The past year brought enormous mental health challenges. However, the difficulties haven’t entirely disappeared. Many people are now experiencing post-lockdown triggers as we move back into the real world.
If you’re sober and struggling, take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Here are some common obstacles and how you can cope with them.
If you spent the past year hunkered down at home, navigating the real world can feel awkward. Small talk might seem strange, and you may feel rusty socializing with friends in person. If you’re newly sober, these fears may be even more exacerbated.
Social anxiety can trigger depression and cravings, especially if you used drugs or alcohol to feel more confident. Here are some helpful tips to consider.
Start small: Make an effort to get out of the house and talk to someone each day, even if it’s just the cashier at a grocery store or a neighbor while walking the dog.
Commit to plans: Even if they scare you, start making plans with friends. Try to hold yourself accountable to attend the events.
Be patient and kind to yourself: Recovery and living through a pandemic are difficult feats! Affirm yourself often and be gentle with your progress- you don’t need to navigate every social scene perfectly.
Emphasis on Celebrations
It’s no secret that many people felt incredibly pent-up or burnt-out during this pandemic. To cope with new freedom, they’re partying, traveling, and celebrating in full swing.
While celebrating can be fun, it can also seriously compromise your recovery, particularly if your friends use drugs and alcohol as their primary way of indulgence.
Set an intention: Think about how you’d ideally like to handle an event before you arrive. Consider the scene and reflect on who you want to talk to and what you want to do.
Set boundaries for yourself: Commit to arriving and leaving events at a certain time. Think about what you can do to occupy yourself if you start feeling triggered. Enlist a trusted friend who can help you stay accountable to your goals.
Say no: Nothing is more important than your recovery. Give yourself permission to turn down any invitations that could compromise your well-being. Subsequently, even if you are already at an event, remind yourself that you always have the right to leave.
Major Life Changes
Although change can be beneficial, it can also feel scary, stressful, and chaotic. Many people in recovery thrive on having predictable routines, and these transitions can jeopardize that sense of normalcy.
Practice more mindfulness: Ground yourself with meditation and staying present. Even if things feel rocky, focusing on what’s right in front of you can help you stay even-keeled. Practice deep breathing during challenging moments.
Focus on gratitude: Think about what’s going well for you right now. Spend time each day reflecting on your appreciation and consider writing your gratitude down as a regular habit.
Build new routines: Even if things change, you can always create new rituals and structures for yourself. Try to prioritize keeping as much consistency as possible.
Reach out for more support: Ask for help when you need it. Consider meeting with a therapist who can help you process your new changes without judgment. Lean on loved ones and sober friends who can encourage and support you to stay on track.