how to manage recovery during covid-19

how to apply your recovery skills to self-isolating during a global pandemic

Although the COVID-19 global pandemic seems to be putting most of our lives temporarily “on hold,” it helps to look for the silver lining in our current situation. If you’re in recovery, you likely have ready access to many of the skills required to make self-isolating a little less intimidating. Familiarize yourself with your behavioral strengths and the lessons you’ve learned so you can help share that knowledge with others in the Boulder recovery community who might be struggling.

pay attention to — and manage — your thought processes.

Isolation can be challenging for anyone, but if you’ve ever participated in treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, you’ve probably encountered Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), which teaches you how to identify negative thought patterns. There’s no better time to hone your CBT skills, so listen closely to your thoughts and challenge those that lead you down a path of negativity.

look for the positives.

Keep a journal where you record everything you’re grateful for. Focusing on the positive life elements in a gratitude journal will help you steer clear of falling into a fear-based perspective that makes days harder than they need to be and self-care more difficult as well.

maintain a routine.

Yes, your quarantine routine will probably look vastly different than your pre-quarantine routine, but make sure your self-care doesn’t fall by the wayside. Get fresh air when you can, try to eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, and change out of your pajamas even if you’re not going anywhere for the day.

connect, connect, connect.

If you’re actively seeing a counselor, try to schedule telehealth meetings to keep your recovery momentum. Familiarize yourself with video calls and reach out to members of your sobriety support network and others in the Boulder recovery community via video to say hello and talk about the day’s events, as well as dig into anything recovery-related that’s challenging you.

tap into your coping skills to overcome frustration.

By now you probably know that stuffing your emotions is not the path forward; identifying how you’re feeling and validating those feelings will help you move through those emotions rather than dwell on them. Practice measures that have helped you whenever you felt anxious in the past, whether that’s taking a brisk walk, stretching or doing yoga, working on slow-breathing techniques, or even drawing a hot bath.

embrace your boundaries.

If you’ve been through residential or intensive outpatient treatment, the term “boundaries” should sound familiar. Remember that we set boundaries to foster healthy, positive relationships via open communication. If you need to tell your supervisor you’re not comfortable coming to work right now or that you need to reduce hours to care for relatives or children who are out of school, you need to do what’s right for you — without feeling guilty about it.

take it one day at a time.

Finally, although it may not feel like it, the quarantine won’t last forever. Refer to what you’ve learned from 12-step programs to maintain a healthy perspective on your current life challenges and remind yourself that this, too, shall pass.

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