After treatment, individuals need to build new routines that support their sobriety. Fortunately, most working professionals have a very routine life both at home and in the office. However, many of the routines and habits from before treatment need to be adjusted after treatment. This commonly includes managing stress, exercise habits, health habits, and work routines.
Building new routines and structure is challenging, and it takes time to work through habits both at home and at work. However, when working professionals take the time to make these changes, they begin to live a new and sober life with more ease. This grows from a strong foundation built in treatment and, over time, these routines become a normal part of their daily lives.
The Need for New Routines After Treatment
After treatment, individuals need to build a life that supports their sobriety. In general, this means creating new habits and routines. It is necessary to build these new routines because they help working professionals continue to prioritize sobriety after treatment, maintain support regularly, and help to reduce instability that can increase the risk of relapse.
After treatment, preventing relapse and maintaining sober needs to be a priority. However, humans are habitual creatures. Therefore, a priority one day can be forgotten the next. For working professionals returning home from treatment, it is easy to sink back into old patterns. This can include not caring for their needs, managing stress, or looking to old habits to get through a work day.
However, new routines help to keep sobriety a priority. When working professionals put their new routines first, they are putting their sobriety first. This will look different for each person, in terms of the types of new routines. However, the fact that these new routines are being focused on is incredibly important.
When working professionals return to their life after treatment, having an effective support network is vital. This can include family, friends, mental health professionals, and peer support. While support is not commonly thought about as a routine, building and maintaining relationships is part of a habit or routine. For example, if relationships are prioritized and part of a routine, individuals make time throughout their days and weeks to see other people and connect.
Building a new social routine after treatment is one way to engage with others, allowing individuals to get and give support regularly. This might look like a routine of attending peer support meetings or eating dinner with family. Regardless of the routine, having a new routine like this allows working professionals to share how they are doing and get the support that helps them to stay sober.
After treatment, working professionals experience an influx in their lives. They are at a point of great change. While this is an opportunity to build a new and sober life, it comes with many challenges, one of which is increased instability. Substance use has many negative effects. However, when consistent use became normal, drugs and alcohol were a routine part of life. While new routines are important, they can feel unstable when going through the process of change.
Building new routines helps individuals to feel more stable. They give someone an amount of structure and normality, so when there is a question of what to do, they can lean on these new routines to maintain sobriety. Additionally, these new routines help individuals to rebuild relationships, improve health, and increase self-respect as individuals get back to work. Research has shown that this helps with long-term sobriety, as it provides a deep incentive to stay sober since individuals have more to lose as their stability increases.
Areas of Life Where New Routines Are Necessary
During and after treatment, working professionals will improve their awareness of what aspects of their life have supported their substance use and abuse. Each individual will discover that they need to build new routines in these areas of life to support their recovery. Commonly, new routines are necessary to manage stress, improve exercise habits, better health habits, and adjust habits in and around work.
In modern times, working professionals are not strangers to stress. It has become a normal part of daily life for individuals in many different roles in professional work. While the type of stress may differ, having stress as a regular part of the day has become normal. However, stress is a known cause of addiction and unmanaged stress is known to increase the risk of relapse.
Therefore, it is important to build new daily routines that help with stress management. There are many types and ways to orient these routines, and every person will need to try out different options to see what is most effective for them. However, a common method to manage stress includes having a destressing daily or weekly ritual such as exercise or meditation. Additionally, it is helpful to build new routines immediately after stressful events such as taking a walk after an intense meeting or doing some deep breathing before moving on to the next project.
Getting consistent exercise is often challenging for working professionals. With the time spent in the office and the desire to spend time with family, exercise is often an afterthought. However, building an exercise routine after treatment plays an important role in staying sober.
Exercise is one way for individuals to heal and tap into the reward system in the brain. When a person exercises, their brain releases dopamine and serotonin. Both of which help to improve mood, energy, sleep rhythms, and overall mental health. Additionally, exercise is a great way to manage cravings by giving an individual something to do instead of reaching for substances to soothe the craving. Overall, an improved exercise routine helps working professionals manage stress while improving physical and mental health.
In addition to exercise routines, building better health routines is also important. Health routines can include stress management, social connections, healthy eating, sleep routines, and more. Improved and new routines that better a person’s overall health are often considered self-care techniques and, in recovery, they are very important for preventing relapse.
