After you complete addiction treatment and return home, you might feel like a lot is being thrown at you. The demands of work, family and friends can feel like too much, especially when you’re in the early stages of recovery and are still practicing your coping skills. Without a new set of priorities to help you navigate life after addiction, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. This article covers a few of the ways to reprioritize your life in recovery.
Keep It Simple
The early weeks and months of recovery are often the hardest, and it’s best to eliminate all but the most critical activities from your to-do list for the first 90 days. Having too many projects, chores or other duties on your plate may leave you frustrated and stressed, and that’s when you’re most likely to have a slip in your recovery.
Each day, ask yourself what is absolutely essential for you to accomplish that day. If you’re not sure about a particular task, it’s probably not mandatory. With a simplified schedule, you’ll have less stress and more time to reinforce your coping skills.
Put Meetings First
Addiction treatment professionals agree that the value of a support system in recovery cannot be underestimated.1 Whether you choose to participate in a 12-step program or attend another support group, you should make these meetings a non-negotiable priority. There’s no rule that says you need to stick to one meeting location or meeting time—try different times or locations to find the people and setting that makes you feel most comfortable.
You may even need to double up on meetings if you’re going through a tough time and feel a potential lapse coming on. The road to recovery isn’t meant to be a solo journey. It’s easier to stay on the right track when you have the support of people who share the same challenges and goals.
Nourish Your Body and Mind
One of your key priorities in early recovery should be making sure you’re meeting your nutritional needs and getting enough sleep. Your body is probably still recovering from the stresses of addiction, and you may be dealing with some physical conditions resulting from your substance abuse.
Start by keeping your pantry and refrigerator stocked with good, nutritious foods—fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, meats, seafood and pasta. Your goal should be three healthy meals per day, to keep your energy levels balanced all day long. If you haven’t cooked much in the past, skip the complicated recipes and prepare quick, simple meals.
Life after addiction is all about new beginnings, and knowing how to reprioritize your life will help you steer this new life in the right direction. As Stephen Covey said in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “The key is not to prioritize what is on your schedule; the key is to schedule your priorities.”2 With a firm set of priorities to guide your actions, you can control the direction that your life takes and achieve your recovery goals.