Sometimes the world seems crazy. If you’re recovering from substance use disorder, you already have a full plate. When the world around us adds even more pressure, like all the news and changes from the coronavirus, it can all feel like a bit much. While it might be tempting to return to old coping mechanisms, we know that our addictions weren’t truly helping us. They didn’t improve our lives or ease the pressures we were facing. At best, our addictions were a temporary escape, but the world, with all its pressures, was still there. Here are a few sobriety mental health tips to help you get through the unusual times we’re facing.
Sobriety Mental Health Tips During the Coronavirus
1. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEELINGS
You might be feeling anxious, sad, scared, or some combination of all the above. You might be feeling angry. There’s nothing wrong with what you’re feeling. Your feelings are valid, and they don’t have to make sense. They don’t have to be reasonable. Where we get into trouble is when we try to suppress or ignore our feelings. It’s even okay to be uncertain about what exactly you’re feeling.
Take a moment to breathe and sit with what you’re feeling. Then find a way to channel those feelings. You might want to journal, take a walk, call or text a trusted friend, or do something more vigorous like go for a run. If you feel like you’re spiraling into negative thoughts, you might want to distract yourself with a movie or TV episode.
2. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
HALT is a useful acronym when it comes to self-care. It means not to let yourself get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. If you’re feeling agitated or short-tempered, check in with yourself. You may have gone too long without eating. Or you may be angry and need to talk to someone about your feelings. If you’ve been isolated for a while, it might be time to call a friend or loved one. If you’re tired, give yourself permission to relax, and maybe even nap.
Find practices that help keep you centered. Many people find prayer or meditation helpful. Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated. You can find short, guided meditations on YouTube. If you need a centering practice that’s more active, yoga could be a good option. You can find free yoga videos online.
3. CHECK YOUR INTAKE
We take in a lot of information every day. With the coronavirus, it seems like things are getting worse with every headline. It can be overwhelming and contribute to negative feelings. It’s okay to take a break from social media and the news. On Twitter, you can even mute specific words and hashtags for 24 hours or longer.
It’s okay if you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious about the news, and it’s okay to disconnect from it. Many apps allow you to block social media sites for specific time frames. You can also curate what you read and see by subscribing to newsletters, like this one from the Washington Post.
One exception, though, is to make sure you don’t disconnect from valuable resources. If you’re in Facebook groups that support you or if you follow Instagram accounts that help you, stay connected. But if you need to mute coronavirus coverage for a while, that’s fine. It’s okay to take a break.
4. STAY CONNECTED
When experiencing addiction, many of us isolated ourselves. We may have pushed away friends or family. In recovery, part of our work is mending those relationships to the best of our ability. In times of stress, it might be tempting to go back to our old pattern of isolating ourselves. Instead, take some time to reach out. Call a friend or family member. Send an email. Chat or talk online. Stay connected to the people you care about and who care about you.
5. STAY SUPPORTED
If you’re currently in treatment, you have some support in place. You may be seeing a therapist and/or going to support groups. If you’re no longer in treatment, you may still need these supports. If you’re not seeing a therapist, consider working with one. Many offer telemedicine services. You can also find support through online 12-step groups.
It’s important to stay connected to people who really understand what you’re going through. Family and friends will do their best, but peers in recovery have unique insights into your journey, and you may be able to help others along the way.
Finding a New Life
If you need support in these difficult times, New Life Addiction Counseling and Mental Health Services is here to help. We’ve helped thousands of people recover from addiction. We accept most commercial insurance as well as Maryland Medicaid. Contact us today to get the support you need. We’re here to help.