Although social isolation and restrictions are in place to help stop the spread of COVID, it has been detrimental for the addiction community.
According to The National Alliance on Mental Health, the relapse and overdose rate has increased by 30% since March 2020. Additionally, there has been a surge in mental illness relapses such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
With this pandemic has come isolation, lack of routines, loneliness, anxiety and boredom for many individuals, all which, are risk factors for relapse.
Social support is crucial for maintaining sobriety, whereas social isolation is a risk factor for relapse. Unfortunately, meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, are closed due to the virus.
There are zoom meetings, but it is not the same as being in person with a likeminded group.
Diligence and proactivity is extremely important in order to maintain sobriety, especially during a challenging time such as this.
Being that we are still in the midst of a pandemic, with an unpredictable season ahead, I thought I would share a few things that I have found helpful for my mental sanity and recovery.
Helpful Tips To Stay Mentally Sane During COVID
Keep a routine. I can’t emphasize this enough. Due to unemployment and restrictions, many individuals have lost their daily routine. Because of this, people are spending more time engaging in energy draining activities, such as excessive videogaming, drinking, drugging, etc.
Even if you have to set your alarm every morning to get into a routine, do it! It might be challenging at first, but it’ll get easier, and it’ll be worth it.
Have something that you do every morning to establish a routine, such as drinking a cup of coffee, reading the newspaper, meditating or showering.
I like to start my mornings with an iced coffee and reading my Bible. This helps set my mind for the day.
Get outside. This has been my number one way of keeping my peace and sanity. Whether I go for a walk, jog, or just sit outside on a bench, being in the fresh air instantly lifts my mood.
However, I know this is difficult when we have record high temperatures and humid days, which we’ve had a lot of in New Jersey. A solution to this -wake up earlier or go outside in the evening.
Move. I know exercise can be a touchy subject for individuals recovering from eating disorders. When I say move, I do not mean working out excessively with the intent to burn calories, but do some form of movement to circulate your blood flow and boost your endorphins. (However, this does not apply to those who are not cleared by their doctor to exercise).
I personally love going on walks with my son and dog, and running alone just listening to good music. Both are very relaxing for me, depending on my mood.
Gratitude journal. I used to always keep a gratitude journal. I haven’t done it lately, but after writing this blog I think I’ll start again. I find it to be an effective way to keep your mind focused on the positives.
Write three things daily that you are grateful for.
Don’t complicate it.
Stay connected. Reach out to a friend or family member. See how they are doing. This will be helpful for the both of you.
Being around others is so important. If you are both comfortable, set up a date to grab a cup of coffee or lunch outside. Bring your mask. Respect each other’s standpoint on the virus.
If you are more comfortable staying in your home, zoom with a friend or family member.
Make that connection.
Make a home-cooked meal (with a loved one). Finding a recipe online and the preparation that goes into making it can be meditative for me. I enjoy gathering all of the ingredients and getting everything set up.
Although, I am not the best cook (I need to practice more), I really enjoy listening to music and preparing a meal with my husband. Thankfully my husband is an excellent cook. Hallelujah for me!
If being in the kitchen or around food more than necessary is still too triggering for your eating disorder recovery, please disregard this tip. It is suppose to be fun, not torturous!
If you are prescribed medication, take it! Working in a psychiatric hospital, I see so many admissions because patients have stopped taking their prescribed medications.
Many times an individual will stop taking their medication(s) because they feel better, but what they fail to realize is that they feel better because of the medication(s).
Also, maybe due to fear of not wanting to venture out because of the the virus, but individuals are not refilling their prescriptions. It needs to be a priority. Now is not the time to stop taking your medication unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
These are just a few things I have consistently engaged in during this pandemic that I have found to be effective for my overall mood and recovery journey.
I’d love to hear what activities and tips other people have been using during quarantine to keep their spirits uplifted (and aid in recovery).