Completing addiction rehabilitation is an amazing feat, and with your new sobriety, life is full of possibilities. However, sometimes the “real world” can seem a bit daunting after having such dedicated, uninterrupted time to focus solely on your wellness. So we have some suggestions for how to ease into routines and be deliberate in crafting your future after treatment.
One: Pace Yourself
Even the most experienced marathon runner doesn’t push for 26 miles the first day after a long break. Whether you completed addiction treatment at an inpatient facility or gradually worked through an outpatient program, you now have a revised perspective on so many aspects of life. So, as you return to daily activities beyond rehab, consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which are, from the ground up:
- Physiological—the absolute basics, such as clothing, food, shelter, and so on
- Safety—expanding to health, employment, personal security, and other resources
- Love and belonging—family, friendship, and a stronger sense of connection
- Esteem—freedom, personal worth, respect
- Self-actualization—a desire to become everything you possible can
Meeting needs one through three in your new phase of life definitely reinforce how well four and five come together, but even then, you have to move slowly and steadily while building each stage after treatment.
Two: Take One Step Fully, Then Another
Even if you’re not part of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or other types of 12-Step programs, the philosophy of “one day at a time” really applies when you’re in early recovery. Every recovery support group provides a framework that allows you manage expectations more successfully and avoid being “flooded” by all the newness. And if you have to return to a previous step to process it with a clearer perspective, that’s okay, too.
Three: Slowly Seek Out Ways to Mend Relationships
For many people, addiction fractures families, friendships, and healthy boundaries. Sometimes individuals have to make amends. Others find effective healing through family therapy. And it’s also possible that the best way to come to terms with a damaged relationship is to remove toxic influences from your life. Little by little, you’ll create more stable, nurturing connections.
Four: Speaking of Connections, Make Some!
Shared experiences truly make recovery much more successful. You don’t have to explain anything—your sober network totally gets it. All of it! Alumni from your treatment center, individuals in continuing care support groups, and other people dedicated to your health help you recalibrate when the compass deviates from true north. More importantly, they provide the necessary assurance that you’re never alone on this treatment journey.
Five: Develop Routines and Rituals That Matter
Meaningful routines and rituals help ground you, define your intentions, and give you strength. For example, focusing on improving sleep hygiene reduces stress and provides essential energy, and a spiritual or mindfulness practice creates a center of peace. Whatever speaks to you, make it the foundation of daily life.
Six: Make Sobriety Easier with Better Nutrition
You might have been introduced to a whole-foods diet while in rehab—and there’s no need to stop now! Explore how good nutrition not only improves your health but also helps you curb cravings, too.
Seven: Boost Your Exercise Routine, Too
Without a doubt, consistent movement is the most effective way to spark your natural feel-good brain chemicals such as endorphins and dopamine, and it benefits whole-person health in numerous ways.
Eight: Get Outside!
Nature is always a healing elixir and provides a buffer to habits such as dwelling on negative thoughts (also known as rumination or “brooding”). Studies also indicate that as little as 30 minutes outside daily reduces anxiety and pain, enhances feelings of calm, and improves focus.
Nine: Follow New Interests
Remember those possibilities we talked about earlier? With sober living, you have the opportunity to design your life by choosing to stay busy with interests and activities that matter to you. Pick up a new hobby, travel to places that intrigue you, pursue a passion project—you’re in control now, so what sparks different ideas and ways of thinking?
Ten: Find Ways to Show Gratitude and Give Back
As we focus on maintaining sobriety, sometimes it’s all we can handle, and that’s fine. While doing so, set aside a few minutes each day to write down three things you’re grateful for and why. This helps support an attitude that healthy living has value to you. Over time, you can reinforce what you’ve learned and foster a better sense of community by helping others. Research indicates that giving back in recovery provides more meaning in all aspects of your life.
Willingway’s Whole-Person Approach
As you can see, our suggestions for real world re-entry center on all aspects of your being. While addiction is a brain disease, we believe healing involves emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual balance. Read some of our other blog posts to learn more about finding yours.