Now that school is out for the summer I find chaos is ruling my home. I am told that this is a good thing, it gives us a break allows us to be free and do what we want. But is it really such a good thing? “Variety is the spice of life “or “The essence of pleasure is spontaneity”, we have been persuaded to believe that variety and spontaneity make for a happy, enjoyable and fulfilled life, but such is not always the case. There is great value in predictability, as humans we crave it, and we achieve this when we establish and maintain our daily routines. From the instant we are born our lives are put on a specific routine, eating, sleeping, playdates, school, studying, work etc. When routines are established and become a consistent part of our lives they serve to not only lessen the stress in our lives but also gives order to chaos. Someone once asked the Dalai Lama what the secret to happiness was, and he replied with one word “routines”. Routines become so ingrained in our everyday lives that we perform them without thinking, they become an extension of ourselves and studies have shown that they are the foundation to a long life.
In the life of an addict or an alcoholic routines and schedules are absent, their very lives by definition are ruled by chaos. Once they have completed a detox or rehab program one of the greatest obstacles is how to deal with the challenges of everyday life and, for some it was this inability to deal with life’s ups and downs that drove them to abuse in the first place; without their chemical or their alcohol outlet they must find alternate ways to cope. Organizations such as The Oasis Addiction and Recovery Society in Toronto, run support programs to prepare recovering addicts for re-entry to the workforce ; one of their programs is directed towards helping a person in recovery create and establish a simple set of routines which provide comfort and support as well as, a tool with which to cope with life’s challenges. Routines can be as simple as:
Take a shower
Go to Work
Attend some sort of recovery group
Read / meditate/journal writing
Go to bed
As they master these basic routines, they can begin to include more activities that help reinforce and strengthen their recovery lifestyle.
Those who have experienced a measure of success in recovery have done so in part to including some sort of journal writing into their daily routine. By putting pen to paper the writer is forced to face his or her feelings furthermore, daily journaling helps to stem the flow of troubled thoughts which often plague the recovering addict. Writing becomes another tool by which a person in recovery uses to help deal with anxiety brought on by life’s stressors.
Routines however must remain balanced, full of positivity, be realistic and sustainable, over scheduling could be just as detrimental as not having any schedule at all. Furthermore routines that can lead to obsession and escapism should be avoided at all cost as it threatens sobriety. Activities such as OVER working, OVER eating, compulsively exercising or playing video games can and often are, used as a way to escape their feelings. While the recovering addict is not running towards an alcohol or chemical means of escape the behaviour is the same and will ultimately derail his or her recovery.
Best of Luck!
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