Research has found that relapse is not a one-step process. Instead, there are phases of relapse that include emotional relapse, mental relapse, and physical relapse. During the first phase, emotional relapse, individuals begin to stop routines that care for their needs such as going to peer support groups or eating healthy. In doing so, they set themselves up for relapse in the future. Therefore, by building and maintaining new routines around health, working professionals are improving their resistance and decreasing their risk of relapse in the future.
Every working professional has strong routines surrounding work. This can include when the hours they keep are, where they eat lunch, and how much work they plan to do on certain days. While some of these routines do not need to change, working professionals need to consider how their routines at work impact their sobriety. They will know they are not working if they increase stress or trigger any cravings for substance use.
Simple changes to work routines like packing a lunch, adjusting their schedule for bigger breaks between meetings, or changing work hours to prioritize support group meetings or family can make a big difference. These changes do not mean that working professionals are not prioritizing their jobs. Instead, it means that they are prioritizing their sobriety and understand that by staying sober they will be more successful in their career. Over time, individuals can find a balance that helps them to thrive at work without risking relapse.
How to Build New Routines
As humans, working professionals are creatures of routine. For example, it is common to eat lunch at the same place, order the same meal, or drive the same route to work. However, since building new routines is important after treatment, individuals must learn how to do so. Doing something new often seems simple. It is easy to think, far in advance, that a new diet or exercise schedule will simply become the norm. However, the process of building new routines is a cognitive process that takes time and energy.
Fortunately, some simple rules of thumb can help working professionals build new routines after treatment, and the skills they have from working as a professional will help them to create and maintain new routines that help them stay sober. This includes planning, taking small steps, and prioritizing consistency during the process of change.
Plan New Routines
Working professionals know that planning is internal to success. When approaching an important meeting or event, working professionals take the time to make a plan, decide on how they will approach the meeting, and then adjust it as they go. This same approach works very well for creating new routines. The planning starts with treatment. When an individual is in treatment for addiction, they will learn what parts of their life they may need to change. For example, they may learn about how stress has impacted their addiction. This will help provide the understanding that new routines around stress management are important in recovery.
A person’s plan for a new routine will look different in each situation. However, it often includes mapping out what it will look like on a daily or weekly basis. For example, a new exercise routine will ideally include how many days they will exercise. Additionally, it will include what time of day and what kind of exercise. Being specific about the plan is important because it gives working professionals parameters to stay in. As they move forward they can adjust this plan until it fits their needs.
When a person is considering changes in their lives, especially after treatment, it is easy to think big. However, building new habits and routines is a process. The new life that a person lives after treatment is not built in one day or one week. It is a step-by-step process that takes continual work and effort.
Therefore, while starting small is often counterintuitive for working professionals, it is helpful. Starting small gives working professionals a task that they can complete. When building new routines, this is very important. As they complete this task or routine consistently, it becomes a normal part of their day and lives. Essentially, it is a habit. This allows working professionals to make new routines a norm. Over time, they can then add more new routines that again become normal. In this fashion, working professionals are rebuilding their lives.
The term routine means a series of actions that are consistently done. For example, the routine of a person brushing their teeth means they brush their teeth at a normal time daily, such as when they wake up and before they go to bed. However, when building new routines after treatment, this consistency factor is easily forgotten. The idea of living a different life means having new routines. For many individuals, this can be very exciting and lead to many ideas coming up. Working professionals might see how they can change their health habits, work schedules, and social routines. However, consistency must be prioritized.
When a person prioritizes consistency, they are making their new routine a norm. The more a person can be consistent with the new routine, it becomes their normal way of doing things. This is why when a person prioritizes the consistency of their routine rather than the size of the change they make, they are actually building a new way of living, which is vital in successful long-term recovery.
Most working professionals have a very routine life, which often includes work and home routines. However, when recovering from addiction, they need to make adjustments to these routines in order to stay sober. This includes building new routines for work, health habits, exercise, stress management, and more. Recovery is an ongoing journey that changes over time. However, these new routines protect working professionals from relapse and provide structured support. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center, we understand that these skills are built off a solid foundation from treatment. We offer treatment for working professionals struggling with addiction and mental health disorders that gives clients the tools they need to succeed after treatment. To learn more, call (714) 492-1119.