You might find that a large part of your recovery journey will rely on you creating new, healthier habits to stay away from old habits that you might have been toxic, self-destructive, harmful to those around you, or potentially trigger you to abuse substances. It often takes hard work to get rid of negative habits, and forming positive habits can be frustrating. Creating new habits means making healthy choices, resisting the urge to sink back into what’s familiar, and taking active steps to help you reach your goals.
Everyone’s recovery journey is different, so the healthy habits you form in your journey might be different from someone else’s. If someone is taking a different path during their recovery, remember that there are multiple ways to have a successful recovery. Just because someone does things differently doesn’t mean you have to change your process for reaching your goals. What matters is that your process works for you. Along your recovery journey, you will discover the best way for you to create the right habits that will help you reach your goals and have a successful recovery.
Setting Goals and Identifying Habits
Creating healthy habits will help you achieve your goals and can lead to having a successful recovery. It’s good to know what your goals are before making any big changes in your life. Make a plan. Think about the big picture and what you want in the long run. Then break down your bigger goals into smaller, achievable goals. Focus on your goals that you can act on immediately and realistically achieve to prevent you from becoming too overwhelmed by all the possible steps that it may take to achieve your long-term goals. Focusing on too many goals at once may detract from your progress.
Next, you’ll want to identify habits that will help you reach both your long- and short-term goals. This could include going to bed on time and getting enough sleep, connecting with your friends and family weekly, or starting your day by reciting positive mantras. To create positive habits, you must identify any negative habits that might be working against your goal.
Generally, when we think about forming habits, we think of changing routine behaviors. For example, it may be routine for someone to eat an apple every day, check his or her email, take a walk in the park, and read before bed. However, behavioral habits are influenced by your thoughts, which can also settle into a routine. For instance, it may become a routine for someone to practice positive or negative self-talk and thought patterns.
Maintaining a Schedule and Staying Organized
Once you know the steps you need to take to achieve your goals and what negative habits you must change, you’ll want to create a plan that will help you stay on track. The best way to introduce something new into your routine is by creating a schedule. Changing old habits requires you to be actively conscious of what you want to change in your routine. Having a schedule puts the new habits you want to create at the forefront. It also allows you to see the type of work you’ll have to put in to create this new habit and make it easier for you to tell how realistic your plan is for changing old habits or introducing new ones.
Organizing your schedule and prioritizing your goals may prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and allow you to concentrate on forming one habit at a time. No one can do everything at once, and change takes time. Organizing your goals and habits will help you achieve them by making it easier to stay focused on more simple tasks. It may also be helpful to track your thoughts, successes, and setbacks around forming new habits so that you can adjust your plan accordingly.
Being Flexible and Patient
Whenever we change our routine, it takes time for it to become second nature, and sometimes our plans to create new habits don’t pan out how we thought they would. Don’t beat yourself up if your plan didn’t go as perfectly as you hoped. It’s okay if you have setbacks as long as you can be flexible and readjust your plan. It might be helpful to create a schedule that has some flexibility built into it so that if you realize you aren’t making progress with your new habit, you’ll be able to brainstorm new strategies and adjust your plan accordingly. Make sure to check in with yourself once in a while and remind yourself that if you aren’t making progress on forming your new habit, changes can be made. The faster you notice the problem, the sooner you can adjust, and the easier it will be to stay focused on your goals.
Creating new habits also requires patience because forming habits takes hard work. It isn’t easy to get yourself out of a bad routine, and it’s going to take time. Try to be kind to yourself when you encounter a setback. Remember that one setback doesn’t negate any other progress that you’ve made, and remind yourself that it’s okay to go at your own pace.
Changing unhealthy cognitive or behavioral habits is a large undertaking that requires organization, flexibility, and patience. Creating new, healthy habits will help you reach your goals and have a successful recovery. Remember that everyone’s path to recovery is different, and you should stick to a plan that helps you with your progress.
At Shoreline Recovery Center, we believe in creating a community that fosters a positive environment for setting and reaching goals and creating a healthy routine. Our professionals like to work closely with their clients to build a unique treatment plan to the person’s needs and help the person make healthier choices. No one should have to go through these life changes alone, and Shoreline can provide you with an encouraging community and support system to help you through your journey. If you or a loved one is suffering from substance use disorder or any other type of mental illness, please call (866) 278-8495 for more information about our programs.