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Sober Nation

Putting Recovery On The Map

03-21-20 | By

Why Being In Recovery is an Advantage During The COVID-19 Outbreak.

With the global pandemic of COVID-19 spreading and our day-to-day lives being interrupted or heavily altered, it might feel uniquely challenging to be in recovery, especially since so many activities are being delayed or cancelled. If that’s what you’re going through right now, it’s 100% understandable, but people in recovery have huge advantages over the general population when it comes to handling the day-to-day changes from this pandemic. Here are some examples of how your recovery will benefit you, and how you can help people you love, during this global crisis.

You Know How to Manage Your Mind

People in recovery are trained to recognize automatic thoughts and challenge unhelpful patterns of thinking. Identifying thoughts and learning how to make your thoughts work in your favor is essentially Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), the gold standard of addiction treatment right now. Most people that have done residential or outpatient treatment have encountered some kind of cognitive-behavioral intervention, and have learned how to practice catching thoughts that lead to negative consequences. As a person in recovery, you have been working on developing skills and abilities to manage the thoughts in your brain to maintain your sobriety.

How to help yourself and others:

  • Journal. Writing down what’s in your brain can allow you to tease apart your thoughts and emotions so you can slow down the thought-feeling-action cycle.
  • Share with family and friends what you’ve learned from your recovery practice about catching and changing negative thought patterns.
  • Continue to reach out to sober supports, whether it’s a sponsor, therapist, or other sober community members. It’s sometimes easier to recognize someone else’s negative patterns so connecting with others for accountability can be really useful in high-stress times.

You Know How to Surender Your Will

Mandatory quarantine and social distancing can suck. Restriction is hard for people, and people that haven’t had to do the work of recovery aren’t well versed in giving something up for the greater good. People in recovery have this quality on lock. You know what it’s like to give up on a lifestyle to better yourself and the people you love. Social distancing and isolating from groups is a great time to commune with your higher power, practice gratitude, and explore how giving up your will is in everyone’s best interest.

How to help yourself and others:

  • Be vocal about the gift of surrender. Share on social media about how letting go of desires in your recovery have helped your life. You might inspire someone to make a choice that keeps them safe and healthy.
  • Maintain or increase time with your higher power. Whether you do daily devotionals, yoga, meditation, whatever your preferred practice is, keep doing it!
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Helping to keep perspective about what we have to be thankful for can be useful in maintaining self-care practices and out of a fear-based mindset.

You Know How to Use Coping Skills to Overcome Urges and Boredom

Social distancing is isolating. Not being able to go out and be with people, having to forego in-person meetings and connecting with others in restaurants and coffee shops is hard. Even going to the grocery store seems risky. Who better than a person in recovery to share how to overcome urges and boredom? If you’ve been in a residential or intensive outpatient program, you’ve probably had some times when you’ve felt bored and annoyed with the lack of activity. As a person in recovery you have skills to cope with the negative emotions that might come with boredom and social distancing like disappointment, frustration, sadness, and fear. Utilize your positive coping skills to manage your situation and teach others who aren’t in recovery your favorite tricks to pass the time without having cabin fever.

How to help yourself and others:

  • Maintain perspective. Life won’t be like this forever and the better we adhere to restrictions the safer we will all be.
  • Allow yourself to feel the negative feelings. Having things cancelled is disappointing. Not being able to go to concerts, movies, or even the library is a bummer. Feel the frustration, disappointment, anger, and fear, and move through those emotions.
  • Increase self-care activities. Read a trashy novel. Take a hot bath. Video chat your best friend. Change OUT of your pajamas if you are staying home for the day. Do the things can help you feel better and like a member of society, even in this social distancing time.

You Know How to Set and Maintain Boundaries

Setting boundaries with people, places and things is part of recovery 101. Learning how to say no. Not overextending yourself. Letting go of people’s expectations. Those are all skill sets you learn in recovery. During the Coronavirus outbreak, we all need to say “no” to things that might put us at risk. You may need to use assertiveness skills to tell someone to stay home from work, or tell your boss you need time off to keep your family safe. It’s okay to set limits with family or friends about spending time together. You will probably encounter new boundaries put in place by regulators. You know how to handle a boundary, and you understand from learning to set boundaries how important they are to maintaining healthy relationships.

How to help yourself and others:

  • Remember that “No.” is a complete sentence. You don’t have to justify your boundary because someone wants to cross it.
  • Take time to examine your boundaries. Are you setting a boundary to build a relationship? Or are you using a boundary as a tool to avoid conflict? Take the time to explore the purpose of your boundary.
  • Remember that boundaries are in constant negotiation. Boundaries are designed to help encourage healthy relationships, and a key component of a healthy relationship is communication.

This is a new era that we are living in right now. A global pandemic is scary, and we are all facing something that is unprecedented in our lifetimes.  Change can be hard. As a person in recovery you have so many skills that have help you live a better life. These strategies and tools are directly transferrable to the situation the whole world finds itself in right now. Use what you know, and work the program that’s helping you maintain your recovery. Hopefully you can teach others a thing or two as we figure this out together, one day at a time.

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