Things have changed a lot recently, for most everyone across the world. Daily routines and schedules have been upended. Anxieties are running high and fear has crept into the spaces that routine and comfort used to fill.
We want to stay informed; in fact we need to. But the world, its leaders, and its everyday people are dealing with something that is constantly changing because it is new. It’s a tricky situation, because when we have finally processed what we think is the normal, we learn something different. There is little room for comfort in the entire process. News, social media, and the like are abuzz with ideas, theories, and what we know as facts (for now). Throw politics on top of the mix, and you indeed have a recipe for unrest.
It’s hard not to focus on the negatives, the fear, and the sadness that many of us feel these days. In fact it’s quite difficult for many people to focus on anything, much less their recovery, during a pandemic. In spite of all of the negativity, there are some amazing things happening in the world around us right now. There are people coming forward, stepping up, and reaching out to help their fellows, and that is a beautiful thing. It’s uplifting, and we all need a positive boost right now. From the story of the man using his savings to put gas in healthcare worker’s vehicles, to the woman who cooks upwards of 80 meals a day to take to those who are considered most vulnerable in her community. People are making masks and 3-D printing respirators to donate to hospitals. The stories of hope and of kindness are out there, but they are usually overshadowed by the rising numbers and the statistics; the fear that is undeniable and in your face when you open your phone’s browser or scroll through Facebook.
Recovery During a Pandemic: Self-Care
What can you do if you are struggling right now? It has been proven time and time again that self-care is absolutely crucial to maintaining a person’s wellbeing. What does that look like in today’s world and in these challenging times? What does recovery during a pandemic look like? Self-care can look different for each of us, of course, but there are several areas that must be addressed. Below are some ideas and things to consider.
- Are you sleeping enough? Could you be sleeping too much? Balance is not often easily achieved in the most normal of times, but making an effort to address your sleep patterns right now is a necessity.
- Are you eating well? Stress eating is common, and reaching for comfort foods is completely normal, but can leave you feeling worse. Paying attention to what we put in our bodies right now can make a huge difference in how we feel.
- Are you lonely? Are you self-isolating because you are down, or maybe being made to isolate? This is a tough one. Many people are missing the interactions they have become accustomed to and this can lead to loneliness and depression. Use the tools you have available to you to reach out and connect with people you are missing right now. They need to hear from you as much as you are needing someone. We all are. Video chat, text, or call.
- Are you missing the gym? Exercise helps us all feel better for many reasons, and if that part of your routine has been interrupted, it can take a toll as well. If you can, go for a walk, or even a jog. If you are unable to walk much, due to health issues, try stretching a couple of times a day. Be sure to get up, and move around; get your blood flowing.
- Are you spending time with your Higher Power? Again, this looks different for everyone, but taking time each day to pray and meditate can help keep you centered mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Don’t have a Higher Power? There are other ways to ‘connect’. What’s your favorite band, musician, or album? Do you have a favorite artist or book? Take some quiet time, offline, to breathe, connect, or let go of everything external for a while.
- Are you missing meetings and your recovery community? Recovery during a pandemic certainly looks and feels different, but you can still participate. Try an online meeting, via Zoom or another platform. Most fellowships, such as AA, NA, Celebrate Recovery, Al-Anon, and more are offering online meetings. Not your cup of tea? Reach out to people you know are in recovery. Check on them! When we are thinking of others, we aren’t stuck in our own heads.
- Are you spending too much time online? As previously mentioned, it’s important to stay up to date with current affairs, but too much information can be damaging to your mental and emotional wellbeing–especially right now. Consider limiting the time you spend on social media and see if it improves your outlook.
There is no question that these times are challenging. They are for everyone. People in recovery and those that have mental health concerns, such as depression and anxiety are especially affected right now. Some people are out of work and worried about making rent and putting food on the table. Others are working overtime in unimaginable conditions. Most of us aren’t able to visit family and friends, and some people have experienced losing loved ones during this time. It’s overwhelming. But you will get through this.
Start with self-care. Take measures to improve how you feel, but remember to be kind to yourself. Rest assured that not everyone with time on their hands right now has a spotless house. Anxiety, fear, depression, and even anger are all valid emotions that each of us have had and that we will go through, to varying degrees. Consider some of the questions listed above. Add to them, or make your own list. What can you do to feel better? How can you help yourself and others right now? Always, keep in mind that you are not alone.