A day late! But not a dollar short. My post for this week about safe coping strategies is about:
Structure your day. A productive schedule keeps you on track and connected to the world.
I like the idea behind this one, but truthfully I need some work on it myself. It can be way too easy, especially for an addict, to check out, to not care about getting things done, to not feel the need to be productive.
But then the next day, I always regret all that lost time. And it also doesn’t do great things for your addiction to isolate yourself and let your mind wander. There’s that old adage about idle hands, I think the same holds true for an addict with an idle mind. And time to kill.
Setting a schedule and structuring your day might seem daunting at first, I know it was for me. In rehab, they gave me this grid. Every hour from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., every day of the week, had it’s own box. And I had to fill it up. All of it!
It was a great exercise though. It made me really understand where my blocks of free time were, the times that could get me into trouble. And that have gotten me into some trouble since I’ve been home. I’ve learned that whenever I don’t know what to do with myself, I find that schedule and I see what I’m supposed to be doing during that time.
The idea is not to overbook yourself, or have such a packed schedule that you don’t have time for everything. I found in the beginning that I lost sight of the fact that other things still needed to get done, like the occasional chore around the house, or the odd doctor’s appointment for one of my kids.
The idea is also not that you need to stick to the schedule like glue. One of my counselors in rehab said the phrase, “Nothing is set in stone.” probably 6,000 times while I was there. You don’t have to become one of those people that does the same thing at the same time every day.
But, you should have a plan. Don’t get too comfortable with the idea that things are good. Your addiction can roar at you anytime, anyplace. Even if you feel really aware of your triggers. Because I know that for me, some triggers are happening subconsciously. You need to know what you will do if (when) those triggers show up.
Living a structured life is key for people in recovery. The structure should be different than it was before, and it should be specific, and you should follow a schedule the best you can. This will help you avoid falling back into old patterns, which will lead to a relapse.
Structure helps you move forward, and make the kinds of changes you need to make in order to get, and stay, recovered.