For the average person, anxiety can take a huge toll on his or her mental and physical health. For an addict, however, anxiety is a trigger and can devastate the journey to recovery. If you are on the path to sobriety, the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, can feel as if you’re adding insult to injury. Everything about the pandemic has turned life as we know it upside down and has caused previously normal aspects of life to become stressful. From working (or the inability to work) to grocery shopping to parenting, things that may not have caused anxiety before may now be your primary sources of stress.
Then there’s the very uncertainty of this pandemic. From not knowing how it might affect you (or even if it might) to uncertainty about the economy to the fact that there doesn’t seem to be an “end” in sight, you may find it all too easy to catastrophize and fall into an all-consuming cycle of panic. Fortunately, there are several things you can do — even in the face of this unique crisis — to manage your anxiety and take control of your fears.
One of the best things you can do to manage your anxiety during this stressful time is to reframe your thinking. Instead of viewing the quarantine as “being stuck inside,” view it as an opportunity to really work on yourself. Do one thing every day that you’ve been putting off until “later.”
Have you been avoiding writing in your daily reflection journal because you just didn’t have time? Create one meaningful entry a day. Are you tired of rummaging around in a crowded closet? Go through your clothes and create “keep” and “donate” piles. Have you been meaning to create your business’s website? Now you have no excuse – do it! Doing one productive thing a day can help you feel accomplished and, therefore, boost your mood. Use this time to slow down and really focus on yourself.
When you’re constantly consuming media regarding the virus (much of which is disheartening), it’s easy to get into and stay in a funk. Starting your day off by reading news push notifications that inform you of the previous day’s death counts will do nothing to help you manage your fear or anxiety. In fact, such media just fuels it. Unplug for a couple of days to allow your mind to recover, so to speak, from the bad news. Then, when you feel ready, tune back in. However, limit your news intake to just a few articles or news stories a day, or to about 30 minutes.
Keep a Routine
If you don’t know what day it is, you’re not alone. Monday feels like Sunday, Thursday feels like Friday, Friday like Saturday … Though normal when there is no work or school schedule to uphold, going about your days without some sort of routine can make them feel kind of pointless. This may lead to boredom, and boredom is a well-known trigger. For you, especially, it’s crucial that you create a new normal and stick to it.
Wake up and go to bed at the same time every night. Start your days with an invigorating exercise, followed by a shower. And get dressed! Pajamas may be comfortable, but they just add to the lethargic feeling. Clean your home on weekends, as normal, and use your weekdays to either work (if you get to work from home) or take care of that long list of to-dos you’ve been putting off. Not only will sticking to a normal routine keep you active and therefore, less likely to worry, but also, it can make readjustment easier when it comes time to do so.
Stay Connected With Friends and Family
During your recovery, support is more important than ever. Though you’ve been physically cut off from your friends, family and addiction support group, you can still maintain intimate connections with each person through phone calls, text messages and email. Letter writing, though “archaic,” can be particularly lethargic, especially when you find yourself with so much time on your hands.
Start a New Ritual
Though it doesn’t seem like it, this forced time-off may be a blessing in disguise. For the first time in our society’s history, we have that ever-elusive “free time.” Take advantage of it by starting a new ritual that means something to you. Make this a ritual you plan to maintain even after the world “opens back up.” Examples include journaling, going for an evening stroll, water color painting, reading for an hour or simply sitting and reflecting. Do something that can you look forward to each day.
Take Advantage of Telehealth Services
When your anxiety simply becomes too much, sign up for a telehealth session. Telehealth is becoming increasingly popular, and there are dozens of HIPPA-compliant video chat platforms through which you can find a licensed psychologist. Don’t feel as if you are alone in your fear and anxiety — you are not, so when you feel overwhelmed, reach out for help.
Right now is an anxious time for everyone, but we understand if it is especially so for you. If you need to talk, or if the pandemic has caused you to relapse, please reach out to your recovery specialists at Duke City Recovery right away.