Written by Karen Pontious
During times of uncertainty it’s difficult to know how to lead a normal life. As coronavirus spreads it's recommended that we stay distant to help control the situation.
This means events and big gatherings have been cancelled and we’re advised to stay home and practice “social distancing.” This not only takes a toll on our everyday lives but can have a huge impact on our recovery.
In this article we are going to talk about how to take extra care of our mental health during challenging times.
Physical distancing not social distancing
Currently everyone is talking about practicing “social distancing.” This means that we have to decrease our physical contact with others but this doesn’t mean we have to completely isolate ourselves from one another. In today’s society we have technology to keep us connected even when we can’t be in the same room.
Besides technology we are seeing creative ways to connect and support each other during this global quarantine. In Italy and Spain people are singing from their balconies. Here, stores are opening hours exclusively for seniors and disabled people. This shows us we can find safe and creative ways to connect from a physical distance.
This is incredibly true for our recovery process. We need to be creative and open to making adjustments to keep up with our recovery plan. To help you be successful we want to offer some sobriety tips to avoid relapse during these uncertain times.
Top 10 tips for managing your mental health during isolation
1) Stay connected
Take this time to talk with family, friends, your fellow community or even a pet — whoever it is, you’re not alone. Even though we’re asked to stay away from one another, we are all in the same boat and we’re all here to help. During our regular routine we tend to focus on our daily tasks and commitments which can prevent us from finding time to reach out to the people around us.
Right now our priorities are changing. This is the perfect time to reach out to those who matter to you.
2) Pick up the phone
Just because in person group meetings and events are out of the question for the time being doesn’t mean you’ll be cut off from your community. At Avalon we have various alternative options to connect during this time.
Coffee hour: Centre Managers are hosting live drop-in support via telephone from Monday to Friday.
- North Shore Coffee Hour: 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
- Vancouver Coffee Hour: 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- White Rock Coffee Hour: 9 a.m. to 10 a.m
12-step meetings over the phone: attend your regular meetings on the phone at your scheduled time. See our meeting schedule for dial-in details.
Facebook chat: You can get support from our Centre Managers via Facebook Messenger anytime you need or feel like reaching out.
While we generally have overactive minds as is it you may feel overwhelmed with all the news around coronavirus. The best way to clear your mind and reset is to mediate. Even when you feel distracted or unmotivated I highly encourage you to give it a shot because the most important time to meditate is to do it when you least want to.
There are many ways to meditate and it doesn’t have to be cross-legged on a $80 yoga cushion. There are free apps you can use to guide you through your meditation or you can simply set a kitchen timer for five, 10, or 15 minutes and take a well-needed mental reset.
4) Journaling: Write out your uncensored thoughts
Putting pen to paper can be a very therapeutic process. Every day we have so many thoughts floating in our minds and conversations with ourselves that can impact our mood.
When you take the time to journal your thoughts without thinking about what you’re going to write, you can gain insight to where these thoughts are coming from and better understand what’s going on around you. This is also a good way to track your habits and manage your new routine during this time.
5) Try something new
Since our regular routines are being held hostage why not take advantage and dedicate your time to do something you’ve always wanted to do but never had time for. I know you may feel limited given that you can’t join any classes or even go outside but there are many things you can do from the comfort of your home.
Play a musical instrument, read more, practice yoga, or take a free online course. Spend time with your creative side and create something, anything. You could draw, paint, write, dance there’s so many things just waiting for you to give them a try.
Or simply just relax. You don’t have to feel pressured to do anything. Instead your something new could be taking a well deserved break.
6) Turn off the news
There is tons of research telling us that social media and news negatively impacts our mood. Right now this is extremely relevant as we are constantly being inundated with information. We of course need to stay up to date with the news and those around us but please be wary of how much time you expose yourself to social media.
7) Don’t forget to get fresh air
Just because we need to distance ourselves from others right now doesn’t mean we have to stay locked inside 24/7. We can still distance ourselves and get some fresh air and for a walk and enjoy the sunshine.
Of course, please take the necessary precautions by washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough and sneeze and avoiding touching hard surfaces. (Although, if you’re sick the best thing you can do for yourself and others is to stay inside until you’re better.)
8) Catch up on movies and TV series
I’m not saying this means you should spend all day everyday in front of the TV. Please don’t do that, even though I’ve been tempted to do that myself.
Try to limit watching TV to the evenings after you’ve done some of the other tips on this list. Here’s a list of some great recovery movies to add to your queue. If you’re a Netflix watcher, Chrome has an extension called Netflix Party so you can still have a movie night with friends from a distance.
9) Don’t forget your health
With all this uncertainty around us this can cause us to resort to unhealthy habits like, unhealthy eating, lack of exercise,and lack of sleep. We need to prioritize our health during these times. Remember to drink lots of water, get enough sleep, exercise at home and maintain a balanced diet filled with fruits and vegetables.
10) Make a plan
When facing uncertainty, it can be difficult to adjust to the sudden challenges so you want to be prepared. Dedicate time to properly prepare during this time. Your self-care is of utmost importance and together we can make a plan that best suits you.
You know yourself better than anyone and you know which of the above tips you will actually be able to do and will find useful. Remember that you are not alone, and we are here to support you. Make your mental health a priority. Stay safe and stay healthy!
Karen Pontious is a professional communicator working on her dream to be a freelance writer and editor. She is currently completing a summer placement with Avalon Recovery Society.
Her passion is intercultural relations and communication. She writes about relationships, immigration stories, gender norms, and mental health.