Staying sober can be a daunting task, one that is best addressed through a strong support network.
For those who are in early recovery, long-term recovery, and even people who do not have a substance abuse problem, the COVID epidemic has affected almost every aspect of our daily lives. For almost all of us, it has increased our stress levels and required adjustments.
To support recovery from substance abuse during these unprecedented times, it is important to be proactive by anticipating challenges and having a plan. Toward that end, below is a list of eight suggestions that might help relieve stress and support your sobriety.
1. Attend a virtual recovery meeting
Access virtual group support via cell phone or computer. One online resource is https://www.12step-online.com/meetings
2. Take care of the basics
Sleep: Maintaining a regular sleep schedule can improve your mood, health, and productivity.
Eat Healthy: Nourishing your body with the nutrients it needs will help you feel like your best self.
Exercise is a natural energy and mood booster. Take a walk around the block or access free exercise and yoga classes online.
Seek Professional Help: You are not alone in this journey. Reach out to therapists or support groups and make sure you schedule and do not miss doctor’s appointments.
Get Outside to decrease stress and anxiety while boosting your mood. Maintain social distance in your neighborhood while walking, running, or biking outside. Even being on your porch or in your backyard helps, as do gardening, reading outside, or talking with neighbors from a distance.
3. Focus on the Present
By focusing on small things you can accomplish daily and creating a routine, you can improve your overall emotional well-being. Simple goals such as taking a walk, eating breakfast, keeping to a bedtime routine and schedule, cleaning areas of your living space—basically focusing on what you can accomplish rather than worrying about things you must do in the future—can reduce negative thoughts and stress.
The simplest way to meditate is remembering to breathe slowly by watching your breath go in and out for two minutes. There are free guided meditation apps for your phone that promote relaxation and mindfulness.
5. Practice Gratitude and Kindness
Write down or text to yourself something you are grateful for each day or a positive experience. Express kindness through a text, email or phone call by reaching out to a new person each day. Spreading positivity and thanking those around you for the ways they enhance your life can help to build strong social connections that are essential to maintaining recovery.
6. Avoid News Overload
This is a big one! With constantly changing updates regarding COVID-19 and the Presidential election, it can be hard to take a break from overloading yourself with negative information. Try to be conscious of how much media you are consuming as it can lead to added anxiety and stress. Give yourself media breaks throughout the day and focus on other positive activities.
7. Find Positive Distractions
While home, it can be challenging to distract yourself from the stressors of work, recovery, and the pandemic. Find activities that you enjoy that can help you focus on the present. This could include reading a book, watching a funny movie, cooking a meal, learning a new skill like an instrument or practicing a new yoga position, tapping into your creative side by drawing, painting, or writing. Adding activities to your day that you look forward to and bring you joy can boost your mood and decrease stress.
8. Create Space
If you find yourself stuck indoors, make sure you find a little time to get away from family members. Some people are reporting that they are experiencing increased stress simply by not being able to be alone during the COVID restrictions.
These suggestions can be helpful for not only those with substance abuse problems but also for anyone dealing with the current COVID world.
Help for substance abuse problems is available for Teamsters and their families through TAP (Greater Bay Area) and TARP (Central Valley).