This past year has brought about so much change with curfews, socializing, even a simple thing as a hand shake or hug is no longer possible when you greet someone you have not seen in a long time. Covid-19 has created a list of added stressors with unemployment, health issues, financial strains, virtual education for children at home and social isolation. People have had to cancel vacations/trips, not able to spend time with family members especially elderly or friends. There have been changes in daily routines with restrictions in dining out, movie theaters, sports events, shopping, banking, many simple things we may have taken for granted have all changed.
Now with the holiday season here there can be added stress and anxiety with your daily routine especially in early recovery.
So how do you cope with these added stressors around the holiday season? First of all knowing that there are people out there in the same situation as you and that there is support. Even with many support groups not able to meet right now in person there are many different support groups you can find online that will be virtual – Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous meetings, Cocaine Anonymous etc.
Start limiting the amount of news you are watching throughout the day. Find certain times to watch the news updates, watching the news nonstop can cause more stress and anxiety. Find relaxing programs to watch like comedies, nature shows, or educational programs that you would enjoy.
Be on the lookout for any new thoughts and triggers, new triggers may come up as you are adapting to more time at home. There may be new programs you’re watching or different music you’re listening to that may be causing you to think about using substances. Having the awareness of any changes that you feel or unhealthy thinking will be helpful to explore and share. Get connected or stay connected to a sober support network as too much time spent alone can be a trigger. Be aware of any negative thoughts and acknowledge these thoughts, replace them with something you’re grateful for, positive thoughts or positive affirmations.
Mindfulness is a helpful tool in recovery. Knowing the present moment is real, the past is history and the future is filled with “What ifs”. Depression lives in the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” of the past. Anxiety dwells in the “what ifs” of the future. Meditation redirects us to pay attention to the present moment. There is an eight week online free program that is called Mindfulness Base Stress Reduction by Palouse palousemindfulness.com
Especially in these times with people having to quarantine or just limit social interactions this could be a great program to look in to. Another tool to use in recovery is SOBER Space to Stop, Observe, Breath, Expand your thoughts and Respond instead of reacting.
Having a regular routine and writing out a structured daily planner can be helpful. With simple routines like going to bed the same time every night, eating three meals a day, exercising on a regular basis-walking/hiking /yoga, meditation, socializing whether it is in person or calling on the phone or using Zoom, Facetime, Skype etc. Looking at spending more time on hobbies or interests you have like gardening, drawing, journaling, playing an instrument or baking/cooking are helpful healthy activities to continue or even begin. Reaching out to a sober support group, friends and family are even more essential at this time. Addictive thinking can sneak up on you when you least expect it so be on the lookout for signs of isolation and complacency!
One of the main things in recovery is to maintain your balance in all aspects of your life and if you feel that your balance is out of sync then take the time to find out why.
Enjoy and Happy Holidays!!!!