you could build within them.
Structure at Work
Multiple different types of structures at work are often helpful. Depending on your specific situation, it may look like structuring breaks into your day to decrease stress or organizing projects to decrease triggering interactions. Regardless of what it looks like, you can create structures at work that improve your recovery process.
For some, this may mean speaking with your boss or superior to make changes. Adjusting your schedule, changing project involvement, or even getting structured support are all options at work. If you find it challenging to create a new schedule alone, speaking with your mental health care professionals or human resources (HR) department at work are both great options.
Creating routines related to your health is very important and will look different for each individual. Structure related to your health can include the following areas:
- Nutritional habits
- Exercise routines
- Peer support groups
- Personal health and hygiene
- Trying new activities
It takes time to learn what kind of structure is helpful for you. Exploring what aspects of your life to structure and how it might look can help. You may want to consult with a friend or family member to get ideas about what might be most helpful and effective. Trying out different schedules for each day, week, and month will give you a better idea of what you like and what is helpful.
Start small by structuring one thing in your life. For example, you might first structure your work schedule, then expand from there into other areas of your life. Once you have experienced what is helpful, it will be easier to add structures to other aspects of your life. Remember, changes need to work for you. If they aren’t working, reach out for help and see if you can adjust what you’re doing to help yourself create a new, balanced, healthy, and sober life.
Effective treatment and recovery programs involve a certain amount of structure. While each program will differ, it is important to learn how to create and maintain structure in your work and home life. Over time you can find a level of structure that supports you. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center, we offer programs with varying levels of structure and support. While you address your addiction and mental health, you will have access to professionals and peers who are also in treatment. If you are looking for support and treatment, we can help. Call us today at (949) 426-7962 to learn about our programs and speak with a staff member about how we can help you.