Plan a Strong Recovery With a Daily Diary Routine

Be Proactive – one of the famous seven habits of highly effective people. Many people get caught up in thinking about sobriety and recovery but not actively engaging in sobriety and recovery, a common mistake in the early stages of overcoming dependency.

Strong recovery once sobriety is established requires good planning, so be proactive!

There are many exercises and practices that one can use to stay focused and grounded in early recovery, and a recovery diary is one of these simple strategies. Keeping a recovery diary and using it as a guide each day is a positive way to stay action orientated and attentive to recovery tasks. If you are working through the stages of change model for addiction recovery with your therapist, it is an effective tool in the preparation, action and maintenance stages.

Let me check my diary

Actively engaging in practical experiences, physical activities, and new rituals that promote and reinforce recovery and well-being will ensure you continue to pull away from destructive behaviours. Mindfulness is the art and practice of being present and self-aware in the present moment. You can begin to use a diary to become more mindful, focusing on each day with intention.

This means that rather than waking up and wondering what you should be doing in recovery that day and simply thinking in your mind about recovery, you have already planned in a diary what you will be doing. Strong recovery once sobriety is established requires good planning, so be proactive!

Starting a diary when you are contemplating sobriety or have just begun early recovery may feel like a waste of your time and energy – but the truth is this simple practice will help you when it comes to planning, creating a routine, and making life manageable again.

Active addiction creates chaos and disorder, while recovery is about creating a newfound sense of order, routine and balance – this is where the recovery diary helps.

Yes, it will take tolerance and reminding to develop the routine each day, but after a couple of weeks, when this new diary-keeping routine and habit is formed, it will make recovery feel more manageable and realistic.  

Tip: Buy a page-a-day diary which has plenty of space for appointments, tasks, reminders, notes and lists.

A diary is different to a recovery journal; read more about ‘the difference between a recovery diary and a recovery journal‘.

Keeping a recovery diary has many benefits, which I hope you will experience for yourself. It may come more naturally for people who are practical and high functioning by nature. It will also be useful for those who get consumed by overthinking and procrastination.

Making life manageable again

Active addiction creates chaos and disorder, while recovery is about creating a newfound sense of order, routine and balance – this is where the recovery diary helps.

Visually writing into your diary and planning out your week empowers you to take back control of your life. Teach yourself to be practical in recovery, not preoccupied with recovery.

The purpose of starting a recovery diary is to create a sense of clarity, focus and purpose in the days, weeks and months ahead. Plan one week ahead with your new recovery diary, leaving nothing to chance. For those who struggle with compulsivity and impulsivity, a diary will provide a sense of structure and order.

Tip: Choose a day each week to plan for the week ahead, for example, on a Sunday for the 7 days ahead.

I encourage all my clients starting addiction counselling and recovery to consider keeping a daily diary to plan out the week ahead and learn to become more action and goal orientated. These are skills that are beneficial for many aspects of work, home and life. Learning to establish a routine is part of being strong in recovery.

Teach yourself to be practical in recovery, not preoccupied with recovery.

There is a lot to take on once you start treatment and intervention, and you won’t be able to keep track of everything. Try not to get overwhelmed. It is a learning curve, so don’t be harsh or critical of yourself during this challenging time. Carrying around a recovery diary will give you a focus and is a place to take notes and remember plans for the day ahead.

Tip: Pre-schedule your individual therapy sessions for the month ahead with your therapist to help with planning your life around support and interventions.

What do I put in a recovery diary?

Write in your diary anything that is recovery and well-being related! Such as scheduled personal therapy sessions, group self-help support meeting times, and recovery peer support calls, sponsor calls for the week ahead. It is common to attend meetings regularly during each week, so find meeting times that work best for you. If you have not yet started meetings, here is a guide to recovery self-help support meetings in Ireland.

Write your sobriety number every single day on top of each page to keep you motivated. Counting up sobriety days and dates is another simple mindful recovery strategy. Don’t forget to celebrate your sobriety and recovery milestones, another popular way to stay motivated! Celebrating achieved goals helps to reinforce the positive change that you are making in your life.

Include other important appointments and tasks which may have become lost to your addiction, such as medical check-ups, dental appointments, exercise, fitness, self-care appointments, and other practice contacts like emergency family contact details and sponsor information. Strong recovery is not just about sobriety and abstinence. It’s about living a fulfilled life again, enjoying new experiences, getting healthier, fitter and feeling good about yourself.

Think about including in your new diary routine important dates like family birthdays and anniversaries, which you might have lost track of during your addiction. These types of events may require mental and practical preparation in advance to prevent triggers and slips.  

Build Trust

Keeping a recovery diary is also a good trust-building relationship hack. A visual way of showing your partner that you are active and intentional, planning and taking control by focusing on recovery and well-being and not letting things slide with no plan in place. If you are working through a relationship healing process with your partner or they wish to be a part of your recovery process, then plan regular 30-minute to 1-hour weekly couples check-in time to talk about how you, your partner and the couple in recovery are managing.


Orlagh Reid Psychotherapy

Orlagh Reid

Orlagh Reid is an IACP accredited Counsellor & Psychotherapist, Addiction Counsellor, Gottman Couples Therapist and Fertility Counsellor in private practice based in Co. Kildare, Ireland and worldwide online via DOXY. She specialises in addiction, recovery, well-being and clinical sexology. To find out more or to book an online consultation visit

Orlagh Reid Psychotherapy MIACP Therapy Ireland

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