We all know that community is an important part of sober living. In recovery, and in life in general, we need to feel that we belong to a community. We need to be heard and feel seen by others.
For someone just beginning their recovery journey, this presents a difficult challenge to overcome. Relationally, in this stage, they are asked to develop new relationships without the aid of their favored ‘social lubricant’ and navigate the old ones that may no longer be helpful to them in their goal to avoid relapse.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, those in any stage of recovery likely feel a heightened pressure to make all the right moves, and work to maintain their sobriety through this trying time. Of course, this is made difficult due to being cut off from social support, one’s regular schedule, and recovery meetings.
Many people rely on their meetings to find solidarity in a group of people walking through the same trials. Others who have devoted a large part of their week to attending various meetings and staying busy in the community may feel out of sorts and may allow for dangerous boredom to settle in.
All around us, there is an increase in stress, anxiety, isolation, loneliness, and boredom as the government encourages people to stay home as much as possible. Many people have lost their jobs, businesses, and financial security. All these factors can trigger a relapse and have left many in recovery feeling vulnerable and exposed.
It is important that we call on our hope, faith and personal resiliency during these trying times and continue to reach out and connect to our support systems.
How to stay connected to sober living with social distancing:
- Online Support Groups: Although many support groups have been canceled many of them have simply been moved online. Although this may not feel the same it is important to still give it a try. Stay connected to your local groups, and potentially meet in smaller groups or in outdoor settings.
- Online Teletherapy: We not only have access to support groups online, but we have access to counselors and other mental health professionals. Many people are moving their practice online. If you are struggling, you can set up a telephone or online video session with a therapist.
- Support Network: It is important to stay connected to your support network through the use of technology, whether it’s Facetime, Skype, or Zoom, there are plenty of video/chat programs designed to keep you connected. It may be helpful to specifically reach out to someone who can help keep you accountable during this time. Someone you feel safe confiding in and who can help keep you motivated and positive.
- Routine: Although your routine may have been thrown off due to no longer being able to leave your home as before, it is important you create a new schedule for yourself. Make sure you are going to bed at a regular hour and waking up in the morning around the same time each day. You want to be getting around 8 hours of sleep a night. Waking up and continuing with your hygiene routine as if you were leaving for the day can help you to feel put together and ready to be productive with your day. Make sure to schedule some time for self-care, and establish a regular check-in with a relative or friend on a regular basis.
- Gratitude: The practice of gratitude can help you shift your mood and help you to remain focused on the present. It can be easy to get caught up in everything we don’t have and everything we can’t do, however this only serves to make us more upset. Each day write down three things you are grateful for, that went well or that you are proud of. This practice will boost your mood and well-being. Try to think of different things each day and they can be as simple as my breakfast was delicious or gratitude for a conversation you had with a friend.
Now, it is more important than ever that we reach out to those we love and want to support. Although we may be separated by distance, we can still support each other through technology and spirit. Continue to work your program and to reach out for support when you need it. Also, connect to those you may feel need your help. Now is a time to embrace our collective humanity.