One of the very first things that I ask clients when they haven’t seen me for some time, is “what’s happening to your routine?” Why? Because routine, or rather lack of it, is one of the top contributors to relapse.  As outlined in the Dynamics of Relapse Triggers, one of the major contributors to becoming unhealthy, and then relapsing, is that ‘I stop doing the things that kept me clean and sober.”

Routine captures all the things that keep me healthy and allows for a solid platform to springboard from. It allows us to create a life that we want to live and it allows our life to work.

The best routine you can design consists of two things: things that keep me healthy and things that I love doing.

So, if we look at things that keep me healthy, the first place to start would be your sleep patterns.  Funnily enough, a good routine starts from what time we go to sleep.

To work out the best sleep patterns, you need to first identify what your magic number of sleep hours is to wake up refreshed.  Then deduct that from your wake-up time. So if you decide to wake up at 5 am each morning, and you need 8 hours of sleep, then you need to go to bed at 9 pm.

The second thing to start looking at is what’s happening with your diet.  Are you having three meals a day?  Are you eating properly or are you missing meals?  We do know that diet affects mood and our mental health.  When you’re starving your body, you’re more prone to feeling anxious and scattered.  When you overeat, your metabolism slows right down and you feel sluggish, drained, and fatigued. Because your body needs to take extra effort to process all of that food you just dumped in there!

The third cornerstone of a good routine is exercise – which is the best form of mental health therapy you’ll ever get. It creates endorphins and all those feel-good chemicals in our body that make us naturally feel great.  Exercise grounds us and our thoughts slow down.  Everything slows back down to the speed of life and we’re able to reset.  Exercise is absolutely imperative to a healthy lifestyle.

The fourth cornerstone is how I start the day and what tone I set for the day.  How do I immediately commit to my healthiness, as a top priority, from the moment I awaken.  Do I meditate for ten minutes each morning?  Is it belly breathing?  Or mindfulness?  Or journal writing?  One of my favorite things to do is to wake up and look at my Pinterest mood boards that contain all the inspiring quotes I want to remember each day.

Another major cornerstone is work or study. It gives us a sense of purpose and a reason to get out of bed and enact your routine.  It gives you a sense of accomplishment and guess what, you’re creating something. You’re earning money and you’re achieving self-reliance.  You can get healthier than that!

And how do I want to close each day?  What’s my wind-down routine?  Do I want to allocate 15 minutes writing my to-do list so it gets it out of my head onto paper?  Or my personal favorite is writing an anger letter, or two!  Guaranteeing that I’ll sleep like a baby!

The other part of this equation is things that I love doing.  So many of my clients used to complain about having an empty or boring life. My response always is, “it’s only that way because you designed it that way”.  If you want to design a work-life that works for you, you need to include things that you love doing. Life is meant to be about living, about having fun and experiencing the fulness that life has to offer.

So, when we start looking at things that I love doing, it can include things like fishing or camping or kite surfing or water sports or kayaking or exercise it can include crochet or playing a musical instrument.  If you’re stuck on ideas, think about what you used to love doing when you were a kid and start from there.  And if you’re still finding it hard to come up with ideas, email me and ask for a copy of the 109 different ideas for you to have a look at.

Sometimes people say, “but I love spending time with my family, does that count?”  It’s a great start, but you need to do things for you first, then your relationship and then your family.

Because family is also an important part of our routine, consider what sort of experiences you want to create.  What sort of memories do you want to create in your family? What do you want your kids to remember? Then include that in your list of Things I Love Doing.

The final step in creating a routine is to then map all of the things that you’ve just listed into a routine.

  • Start with a blank piece of paper sketch out seven days, Monday through to Sunday.
  • Then start with your sleeping hours first.  So, how many hours do you need to what time you waking up in the morning What time do you need to go to bed?
  • Then slot in the big chunks that you have as commitments. For example, put your work or study, or family time into your routine. For example, if you’re working from seven to three, put that in. And then cross that off your list.
  • Chunk out any other commitments. Do you have sporting commitments? Put those in.  Do you have your kids on certain days of the week? Put those in.  Is something important to you that you need to schedule? Put that in.  Do you have a date night with your partner?  Definitely put that in!
  • Then start actively entering in all the things that keep you healthy and things that you love doing. And every time you schedule one in check it off on your list until you’ve pretty much got everything in there.
  • Now, take a breath, step back, and have a look at your routine.  What do you notice?  Where are the gaps?  Is there too much scheduled? Then prioritize and take some things out. Because you also need me time.

Remember, this is not about scheduling your day in six-minute increments – unless you’re an accountant! This is about designing a life that works for you and creates stability and peace, not one that creates stress.

Once you have all of this mapped out, then the next step is to implement it.

Start tonight …. So what time do you need to go to bed?!

Comment in the box below about your commitment to re-establishing your routine. Let me know how you’re traveling with your routine, or how you’re going with re-establishing your routine.  I’d love to hear how you’re finding this.

All the very best, Tabitha


If you or a family member are experiencing issues with addiction of any kind, please reach out.  We would love to chat to you. We are here to support not judge.

By Phone      1300 766 925

Email              info@whitehavenclinic.com.au

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