How Long Does It Take to Develop Healthy Habits in Recovery?

Developing healthy habits in recovery You may be at a point in your recovery where you’re excited to see where the path takes you. You feel confident about sobriety and you’re motivated to do whatever it takes to get your life order – but as you start learning of all the different components of recovery – such as physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness – you may ask yourself, “How long will it take?” A common question asked by many in recovery, healthy habits are what serve as maintenance and preventative measures for our body to function effectively. Without healthy habits, our lives become unstable – a common ground for many struggling with addiction.

Habits are considered tendencies or practices; routine behaviors that occur on a regular basis. When we’ve developed a habit, it becomes a natural response to stimulus that occurs either internally or externally (in our environment). A 2015 study published in the journal Health Psychology Review noted that when habits form, they may be alongside conscious decision-making as well. An example of this may be someone who wants to purposefully eat healthier. Not only are they making a conscious decision to grab healthy foods each day, but they may eventually cultivate a habit that makes it easier to reach for food high in protein or nutrients as opposed to something less nutritious.

There’s a saying that it only takes 21 days to form a new habit, and that’s certainly not true. This myth assumes that habits are easy to break and easy to form – and if that were the case, the way we argue with others, the routine that we enact each morning and the natural responses we have towards certain situations would be easier to manipulate. If you really want to strengthen your chances of building healthy habits in recovery, you should take into consideration the following tips:

  • Start with one month, but take it day by day
  • Act simply, don’t try to change your life in one single day
  • Remind yourself with notes, alarms and by telling others about your goals so that you can be held accountable
  • Understand that it will take time for healthy habits to develop – but rather than focusing on the long-term goal, take it one step at a time

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.