Boredom, loneliness, and disorientation challenge a person in recovery. In order to get by, we evaluate our environment, figure out our safety netst, and then settle in.
For a lot of people, that safety net is activity -- work, meetings, counseling sessions, sports, church, school, etc. But those things have been ripped away. If we’re not alone, many of us are dealing with isolation or the chaos of working (or not working) from home with our spouses and kids there, too.
Either way, it can be hard to find your bearings.
No Matter How Long You’ve Been in Recovery, Social Distancing is Bringing Up Old Pain
The reports are coming in that coronavirus and the resulting social distancing are a challenge especially for those whose brains are wired to seek relief from all the feelings that isolation dredges up.
You’ve worked hard to find other ways to embrace life on a daily basis, but when everything you expect to face is gone all of a sudden, you can feel how those old neural pathways are still there. But there are ways you can deal with it.
Step back and reassess where your triggers are, whether it’s time of day, certain events, or being isolated or overwhelmed for certain lengths of time.
Sitting around the house all day isn’t good for any of us. Exercise makes your muscles move and burn energy. Your body also produces endorphins that will give you some peace of mind, and wear you out a bit so you sleep better at night.
You can’t go to a gym, but you do have other options. Get on Pinterest and find some workouts. Order an online chair yoga class on Daily OM (you get to pick how much you want to pay), or look for routines on YouTube for everything from calisthenics to tap dancing.
Go for a walk or a run. Keep the 6 foot distance from others who aren’t housemates, have a mask on. But you can be outside safely.
2. Meditate or pray
Meditation is quiet focusing on your breathing. As thoughts come, you let them, and then you redirect your thoughts back to your breathing. Even 5 minutes can make a difference. As you get better, you can concentrate on a thought of a phrase called a mantra. You can make it something like “I’m grateful for _______” and pick something like “strawberries,” “my husband,” “sunshine.” Focusing on different things you’re grateful for, no matter how simple, can rescue your attitude when things are starting to look bleak. Meditating regularly can keep things from getting there.
There are apps such as Mindspace and Calm that can guide you through simple beginner meditation exercises, and they often have a free trial period.
Praying offers many of the same benefits as mediation. Spring Gardens Recovery doesn’tt promote any particular religion, but if you believe in a higher power, you can focus on how someone else has control over life and everything that seems to have no order right now. Prayer gives a focus for your thankfulness and your concerns.
3. Learn something
Just because you’re sitting at home doesn’t mean you can’t put your brain into gear and build a new skill. What’s something you’ve wanted to learn? Order a book, sign up for an online class, or even get someone to tutor you over Zoom.
Anything’s a possibility:
- Spanish or Ukrainian
- Harmonica or Piano (Or how about an Atomatone? Annoy your friends and family for hours while amusing yourself… Why yes, I do have kids.)
- Ballet (Seriously, there are Zoom classes)
- Data Science
There are courses out there for everything. Check out The Great Courses, Udemy.com or Coursera for everything from a photography course to advanced calculus. Duolingo or Babbel are great language options. And if you want to research other sources, a Google or Pinterest search will uncover some amazing things.
4. Attend meetings and focus on your recovery
Just because you’re trying to avoid relapse doesn’t mean you should try to avoid talking about it. In fact, please, find a place to talk about it. Almost every type of recovery group out there has gone online which means there are meetings several times every day, maybe even right when you need one.
Read, listen to recovery podcasts, work on your program. Refresh your recovery efforts if you’ve been at this for a while. Don’t assume you should have this down by now. This is a whole different ball game. And if you’re still new in your recovery, sharpen every weapon in your recovery arsenal and keep going back for reinforcements.
Here’s a podcast that talks about just this...and the show notes include a fabulous list of resources including helplines and meetings.
5. Make a few bucks while helping other people
If you’re healthy and have a car, plus time to kill, why not do delivery? Instacart, Ubereats, Doordash, grocery stores, etc. are all desperate for delivery people, and you can commit to a couple hours here or there. Bored? Lonely? Activate your app and take some food to people who can’t get it themselves.
If you’re not working right now at your regular job but want to do something, LinkedIn maintains a constant list of employers who are hiring during COVID-19.
6. Enjoy nature
The regulations are different depending on where you are, but there are a lot of places where trails, parks, and pretty places are open. Go fishing, go for a drive, take a hike. Just follow the 6 foot social distancing rules and have a mask with you if other people are around. If you find yourself in a store or some other place where people will appreciate that.
Fresh air and Vitamin D from the sunshine will do wonders for your mental state.
7. Reach out
Are there people who should hear from you? Give them a call, hop on a Zoom meeting for coffee, or even write a nice note and put it in the mail (a friend did this for me the other day, and it was so touching).
Do you need others? Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone who’ll help -- friends, family, your sponsor, your therapist, a hotline.
If you’re feeling like you can’t handle things and you need the extra support a treatment program brings, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re open. We’re taking precautions to make sure everything is safe for our clients and staff...but you won’t be alone. You’ll be able to engage in treatment with others who are dealing with similar substance abuse struggles. We’ll conduct an assessment and determine if it’s safe for you to travel at this time, or we’ll help you find other resources.
Click on the buttons to the right. We’re waiting if you need us.
*the links in this post aren’t affiliate links, just helpful resources.
Lora Horn is a writer in Escondido, CA. She covers psychology and recovery issues because humanity is fascinating. When she’s not writing, she’s usually enjoying a nice cup of tea with her cat cuddled by her side.