Whether you are newly sober or have been in recovery for many years, the pandemic has undoubtedly shifted social norms, connection, and treatment accessibility. And with about a year of Zoom happy hours and jokes about quarantinis, it’s no surprise that many people have found themselves struggling.
Although your recovery plan may be different, it’s more important than ever to stay empowered during this vulnerable time. Let’s get into some action-based tips.
1. Stay as Connected as Possible
Even if you must be creative, prioritize your relationships. They are crucial to your emotional well-being.
Check-in with your support system every day, and be honest about your feelings. This tip is even more critical if you live alone or if you cannot physically see friends or family. Even just a quick text or phone call can make a tremendous difference.
2. Consider Online Recovery Tools
Many therapists and groups have shifted into providing virtual support. This option makes recovery accessible and convenient, and you don’t even have to get out of bed!
Alcoholics Anonymous: Alcoholics Anonymous provides in-person and virtual 12-step groups in 180 countries. There are numerous offshoots of AA, including Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and Codependents Anonymous.
LifeRing Online: LifeRing offers secular support for people recovering from their addiction. Online meetings take place seven days per week, and private email groups are also available.
Women For Sobriety Online: WFS Online offers a free 24/7 message board where women can connect and seek support in their recovery. Online text meetings occur 1-2 times each day.
Smart Recovery Online (SROL): SMART Recovery integrates behavioral therapy principles to help people achieve recovery. SROL provides online message boards, chat rooms, and meetings.
3. Stick With a Routine
Adhering to structure is crucial for maintaining your livelihood and well-being. A schedule holds you accountable to yourself and others. It also reduces decision fatigue, the triggering phenomenon caused by feeling overwhelmed by having too many available options.
Your routine can be as simple as waking up at the same time each morning, brushing your teeth, meditating, and beginning work. On a more elaborate level, it may include setting aside time for exercise, calling friends, reading recovery-based text, and practicing your gratitude.
Ideally, your routine should be both feasible and flexible. You’re only human, and it’s okay if you don’t follow things perfectly. That said, it should be simple enough where consistency doesn’t feel impossible.
4. Be Mindful of Triggering Situations
Triggers can include any person, place, or thing that causes a craving to drink or use. During COVID-19, you may be experiencing triggers that include:
- Stress associated with unemployment.
- Social isolation due to social distancing.
- Anxiety and uncertainty about the future.
- Grief due to losing a loved one to COVID-19.
- Parenting stressors, particularly if you are homeschooling children.
- Spending excess time on social media where people post about drinking.
Of course, you can’t avoid triggers entirely. But you should have a concrete plan for how you intend to manage cravings when they arise. For example, maybe you will commit to applying to five jobs each day. Or, perhaps you will journal for a few minutes when you feel anxious.
Remember that triggers can change your mood abruptly. If this is the case, you may need to practice extra self-care right now. Check-in with yourself regularly and make sure that you’re giving yourself enough time for rest and relaxation.
5. Double-Down on Recovery
It’s okay if you’re struggling right now. You’re not alone. The bravest choice you can make is to reach out for help and focus on doing what you can to feel better.
Consider reaching out for professional support if you need additional feedback or accountability. Help is always available, but you have to ask for it! Fortunately, many doctors, psychiatrists, and therapists can provide you with the treatment you need during this time.