How to Stay Sober During a Pandemic
Everything has changed. The pandemic has caused anxiety, stress, hopelessness, and uncertainty due to fear, suffering, and death. Our daily lives have drastically changed due to stay at home orders, social distancing, loss of jobs and economic instability, and schooling and working from home.
Humans struggle with change. Our brains are inherently comfortable doing the same things over and over again. When everything changes in life, literally overnight, stress at varying degrees is normally the result. These times are especially difficult for those trying to stay sober. Increased stress is a major risk factor in relapse and is most certainly in the top 3 triggers for relapse for substance use disorders. Below are some helpful tips on how to stay sober during uncertain times.
Manage Your Stress
Increased stress is a major trigger for relapse, therefore having a stress management practice is essential. Create a stress management routine like it’s your job. Identify 3 stress management techniques that work for you and schedule them into your day. For example, my stress management practice includes exercising outside, meditation, and spending time with my family. I make an effort to do these 3 things every day.
in addition to a stress management practice, it is also extremely important to be getting adequate restful sleep, and eating in a way that nourishes your body. Spirituality is also an extremely helpful practice in managing stress because it reminds us that we are not alone in these stressful times and gives us a healthy well rounded perspective on life.
Stay Connected and Ask For Help
Staying connected has never been so important, and so easy. Relapse is a process that generally happens as a result of the accumulation of changes in how someone is thinking, feeling, and behaving that slowly isolates them from their support system. Many people rely on the face to face support they receive from family, sponsors, and friends from self help support groups. However, face to face contact is now limited or temporarily unavailable. It might be easy to use this as an excuse to not pursue zoom meetings, or connecting with friends virtually, however this can have dire consequences for those in recovery from substance use disorders. Now more then ever, it is extremely important to be willing to shift your interactions with others from face to face to virtual contact. Yes, it is not the same, but it is all we have. If you have not done so, go ahead and schedule into your weekly calendar times you will connect with friends and family and attend online meetings/self-help support groups.
Find a Routine and Stick to it
Most people in recovery from substance use disorders know how dangerous boredom, loneliness, and extended periods of down time can be for sobriety. Our day to day lives have changed, but that does not mean that you can’t create a new routine and schedule. Go ahead and make a weekly schedule for yourself, and be sure to include time for relaxation and self care.
Eliminate Access to Drugs and Alcohol
Most people in recovery from substance use disorders are familiar with the recommendation to avoid people, places, and situations that could expose you to alcohol, drugs, and other high risk behaviors. There’s nothing wrong with erring on the side of caution and putting that into practice now. It’s always a smart idea to be cautious about exposure to alcohol and drugs during times of stress and change. It’s an added level of precaution to ensure the safety of your sobriety.
These are just a few helpful hints on how to stay sober during a pandemic. Stay well and healthy and reach out anytime.