25 Mar Dealing with COVID-19 isolation in addiction
Isolation is bad new for people in addiction recovery. It breaks up routines and it fractures support systems, but right now many people are isolating for survival from COVID-19 AKA Corona.
Sobriety and Corona
Whether you are ten months or ten years into sobriety, you will remember being given the advice “do not isolate.” Fast forward to today: people around the globe are staying indoors. Gatherings like meetings are not an option. We’re even being told to stay at minimum 1.5 metres apart to avoid spreading COVID-19.
11 ways to support sobriety
1. Find a new normal
Addiction is easier to keep at bay, if you have a structured day. Get your pen and paper out and write down your perfect week. This a template you can use. It might be an 8am wakeup, 8.30am coffee over skype with a friend. You could add a little exercise or a virtual AA meeting. Make it realistic but give yourself some structure. Some simple goal-setting, now more than ever, is your friend.
Below we go into a little more detail on how you can fill that ‘perfect week’ schedule.
2. Online meetings
There are AA, NA and CA meetings online happening around the world. They don’t cost a thing. They might feel a little awkward or different than what you’re used to but try, try and try again. If the first one doesn’t feel natural just stick with it. If you have attended meetings before you will be familiar with the structure, and how it can be difficult to find the right balance of relatable people. Don’t give up if you don’t strike gold on the first go. Just keep trying.
3. Self care
Consider things you like doing, that are good for you. Whether it’s a long hot bath or painting your nails, now is the time to carve some time out. For once in our normal busy lives we can slow down and that means taking a deep breath, being mindful, and present.
4. Embrace your newly gained hours
If cooking is something you enjoy but never have time for, now is the time to do it. We have the benefit today of having podcasts, Youtube series, webinars and the whole wide web at our disposal. Learn a new skill, or refine an old one. There’s always room to grow and keeping busy with things that bring us pleasure and fill our day, is a healthy way to avoid relapse.
5. Meet the people you can
It’s safest to stay inside, and maintain separation, so only do what is possible and what you are comfortable with. If you can’t venture out for a coffee, then Skype/Facetime or livestream one. You won’t be alone in wanting to connect. People are hungry to hear from you, and want to feel like there is someone out there going through the same thing. Sharing your experience with your loved ones will help them too. Make time for nurturing the relationships you care about and have longer conversations. This might be one of the few times in your adult life you aren’t time poor. Connecting in a meaningful way takes time, and you now have that gift, so make the most of it.
6. Help others
Helping other people, will help you too. It’s healthy to shift some focus on to people in our families and communities in this time of need. It’s good to remember you are part of something bigger than yourself.
Who can you help? There are people with young children who also have addictions and can’t focus on themselves. If you don’t have kids and know someone who does and might be struggling reach out to them. Even a simple text message or a phone call could really brighten their day.
The people in our society who are really struggling right now are those who are less abled, elderly or unwell. These are vulnerable groups of people who might need you to checkin, but they also might need practical help. If you are in a position to, offer to order them groceries online. Check if they need help paying their bills online. Remember not everyone is internet savvy. You might have a next door neighbor who needs help. Leave them a note with your phone number – it could do wonders for the way they feel right now.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve done it before, or not. There are apps to help guide us. From beginners, to advanced, there is an app that will help you. Check out our advice on mental health apps here, or try the 21 Day Meditation Experience.
If you’re home alone, with peace and quiet, then meditation is a healthy way to fill your day. It is scientifically proven to grow your frontal cortex and can make it easier for you to form new habits (And break old ones!) That makes it the perfect compliment to addiction treatment, for example by a monk (click here to read more).
8. Enjoy your pets and plants
Self-distancing doesn’t apply to pets. Walk your dog (if you can). Play with your cat. Animals are documented to help us with our mental health. Whether it’s a cuddle or a game of fetch, it’s hard to not feel more relaxed and happy amongst our furry friends. No pet? Focus on your plants. Caring for someone or something else is healthy.
Just because you are staying home, doesn’t mean you need to stop moving. Exercise is vital to our mental health. If you have some decent square footage, then make the most of it. But, there are tons of exercises that don’t take up a ton of room. Try yoga.
10. Go outside
It can be on your balcony, in your yard, or simply sticking your head out the window. Getting some sunshine is positive for our mental health. It will help you feel happier. Make yourself do it, even if it feels forced. That time outdoors can improve your vitamin D levels, give you better quality sleep and lower your blood pressure.
11. Create your own chat group
Staying connected is vital for sobriety. Setup a message group or chat group with people who ‘get it’. Checkin with them regularly. Get used to sharing the mundane things and the serious things, because you will need that. Remember a little laughter goes a long way, and it’s good to share a laugh as well as sharing the difficult stuff. Communicating supports recovery.
Ultimately we appreciate this is a difficult time for many people. There are many uncertainties but please know you can call us. We are still here. If you need a hand – reach out, don’t relapse.
Please be mindful that if you are using drugs or alcohol to excess your immune system is likely to be lowered, so please be careful.
If you are considering ‘getting clean’ for the first time then call us or message us via the website.