How to Foster Discipline in Your Life

While in rehab, many recovering addicts discover the power of self-control. At first glance, the prospect of fostering discipline might seem boring, but training yourself to lead a more orderly life yields untold benefits, especially for recovering alcoholics and the chaos that comes with sobriety. To learn more about healthy ways to take control of your life, seek professional help.

Structure: The Key that Keeps You Sober

The first few weeks and months of alcoholism recovery launch a season of potential transformation. As the body and mind adjust to sober living, individuals glimpse reality with more clarity. For instance, even though someone may complete treatment, recovery is still new enough at this time to make sobriety seem like work. Additionally, stress can ramp up when you return to responsibilities at home, family and work as well as your relationships. Unfortunately, many recovering alcoholics think they must fix every problem immediately, but rushing through the treatment process can be counterproductive. In fact, if you remember the wisdom of taking slow, steady steps, then you can stay maintain structure. However, the predictability of a daily plan can allay anxiety about the future.

In contrast, waking up each morning without a plan for the day sets the stage for disorganization. Routines may fall to the wayside, even if they are as important as attending 12-Step meetings. The mind is more likely to stray into fear, anxiety and daydreams without a general plan that protects against negative thoughts and feelings. Plus, being responsible for duties (such as going to a job and keeping promises) becomes easier when someone has structure. Lastly, trust rebuilds as loved ones learn to depend upon a recovering addict’s consistent initiative.

Discipline: Tips and Suggestions

To jumpstart your discipline, you must set goals, and calibrating your expectations is the first step. The work that is required to maintain a routine may seem difficult at first, so you can expect to take one step forward and two back as you begin practicing sobriety at home. In fact, a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology[1] and reported in the Huffington Post[2] reveals that most people take about 66 days to form new habits.

The next step is to keep it simple, as taking on too many duties, chores and projects can discourage you if you endlessly fail at them. In response, instead of putting yourself under the pile, eliminate all but the essentials from your daily schedule, especially within the first 90 days of recovery. Studies funded by the National Institute of Health[3] show that the first three months of sobriety are critical—during this timeframe, many well-intentioned people relapse into the lifestyle habits that set them up in the first place for trouble with alcohol. In other words, too much stress means that you may begin soothing your pain with drink rather than community and wisdom, so prioritize only what you must do to stay healthy.

The next step is to cover the basics, such as meeting your nutritional needs and getting adequate rest. Many people who return home from rehab sleep for a couple of weeks straight, which leaves time only for 12-step meetings and counseling sessions. Ergo, aim for nine hours of sleep nightly, but do not be shocked if you need more, as this response is normal. Furthermore, stock your fridge with healthy foods and plan to eat three meals a day to keep your body well. In fact, if you skip breakfast, then you risk depriving your body of its morning boost which will keep you running all day.

Remember, in the early days of sobriety, you are still recuperating. Chances are that you have ignored your health while abusing drugs, so you may still be suffering from conditions such as anemia, muscle atrophy and infection. You have probably avoided routine doctor’s visits, so you must tend to this issue as soon as possible. In that light, consider anchoring your schedule to recovery meetings, such as aftercare groups or 12-Step communities. This meeting can even be the centerpiece of your day, as most addiction treatment specialists say that recovery is only as successful as the quality of the support network that recovering addicts create and maintain.

Emotional Discipline: Using Meditation to Keep Even Keel

A growing body of scientific evidence proves that a specific form of meditation, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, prevents relapse, because it helps recovering addicts gain discipline over their emotional lives. This treatment approach teaches people to pay attention in the following three ways:

  • On purpose
  • In the present moment
  • Without judgment

Mindfulness teaches recovering alcoholics to observe their feelings with curiosity and compassion. This is a far cry from the usual approach, which involves running away from pain with alcohol. On the other hand, practicing mindfulness helps many people gain new levels of discipline.

Help for Alcohol Abuse

Getting sober is hard work, but you do not have to do it alone, as we are here to help. If you or a loved one suffers from addiction and trauma, then please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline. Our admissions coordinators can provide information about addiction treatment and family support, so do not let addiction steal your joy any longer. Please call us today for instant, professional help.


[1] Retrieved from http://www.easp.eu/publications/journal.htm

2 Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-clear/forming-new-habits_b_5104807.html

[3] Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3057870/

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