During high-stress times, it’s easy to make bad decisions. You’re faced with worry, frustration, and an overwhelming need to find a way to feel better. For those in addiction recovery, the current pandemic is sure to create some unsettling feelings and thoughts. How do you protect yourself from slipping back into old patterns of self-comfort?
Recognize What’s Happening
This pandemic has changed the world as we know it. Even if you are not worried about becoming ill, you may be facing isolation from friends and family. You may have lost your job. You may be completely unsure whether life will ever get back to a level of normalcy you recognize.
The first step to dealing with high-stress situations is to focus on what you can control. You cannot control the pandemic, who becomes ill, or temporary job loss. You can control your actions and thoughts. If you’ve been through a drug and alcohol treatment, therapy taught you some key foundational skills to change your thought patterns from negative to positive. That’s something you can control right now.
What else can you control?
- How you spend your time. Choose to do things you enjoy. Take advantage of the time you have to spend with loved ones and with yourself.
- Who you talk to. Talk to friends and family you can trust to support you. Avoid talking with those who focus on the negative and add to your stress.
- When you reach out for help. Don’t wait. If you feel at risk, call your counselor or mentor.
Focus on what you can control. Empower yourself in this high-stress time to do something good for yourself, the community, and your family.
Choose Healthy Coping Mechanisms
It’s important to minimize stress if you’re in recovery. Stress is a hormone reaction that occurs in the brain. It’s designed to give your body the ability to react fast in a high-stress situation. It’s designed to last a matter of minutes, not for prolonged periods of time. In the past, you used drugs or alcohol to cope with chronic stress. Now, consider a few healthy coping mechanisms that will protect your sobriety and help you make better decisions.
Mindfulness Meditation: This approach to meditation helps you become more aware of your mind and body. It strengthens the mind-body connection as you learn how to use the breath to relax and how to manage stress in the moment. You attend to what you’re feeling, sensing, and experiencing in the present. This focus naturally calms the mind and body and gives you perspective.
Exercise: Now is an excellent time to exercise, especially if you’ve put it off. Not only does exercise help to minimize the stress hormone in your body, but it also improves your self-confidence and physical health. Find a type of exercise that you enjoy. You may want to start running, go for a swim, walk in the park, or lift weights. Invest time every day in exercise of some type.
Art and Journaling: If you’re in recovery right now, you already have a story to tell. Why not journal about it? You can also allow your feelings and thoughts to come through in art. Sculpting and painting are two options. Even just drawing on a piece of scrap paper can help. Consider other forms of expression, too, such as dance or playing a musical instrument.
Get Active and Give Back: One of the best ways to cope with stress is to do something about it. Instead of watching TV and worrying about what’s happening, find a way to contribute and help. If you’re healthy, consider delivering groceries to elderly neighbors. Turn to a local church to find out how you can help with a food drive. Write letters to those who live alone and may welcome a friendly note.
Find a Way to Talk: To friends, family members, or your support group, find a way to let out your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, when you turn those thoughts into words, they suddenly become less powerful. You feel better. Perhaps you are having trouble finding someone to speak to because of social distancing rules. Look for virtual support groups. Your therapist is available to you over the phone, too.
High-stress times like the current pandemic can feel overwhelming, but you’re strong and determined. Find a way to use your abilities to do something positive in your home, community, or within yourself during this time. If you need additional support, contact us to speak with a recovery mentor.