To create a structure around your recovery, have a clear plan and schedule for your recovery activities. For example:
- Instead of approaching each meal time with anxiety and fear that you will eat “the wrong thing,” it is more peaceful to rely on a plan customized for you by a dietitian.
- In order to incorporate more movement into your day, it helps to schedule it in as an appointment with your recovery. Leave it to chance and it might not happen.
- If you’re someone who tends to put more emphasis on work than self-care, community work, creativity, spiritual time, or recreation, following a schedule can help bring more balance to your life.
Plan, prepare, protect
There are ways to implement your recovery structure: First, you must create the plan – often in conjunction with support, which we’ll expand on in the next section. Next, you must set yourself up for success by preparing what you’ll need to carry out your plan.
For example, in order to eat according to your food plan, you must have gone to the grocery store, and in some cases already prepared or taken out the items you’ll be eating. In order to carry out your movement plan, you may need comfortable footwear, a playlist of fun tunes on your MP3 player, or a pre-arranged date with a walking buddy.
Lastly, you must protect the structures you’ve put in place, which are vulnerable to distraction, temptation and outright sabotage from yourself and others. Use an affirmation like, “I choose to be responsible for my health and well-being” as a reminder of your intention and commitment.
Have set responses for when people offer choices that would lead you off course, such as, “No, thank you,” or, “We can do that later, but right now I am eating my meal,” or, “You go ahead, but I’m going to do/have this instead.”
We’ve already used two examples of support – a dietitian who can create a customized food plan, and a walking buddy who can help you prepare for success when adding gentle movement into your life.
Your support circle may also include family members, friends, a support group, a therapist, a medical doctor, or a psychiatrist as needed. These are people who can understand and validate your experiences in recovery, but not enable any self-harming behaviors or sabotage. Having this caring circle around you will help protect against relapse.