From the military to sports to the spiritual life, routine is critical for success. However, maintaining a routine can seem boring, rigid, and stifling. I admittedly shared this view for several years. But for addicts who truly wish to be successful in their recovery, routine is crucial.
In my own recovery journey, routine has proven instrumental in my sobriety. It was a challenge in the beginning to be consistent with my routine but I persisted and it has helped with my overcoming of pornography and masturbation.
Routine Helps Us Be Efficient and Avoid Temptation
When we have a routine that we follow daily it reduces the need to make decisions. In other words, routine makes us more efficient. It enables us to know exactly what tasks we need to do without having to contemplate, decide, or think too much. When we are finished with one task, we know what comes next without much thought.
We can use our time to finish our tasks: attend meetings, pray, spend time with loved ones, and so on. These are healthy things that we should make time for because they can keep us from looking at pornography and masturbating.
Plus, the more our day is pre-ordered through routine the less likely we’ll find ourselves open to temptation. Routine can help lessen the potential for boredom, demotivation, and idle time as well, which can all be triggers for pornography and masturbation.
Additionally, routine helps us develop good habits to reach our full potential as we eradicate bad habits and replace them with good ones through repetition. And good habits reduce our reliance on willpower (which can fail us when that’s all we’re relying on).
Routine Helps Us Develop a Rich Spiritual Life
Developing and sticking to a routine can facilitate developing a good spiritual life. I recommend building a habit of prayer, such as a daily Holy Hour. We should all make prayer an integral part of our daily routine.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen devoted himself to a daily Holy Hour and made sure he never missed it. He made a resolution the day of his ordination to make it a priority, and he built it into his routine. He explained the decision in his book Treasure in Clay: “I resolved also to spend a continuous Holy Hour every day in the presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.” For such a busy bishop and popular speaker, this was not an easy task.
In God is Love, Pope Benedict XVI explained, “being Christian is…the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” This encounter happens especially in prayer and must be nourished with a daily routine.
I recommend not only to include a Holy Hour, rosary, or some other form of prayer in our routine but to make prayer part of our morning routine. Experience has shown that the mood with which I begin the day tends to influence my entire day. Therefore, the practice of directing our minds to God benefits us psychologically by keeping our thoughts on God. St. Francis de Sales understood that starting the day with God in mind allows us to keep God in mind throughout the day.
It’s also valuable to integrate the habit of fasting and penance as part of our routine. Fasting is important for spiritual growth and, if connected with liturgical seasons, can become an opportunity for accountability and communion. I have found in my recovery that intermittent fasting helped me focus on my recovery as well as keep my sexual urges low.
Routine Helps Us Prioritize Our Lives and Build Momentum
The beauty of designing a set routine is that it forces us to prioritize and determine what is most important to us. If we carefully design a personal routine and stick to it we can make sure we do the most important things first and avoid forgetting or neglecting them later.
For example, after some soul-searching and careful introspection, I decided that being mindful and healthy were goals that I wanted to attain so I incorporated a Holy Hour and physical exercise into my daily routine. When tasks like these become routine there is a reduced chance we’ll procrastinate because they have become ingrained into our lives.
My morning Holy Hour, weekly attending of confession, and daily exercise are examples of activities that have become ingrained into my “system” of life. This has caused momentum, which is extremely beneficial for long-term recovery. Having momentum allows us to build on our good habits more easily (that’s why going to the gym gets easier the more frequently we do it). A good routine can help us build momentum, which in turn strengthens our self-confidence and gives us a sense of satisfaction.
As addicts in recovery, having a routine is nothing other than a conscious choice to live our lives a certain way through healthy repetition. It’s one of the keys to success and happiness. We’ve all surely heard the phrase “practice makes perfect,” and it’s true. The more we follow healthy routines the better we become. So, carpe diem (“seize the day”) and start living a healthy routine today!
Aaron Walter is a lifelong Catholic, former porn addict whose ministry, NewMenRising is dedicated to pornography addiction recovery. He is a coach, mentor, and accountability partner. Passionate about helping husbands kick their addiction and transform their lives and relationships. Connect at aaronwaltercoaching.com.