Addiction throws life into complete chaos. Becoming intoxicated steals the spotlight of any other priority. Making plans with family and friends becomes impossible as the day is preoccupied with seeking out substances and using. Hygiene and physical fitness drop to the bottom of the to-do list, if it makes the list at all. Maintaining healthy sleeping and eating habits? Forget about it! In the presence of a drug or alcohol addiction, activities involving a wholesome daily routine fall to the wayside.
As you probably remember, days and nights in residential treatment were highly structured. You woke up and went to sleep at certain times. Therapies and 12-Step group meetings were pre-scheduled and required your faithful attendance. There are good reasons this was in place. This article will discuss how you can create a daily routine around three essential healthy habits: proper and adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise.
Why Routine Was Key in Treatment
Addiction causes changes in the brain that can lead to memory and impulse control problems, impaired learning capabilities, and difficulties employing good judgment or making sound decisions. These changes are what made your behavior impulsive and your life unpredictable.
As a result, establishing a strict routine was central to your treatment program. It helped you learn how to cope with this instability and organize your activities. Routine has been key to helping you manage restlessness, anxiety, and boredom – which are all common but precarious symptoms in early recovery. All this time, your mind and body have been re-learning what healthy habits look and feel like.
Even long after you’ve overcome addiction, your routine should keep you motived, focused, and disciplined so you can fulfill your life goals. By critically evaluating your sleeping, nutrition, and exercise habits, you can create a healthy daily routine that keeps you on track in recovery. Day by day, your brain will learn to predict these behaviors, and recovery will get easier.
Establish Regular Sleep Patterns
The amount of sleep an individual needs varies from person to person; however, adults generally need about 7-8 hours of sleep per night. A good night’s rest is not just defined by the quantity but the quality of sleep. Do you sleep straight through until morning, or are you frequently disturbed? Do you consistently go to sleep at the same time, or does it fluctuate?
Establishing a regular sleep pattern is as basic a human need as eating and breathing. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is a common public health problem in the U.S., with about 7-19% of adults reporting they experience it. This can cause a variety of physical and mental ailments, including heart and kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, depression, and anxiety.
Focus on Proper Nutrition & Hydration
Using drugs or alcohol can deplete your body of essential nutrients and lead to dehydration. Alcohol use, in particular, reduces the body’s ability to absorb B vitamins. Vitamin B deficiencies can result in serious physical and mental health problems like anemia, nervous system dysfunction, cognitive difficulties, mood changes, irritability, and insomnia.
Other deficiencies have been discovered in individuals with substance use disorders, including vitamin D, omega-3, calcium, and acetyl-l-carnitine. These deficiencies have been linked to a range of other problems, including brain abnormalities, schizophrenia, psychotic symptoms, heart muscle weakness, confusion, aggressive behaviors, and suicidal tendencies.
Replenishing your body with foods high in antioxidants, fiber, and both pre- and probiotics will help you get back to health and avoid these health conditions. Don’t forget about drinking lots of water, as men are recommended to drink anywhere from 13-15 cups of water per day.
However, this figure is highly flexible and depends on your level of physical activity and other factors. A good rule of thumb is to drink when you feel thirsty or hungry. Sometimes people confuse hunger with thirst.
Find a Physical Activity You Enjoy
Staying active has tremendous benefits for your physical and mental health. The CDC reports that exercise can:
- improve your sleep patterns
- reduce short-term feelings of anxiety
- reduce your risk of depression and anxiety disorders
- maintain your thinking, learning, and judgment skills as you age
Although it may be hard to get back into the swing of exercising, the benefits are well worth the effort. Spend some time thinking about physical activities that get your blood pumping. How do you feel about running or weightlifting? Do you ever play sports, or would you rather exercise alone?
Some people hit the gym while others hit the play button on workout videos they can follow in the comfort of their home or sober living program. Whatever activities you decide on, don’t forget to pencil them into your schedule!
Structure is a critical component of addiction treatment because it keeps you focused and motivated towards your recovery goals. Incorporating proper and adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise habits are key to developing a healthy routine that facilitates your success in recovery. This teaches your mind and body to expect certain behaviors. At Renaissance Ranch, we know how difficult it is to come out of the structured environment of treatment and face the world head-on. Our outpatient sober living program provides a safe and structured environment where you can live comfortably while enrolled in our outpatient program. Sober living is designed to keep you preoccupied with self-development and improvement and hold you accountable for your sobriety. If you’ve been through treatment and are looking for some structure to ease you back into independent living, this program might be perfect for you. Call Renaissance Ranch at (801) 308-8898 to learn how we can help you.