Updated: Jun 25, 2020
The coronavirus has changed nearly every aspect of our personal and professional lives. With shelter-in-place orders in place in most states, we must all cope with the disruption of our normal routines and isolation from family and friends. Many have unfortunately been touched by the pandemic through job loss, loss of financial stability, or the heartbreaking loss of a loved one. This can all take a serious toll on our mental health and wellbeing.
For individuals in recovery from addiction, this crisis presents a unique challenge. The stress and uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic can lead to anxiety, depression, and other difficult emotions that make a relapse more likely. With self-isolation and the loss of traditional support group gatherings, it’s more important than ever to be vigilant in maintaining your sobriety.
Coping Strategies During a Pandemic
1) Stay Connected – While you may not be able to meet with family, friends, and your sober network in-person, stay connected to them virtually. Virtual support group meetings are available for Alcoholics Anonymous and SMART Recovery via Zoom.
2) Create Structure – With changes in normal routines due to the shelter-in-place order, it can be easy to lose daily structure. When this happens, it makes it harder to remain sober. Stay busy throughout the day by creating a set schedule for work, exercise, and sleep.
3) Limit News and Social Media – Although it’s valuable to remain informed as the coronavirus pandemic evolves, devoting excessive time watching the news causes anxiety and stress around situations we can’t control. Focus on what you can control in your daily life – your thoughts, emotions, and how you respond to them.
4) Take Time for Self-Care – Eating a healthy diet, taking time to exercise, and employing a daily mediation or gratitude practice can reduce stress and help you maintain your mental health while social distancing.
5) Adopt Recovery Plan – Developing and sticking to a plan for recovery allows you to anticipate difficult emotions that may arise due to isolation and changes in your personal and professional life. The plan should include coping strategies when cravings occur, activities you’ll engage in to prevent relapse, and a list of people to call if you need help.
I'm also available to provide remote coaching services to individuals in need of support for alcohol recovery and other addictions during this difficult time. If you require immediate assistance, national helplines are open 24/7 and can be found here. Stay safe and be well.