Reclaim Control of Your Life with a Solid Routine

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Reclaim Control of Your Life with a Solid Routine

Routine and structure are often discussed as pillars in addiction recovery. Building a routine can feel challenging when we are accustomed to a loose structure in our lives. We might let ourselves sleep in rather than get up at the same time. We may “fly by the seat of our pants” and plan everything at the last minute. Many of us may have had our routines thrown off due to the pandemic lockdowns and restrictions imposed. We might be working at home or be unemployed and have difficulty using our time wisely. When our routine is disrupted, and we lack structure, we might be vulnerable to relapse behaviors. We can get control of our lives despite the current circumstances of COVD-19.

Acting “As If”

We can “fake” our way back into a routine by acting as if we are still going to work each day, even if our new office is a desk in our bedroom. If you are working from home, structure your day as if you are actually going into your workspace. Think about what your routine was each morning before going to work. Most people wake up, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and leave for the day. While working from home, many of us may have gotten used to not needing to shower first thing or remain in our pajamas. However, our minds then blend our home lives with our work lives. Try the following:

  • Wake up at your normal time, as if you were going to work.
  • Dress the same way that you would for work. This may seem silly, but even just putting on a name badge or uniform at home can help your mind separate “work time” from “home time.”
  • Take breaks at the same times that you normally would; try to take your breaks in a different part of your home if you can. 

Some of us lost our jobs or were furloughed for some time. We might be collecting unemployment or other compensation as we wait for things to turn around. If this is your situation, you can still act as if you have a routine. Find something to treat as your “job” to help you find purpose and a reason to keep moving each day:

  • Build job skills by taking classes or learning new things from free online videos.
    • There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that can teach you new skills for free, like computer software programs, technical writing, or leadership skills.
    • Update your resume and schedule time to search and apply for new jobs.
  • When work time is over, it is over!
    • You might feel tempted to open work emails or other projects during your designated “home” time. 
    • Even if your workspace and home space are the same, once your workday is over, separate yourself to delineate the difference.
    • If you enjoyed winding down with a drive after work, think about what you enjoyed most. Did you enjoy the scenery? The music or talk-radio programs? Take time to go for a walk or listen to music or podcasts to transition back to home life.
  • Think of this as a time to build upon your interests and hobbies.
    • Maybe you enjoy writing and want to dedicate time each day to writing or learning a musical instrument.
    • Set aside time each day to focus on your interests to keep you moving throughout the day and concentrate on something positive.

Checking In With Yourself

Journaling can be a great way to check-in with yourself as you deal with these changes. Dedicate time each day to spend a few minutes writing to “check-in” and talk with yourself about how things are going in your life. You can build a routine with these check-ins by completing them at the same times each day, like morning, mid-day, and bedtime. Journaling and mindfully writing out some of your feelings throughout the day can help keep you grounded. You can also start to notice when you are slipping in your routine or feeling tempted by addiction. The earlier that you catch these potential pitfalls, the easier it will be to get yourself back on track.

Schedule Time for Fun

We might feel that we are unable to have fun during this pandemic. We might find our social lives lacking and long for connection with our friends. Set up some routine times to call friends or family members. Get together with friends over video conferencing or on conference calls. We all need to find fun right now, and that might be challenging. However, if we adapt to the circumstances, we can find ways to adjust and create a feeling of normalcy during abnormal times.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many of our routines as we struggle to find normalcy in abnormal times. We can continue to build the structure that we need to maintain our mental health and keep our cravings at bay. If you were unemployed or furloughed during this time, you can schedule a time to search for jobs or learn new skills as if this is your new “job.” Continue your routine as much as you can, even dressing up for work. Work uniforms and attire can be mental cues for us to separate our “work” life from our “home” life, even if we are currently working from home. With all of the changes occurring, many of us continue to struggle and feel stress. We might need support to help us if we fear a relapse is near. The Kimberly Center is here for those who are struggling. We are continuing to operate safely and provide support for those in recovery. Call us today at (855) 452-3683.


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