Spring Clean Your Recovery Routine

By The Fix staff 03/26/18

Spring can be a surprisingly tricky time for people living in recovery. Here’s how to keep your sobriety strong.

A woman in a clean apartment, arms held wide and head up.

Spring is here, and you’re probably planning to spring clean your house, getting rid of clutter, dirt and things you no longer use. The benefits of spring cleaning are obvious, which is why you should consider doing it for your recovery as well.

“As spring comes, that’s a good time to get active again in your recovery and get out of winter hibernation mode,” says Tina Campbell, director of case management and a licensed substance use disorder counselor at Maple Mountain Recovery, a trauma-informed treatment center outside of Salt Lake City.

Many people in recovery prepare for the holidays with fervor. The holidays are known to be a difficult time of year, so a lot of people reinforce their recovery routines by attending extra meetings and practicing more self-care. However, after they get through that perceived danger zone they can let themselves slip, especially in the cold, dark months of February and March.

“I’ve found a lot of people relapse in the late winter and spring,” Campbell says. “They get through the holidays and then lower their defenses.”

To avoid that, Campbell recommends that everyone in recovery — whether they’ve been sober for a month or a decade — take inventory of their recovery this spring.

“It’s just like a business. A business that doesn’t do regular inventory of what they have and what they need is not going to be successful,” she says. “A regular inventory is a huge huge part of recovery.”

Here’s how to give your recovery program a spring spruce up:

Know The Signs Of Trouble

In order to avoid relapse, it’s important to be able to identify behaviors that might indicate that your sobriety is slipping. If you find yourself missing meetings or changing your schedule, that can be an indication that you’re no longer prioritizing your recovery as much, Campbell says.

People who are slipping might also notice that they are more irritable or depressed.

“Little things that normally wouldn’t bother someone might be getting under their skin a little more,” Campbell says.

In addition, changes to who you’re spending time with can be a sign of trouble. If you’re spending less time with your sponsor or other sober people, that might show that you’re trying to avoid being immersed in the recovery world. On the other hand, if you are relaxing boundaries with friends or family members who are still using, it can be a sign you need to reevaluate your routine.

“People start putting themselves in higher risk situations, if they start to slip,” Campbell says.

Look At Your Behavior Over Time

We all have good days and bad days. Although taking a daily inventory is useful, Campbell says that it’s most effective to look at changes to your behavior over time.

“A lot of the time we don’t see in a few days that we’re starting to slip, but looking over weeks or months we can see that we’re slipping,” Campbell said.

Looking at the past few months, ask yourself what behaviors and patterns can be improved upon. For example, could you stay more connected with your sponsor or incorporate a mindfulness practice into your day?

However, don’t forget to acknowledge what you’re already doing well.

“We tend to focus on the negative, but it’s important to find the positive things you’re doing too,” Campbell says.

Rely on Your Recovery Community

Sometimes it’s hard to see our own patterns, particularly if we’re dealing with addiction or other mental health issues. Because of this, it’s important to have trusted people who you can talk to about your recovery, and who you can trust to help you realize when things are getting off track.

Campbell says it’s essential that anyone in recovery has a trusted person — whether their sponsor, therapist, family member or friend — who can help them evaluate their routines.

“You need someone who knows what your schedule and routine are, knows your triggers and coping skills,” she says. “That way, instead of making decisions alone, you can talk them through them with someone else.”

You can also talk to your network about what their periodic check-ins look like.

“It’s important to have our own idea of what these things look like, but also have the support of people who are further down the road,” Campbell says. “Ask them what they do for check-ins, and what their inventory looks like.

Choose Healthy New Ways To Reinvigorate Your Recovery

In addition to looking at what’s not working, spring is a great time to choose new habits and patterns that can help support your recovery. Getting physical exercise, incorporating meditation or connecting with an alumni network from your treatment centers are all good ways to keep your sober lifestyle strong this spring.

“That change of the season is a good reminder to get back on track,” Campbell says.

Maple Mountain Recovery is a trauma-informed addiction treatment center in Mapleton, Utah. Learn more about their program at http://www.maplemountainrecovery.com/ and follow them on Facebook.

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