How can you stay sober if you need to be practicing social distancing?
Staying connected to a strong network during your recovery is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. When you were using drugs and alcohol, you probably found yourself becoming increasingly alone. If you did surround yourself with people, they probably encouraged you to drink and use drugs.
Now that you are clean and in recovery, you know that you have to surround yourself with people who support your sobriety. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, millions of Americans had been ordered to stay home in March 2020, but now some 42 states are slowing emerging out of citizen isolation orders. Other states, however, notably New York, California, and Washington, remain on lockdown, with shutdown (stay at home) order firmly in place, for the time being.
While we wish we could make this pandemic disappear as quickly as it came, we are not in control. Therefore, we must practice what we preach and work hard to take things one day at a time, focus on the things that are within our control, and make a commitment to stay healthy. Below are some of the best tips we have to stay sober while practicing social distancing.
Attend Online AA/NA Meetings
While it’s still most common for AA/NA meetings to be held in physical buildings like hospitals, churches, and mission houses, they are also held online! Some people in recovery prefer this format due to limitations on transportation.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, most meetings have been moved online. You can participate in your usual group, providing they've moved online. If not, check out this website that offers a list of online meeting websites where you can connect with others in recovery. These meetings are done in a variety of formats, including text-only, voice, or video chat.
Make a Virtual Appointment with Your Therapist
As is the case with AA/NA meetings, virtual appointments with therapists are nothing new. You can speak with a licensed, qualified counselor through online chat, video, or phone through a number of sites. With many therapists moving to an online format due to COVID-19, it’s likely that you’ll have to meet with your counselor this way as well.
If you don’t have a counselor, take advantage of the online tools available to you. For the lowest costs, use your insurance to find an online mental health professional who is qualified in treating people in recovery. You can even set up a return visit with the same provider if needed.
Seek Outpatient Treatment
Outpatient drug rehabs like Awakenings Treatment Center will continue to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you feel that you need extra support right now, you may benefit from joining an outpatient rehab in Agoura, an effective and affordable option for people who are struggling with addiction. Many people need this support as they transition into their everyday lives.
Because this current situation is unusual, it’s normal to feel mixed emotions. Everyone is handling this pandemic differently, and there is no one “right” way to deal with it. Therefore, if you feel yourself losing ground, reach out to an outpatient program like Awakenings for added support, compassion, and guidance.
Follow a Balanced Schedule
It’s essential that you follow a balanced schedule right now. This is important in early recovery because it provides you with a framework of how you should be spending your time. But, now that you probably have even more time on your hands, it's especially crucial that you know what to do with it.
If you have a healthy routine that you've followed since Day 1 in addiction treatment, stick to it as best as you can. You’ll have to make some changes, such as by attending your 12-step meetings online, but you should have a basic outline to follow. For example, break down your day into hours, specifying when you'll wake up, exercise, eat, relax, and go to bed.
Video Chat Loved Ones
Everyone has a lot on their minds right now, and being isolated only makes anxious thoughts worse. Fortunately, there are many ways you can stay in touch with loved ones to ease your anxieties. Pick your platform - FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp and even Facebook Portal’s smart video calling are all great options.
You can use any of these platforms to video chat with friends and family. It’s comforting to see their faces and for them to see yours. A benefit to these platforms is that you can chat with many people at once, allowing the whole extended family to connect. These times aren’t easy, but you’ll feel better seeing your loved ones’ faces.
Continue with Good Nutrition
It’s always important to take good care of your health, but now we have a serious virus to fight. Even though many grocery stores have limited foods, you should still focus on eating a balanced, nutritious diet. Now is not the time to indulge in high-fat, sugary foods, as this can thwart your recovery.
Additionally, avoid eating all day while you’re at home. Social distancing makes us bored, and in turn, we tend to overeat on comfort foods like pasta, bread, and frozen pizza. If you feel tempted to eat, drink water or try to wait it out. If you can’t, eat something low in calories like cold cut veggies or a piece of fruit.
Start a New Hobby
It’s never too late to start a new hobby. Hobbies help us find our passion in life and ensure a satisfying recovery. Now that you have some extra time in your schedule, fill it with a new activity like photography, coding, or knitting. Choose something that will push you to learn new skills but also something that you will enjoy.
Hobbies are a great way to fill your time and prevent boredom. As you learn new things, you’ll feel a sense of achievement that helps to overcome depression. Having a hobby also relieves stress and helps you break free of old habits that may be weighing you down. Once things go back to normal, you’ll be glad that you learned new talents and skills.
Write in Your Gratitude Journal
Gratitude is very important to the recovery process. Addiction fools you into thinking that you’re alone in the world, and the only thing that is there for you are drugs and alcohol. As your brain heals, you’ll stop thinking like this, but it takes time for healing to occur. This is why gratitude is so important, as it shifts your perspective and reminds you of all the things you have to be happy for.
The thing about gratitude is that it often takes a conscious effort. Otherwise, we tend to focus more on the things we don’t have. So, make an effort to spend a few minutes each day writing down the things you are grateful for. Even though the world is scary right now, you probably have a roof over your head, good health, interesting books to read, a pet to cuddle and so on. Most of us are far luckier than we realize!
Clean and Organize Your Home
As you spend more time at home, it’s normal to feel bored and uneasy. These feelings are okay for someone else, but for a person in recovery, they can trigger the desire to use. With this in mind, be sure that you are staying on top of your household chores. Now is a great time to clean out closets and drawers, organize your bedroom, and deep clean areas of the home that don’t get much attention.
While this may not sound like a lot of fun, having a clean and tidy space supports a healthy recovery. Why? Because it reduces stress from the daily chaos in your life. You’ll know where things are and you can keep track of appointments and other essentials. And, since it’s springtime, there are plenty of great resources and support groups for spring cleaning!
Foster a Pet
Many animal shelters are looking for help fostering pets during the coronavirus. If you’ve thought about adopting an animal but weren’t sure, now is a great time to test the waters. You can help out an organization and pet in need, enriching your life, and making you feel better about yourself and the world.
If you’re not ready to bring a pet into your home but still want to help out, consider walking a neighbor’s dog or donating supplies to a local animal shelter.
Exercise at Home
Continue staying active at home. We all know that exercise heals the brain and body, even if you’re not in recovery. Exercise also reduces stress, boosts the mood, increases energy, and prevents relapse. You can break up your exercises into 10-minute workouts if you prefer this to one long one.
If you live in a warm climate, you can continue to get outdoors and run, bike, and walk while practicing social distancing. Many state parks, beach fronts, etc. are closed to the public right now, so be sure to check with these places before heading out. Exercising at home may be a safer option right now, so consider workout videos, stretching, dancing, etc.
Stay Strong in Your Faith/Spirituality
Whichever faith, religion, or spirituality you practice, we hope that you find peace in it. Things are happening right now beyond our control. But faith keeps us going strong when things don't go as planned.
With faith, we have hope. Practice your faith, whether it's reading the Bible, spending time in nature, praying, or meditating. There is no one way to be close to a higher power, but everyone can enjoy the benefits of strength, reduced fear, and reduced anxiety when growing close to their god.
Awakenings Treatment Center continues to remain open during this difficult time. If you need extra help right now, please contact us and we’ll be happy to go over our options for addiction treatment. In the meantime, please stay safe, eat healthily, exercise, and stay connected to your support network.