There is so much uncertainty present in the world right now. How long are we going to be quarantined for? How long will I be out of work? When can I go to the gym again or out to eat with my friends and family? These are all questions that are presently on the minds of so many individuals and unfortunately there is no clear answer to these questions, which can ultimately cause a lot of stress and anxiety. It is important to remember to focus on yourself even if there is no perfect answer to these pressing questions. Your recovery is still first priority and being aware of what you need at this moment to maintain that is the first step. Listen to your body, focus on what you can control, and remember when there is a will there is a way – it’s all about the energy you put into your recovery! Here are a few ideas to help you out during this difficult time.
Online Meetings and Online Social Gatherings
Because of so many places being closed or shut down due to the COVID-19 precautions, there are very limited options to attend an in-person recovery support group meeting. Talk with your sponsor and see if you can set up a small group of individuals to engage in a meeting together via phone or online chat. There are options like FaceTime, Skype, Google hangouts, and Zoom that will allow you to actually set up an online chat room where you can see each other in the meeting (as long as your computer or phone has access to a video option). Being able to talk to someone is important and if that means by phone or video chat then so be it!
Many groups are providing online 12 step meeting groups to those in the community since in-person meetings have been cancelled. Here are a few resources:
- Smart Recovery: www.smartrecovery.org
- Alcoholics Anonymous: https://aa-intergroup.org/oiaa/meetings/
- Narcotics Anonymous: https://www.na.org/
- Never Alone Club: www.neveraloneclub.org
- Cocaine Anonymous: www.ca-online.org/
- In The Rooms: www.intherooms.com/
Please remember if you are able to go to an in-person meeting to take the proper precautions to take to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This would include not shaking hands or hugging others. This may be difficult since the 12 step community is a family and celebrating each other and providing support to each other is a primary focus. However, your health is the main priority at this time.
Use Your Tools
Remember the time you spent in treatment? You learned a lot while you were there – whether it was recovery skill building such as mindfulness, communication skills, relationship building, identifying your triggers, how to pray or connect with your higher power, or coping skills. You must continue to use those tools on a daily basis no matter how difficult that may be or how limiting it can be for you presently. Some activities to engage in:
- Drawing, painting or sculpting (or any form of art therapy)
- Engaging in conversations with peers via phone, messaging, or online video sessions like Sykpe or FaceTime
- Exercising at home
- Listening to music
- Teaching yourself a new skill (there are so many online tutorials you can find)
There are so many ways you can continue to challenge yourself to be mindful of what you need right now and utilize those skills you learned while you were in treatment. Focus on your needs and then identify a plan on how you can meet those needs. Remember it is ok to ask for help when you need it.
When you’re not feeling like yourself, ask yourself if you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and/or Tired. Whether you’re having a bad day or struggling with processing everything that is taking place right now in the world, learning to HALT is essential for your own self-care.
What does it mean to HALT? This usually takes place when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. HALTing won’t solve all your problems, but it will allow you to be aware of the importance of focusing on your personal needs to deal with those problems. Stay healthy! Just because you are quarantined doesn’t mean that you need to binge on junk food. Look into videos online or articles to help you identify some healthy recipes. Stay busy and active so you don’t lose energy or focus. A lot of apps and online resources are allowing for free memberships right now due to the COVID-19 shut down.
Here are just a few free apps:
- Downdog – These are yoga and barre workouts that you can do at home. This is great to help manage your anxiety and stress while being stuck at home.
- HeadSpace – This app is great for mindfulness skills and allows you to meditate anywhere and anytime. Headspace also unlocked a free “weathering the storm” collection in the app, designed to support consumers during the COVID-19 outbreak. The collection is available in the “explore” tab.
- CorePower – This app will offer the same in-studio yoga experience for people at home. Choose your level one (C1) or two (C2) yoga classes, which feature fast-paced flows, along with soothing poses. Or try yoga sculpting (YS) to mix strength-training moves with yoga sequences. You’ll also find meditations for when you just need to get some zen.
Trust in your Higher Power
In a crisis, more than at any other time, you need to be comfortable enough to trust in your higher power. Having the relationship with your higher power has been able to assist you in your recovery process to this point and it will play a very important role in being able to manage what is thrown at you during this uncertain time. Individuals in their recovery process often are open-minded and have a pretty good understanding that there is a spiritual force that can help and guide them during any time of need. It’s okay to call out and pray for assistance and it’s important to do so.
Reach out for Help
With a lot of places closed, it is important to express your concerns and needs. If you are involved in counseling services and they have been closed due to the quarantine, then reach out to the agency and ask them for resources. There are a lot of options that take place online including therapy and most accept insurance plans as well. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance and get your questions answered about this process. Your emotional health is just as important to your recovery process as your physical health is.
Make a Gratitude List
Focus on the positive and what is working in the moment. Sit down and create a gratitude list. Challenge yourself to do this every day. Focus on what you can control in this time of need and rejoice in the accomplishments and the good things coming your way presently. Recognizing what you are grateful for can really have a positive effect on any crisis situation and allow you to feel more confident when trying to manage the situation.
This is a very trying time in our world. Countries are on 24-hour lock downs; in the United States, counties are closing all businesses and resources; people around the world are in panic mode. It is important to remember how far you’ve come in your recovery and how important you are in that process. You can’t help others if you are not well, remember that! Set strong boundaries, say no when you are overwhelmed, focus by engaging in mindful and breathing exercises, remember to take it day by day, and focus on the positives because at a time like this it is easy to be caught up in the negative and that is not beneficial for you or your sobriety. You can do this: don’t isolate yourself, reach out to others for help. You never know who you may help just by picking up the phone and talking to a friend!