Humans, by nature, are creatures of habit. We crave personal structure and routine. It is the small choices we make each day that create our path in life. Just like in recovery, habits and daily routines are a practice. It takes work and dedication for them to become a more natural part of daily life.
Kendrick Westmoreland knows the power of routines in recovery first-hand. Kendrick is the Clinical Director of Outpatient Services at The GateHouse, and he helps clients develop and maintain healthy habits to help sustain long-term recovery.
“I remember early on in recovery; I was sitting in a meeting where no one knew me,” Kendrick said. “At that moment, I realized that I could be whoever I want to be. I had a clean slate. I decided in that meeting that to become the person I wanted to be, I had to act like that person. I had to adopt the qualities of the person I wanted to become. That mindset changed everything for me.”
That mindset, for Kendrick, came down to the discipline of maintaining a healthy routine and holding himself accountable to see it through.
“For me, it started with making my bed every morning,” Kendrick said. “Years later, I still make my bed every morning. It’s a small routine but it’s been an important part of my recovery. It’s proven to me that I can make a change and stick to it.”
Sticking to Healthy Routines in Recovery Gets Easier When You Find the Right Routine for You
Recovery is different for everyone. The Outpatient Services team at The GateHouse helps clients determine the types of routines that will work best for them, then helps them create a plan to make the routine stick.
Here are a few of the practices that Kendrick and his team work through with our outpatient clients.
Choose Routines that Interest You
If you don’t like a routine, you aren’t going to stick with it. Start with your hobbies and interests. Choosing to practice and learn about a personal interest is a great foundation for a new daily routine.
“We each have different needs and interests, which is why there’s no one-size-fits-all routine roadmap,” Kendrick said. “Take the time to think about your interests and what’s going to motivate you to keep your routines going.”
Focus on Routines that Can Support You Now and Down the Road
In recovery, you’re always evolving. Look to add in a practice that supports your evolution. Journaling, learning a new skill, meditation, and reading are a few practices that are relatively easy to implement and can become lifelong hobbies.
Set Realistic Expectations
Our outpatient teams are always reminding our clients that routines, like long-term recovery, are a life-long practice.
There is a theory that if you commit to doing a task every day for 21 days it will become a habit, and if you commit to continuing that practice for 90 days you have created a routine. Sometimes it can be hard to envision life 90 days from now. Kendrick and his team suggest starting with what is in reach: tomorrow.
“Get started, then assess as you go,” said Kendrick. “If getting into the new routine went well for the first week but then dropped off, step back and look at whether you’re interested in what you’re doing and whether it’s benefiting your recovery. If it is, then make small adjustments so the routine becomes easier for you.”
Know That There Will Be Setbacks, and That’s Okay
Clients need to know that forming routines in long-term recovery isn’t easy. According to Kendrick, setbacks are a part of the process. The key is to have a plan for how to deal with them and reestablish the routine you started.
“Habits don’t develop overnight just like the disease didn’t,” Kendrick said. “It’s about consistency over time.”
Switching up the time of day could help check new habits off the list. Try adjusting routines into higher energy times rather than waiting until the last minute or pushing for the first thing in the morning.
Ask for accountability from a family member, mentor, or friend. Tell them about the new routine and talk about the plan.
Establishing a Routine is an Important Next Step in Your Recovery Journey
The GateHouse now has a case manager dedicated to our outpatient services clients; one more resource to help you discover and develop positive habits in recovery. To learn more about our outpatient services, call 717-393-3215 to speak with one of the team members.
The GateHouse offers outpatient services for long-term addiction recovery to clients throughout Lancaster County, PA. We help our clients access the services and resources they need to return and contribute to their communities. Kendrick and our entire team at The GateHouse would love to help you with your next step in recovery. Reach out to us today!