The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has drastically altered our way of life in the United States and upended the daily routines of people all across the country. States have each taken different measures depending on the ebb and flow of the increased severity of community transmission of the disease, and Colorado has not been immune to these quarantining efforts.
Whether you are a full-time working parent now turned part-time teacher with the kids at home or an isolated individual who has switched the drive-time commute for a home office, Americans have all had to alter their “normal” routine this year to adapt to the measures taken to curb the spread of COVID-19. For individuals in recovery or those still struggling to maintain sobriety during quarantine, altering their routine can have the unfortunate side effect of triggering recovery patients and even potentially causing them to relapse.
Unintended Negative Consequences
From lock-downs to mask mandates, the quarantine measures have taken their toll on the community almost as much as the virus itself. The measures taken throughout the 2020 year have been influential in saving lives and protecting the community, but they have not always been easy, especially from a mental health perspective.
The safety and well-being of the most vulnerable citizens is always the number one priority, but that does not mean quarantining efforts have not had some unintended negative consequences. Humans are social beings and the degree of unplanned isolation alone that many have dealt with this year has caused and exacerbated mental health problems in the community. Initial studies are showing that stress over the Coronavirus has already caused individuals to experience adverse effects, such as difficulty sleeping or eating, increases in alcohol consumption or substance use, and worsening of chronic health conditions.
For individuals in recovery, these negative psychological effects can be twice as impactful; the pandemic pressures of quarantining are a potentially dangerous set of stressors being added to the already full-time job of maintaining sobriety. There is a faint glimmer of some hope, a light at the end of the tunnel, with promising news on the efficacy of multiple vaccines that were rolled out in December, but many of the quarantine efforts will stay in effect throughout the winter months and well into spring.
So the question remains for those who are in recovery–what can you do to actively promote a healthy lifestyle and maintain sobriety during the ongoing pandemic with quarantine measures expected to last through the winter? Here are some easy steps you can take in 2021 to not only start but also maintain healthy habits throughout the year, even as restrictions let up.
Make Your House a Home to All Your Interests
It is pretty common knowledge about the importance of creating a safe space at home for addiction recovery patients. The idea of making your house a home is hardly a novel approach to recovery treatment, but with more Americans spending the majority of their time in the home during quarantine, there is an increased precedent and need for all individuals, especially recovering addicts, to make additional efforts to create a safe and comfortable living space to promote healthy habits and maintain sobriety. This can be as simple as having a comfortable armchair to sit in while reading the news or watching the television. It can also involve surrounding your shelves and walls with photos of loved ones or even some favorite artwork.
Creating a safe and welcoming living space does not stop with the physical decor of the room either. Virtual access has opened up an entire world of information and entertainment accessible through the internet. If there was ever an “ideal” time for a pandemic, it seems that now could have been the time as the modern world and all its technological advances have opened up a plethora of opportunities and events accessible right from your home.
If you enjoy art, a variety of museums have opened up online galleries that you can peruse for free and at your leisure; some of these include the Guggenheim which can be accessed through Google street view or the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. If you enjoy browsing through bookstores, there is a large selection of online literary communities and events that can be accessed online through organizations like Lithub and Goodreads. And if you miss going to the movies then make a simple effort like watching a movie, into an event for the evening. There are even virtual concerts streamed live online that you can attend, many of which are free/donation-based to watch.
Nothing will replace the social interaction and real-world experience of any of these events, but filling your current world, albeit limited to your home, with your interests can go a long way in avoiding the monotony of quarantine life and maintaining sobriety.
Create a New Routine
Your old routine has been interrupted for the time being, so it is important that you take the steps to make a new routine. Routine and structure have continuously been proven to be effective measures in maintaining sobriety. If you are a recovering addict, you have already shown that you are good at making habits, so turn those habits into healthier versions.
These actions can be as simple as making the bed in the morning or sitting down for breakfast and coffee before getting ready for the day. If you are working from home, set times for showing up and get ready for the day as if you were leaving for work. Designated structure is a simple measure that effectively promotes a healthier lifestyle and sobriety.
Outdoor Activity and Exercise
We know that exercise is not for everyone, and of course, it is easier said than done, especially for those dealing with the potential onset of depressive disorders during the quarantine. However, any amount of outdoor activity that has been proven to be a relatively safe activity during the pandemic can help ward off depression and maintaining sobriety. So take a simple walk around the block or do some yoga in the living room. And above all else, be sure not to overdo the exercise angle and burn yourself out.
You may be isolated, but that does not mean you have to go without human connection. As we previously mentioned, humans are social beings and need interaction to promote mental health and well-being. A variety of online communities are available through Facebook and Reddit, many of which are geared particularly for recovering addicts. And if you are not comfortable with online communities, then make a phone call to a loved one or friend at least once a week.
If you or someone you know is struggling with maintaining sobriety during quarantine, Choice House is here to help. We offer multiple healthy-lifestyle options to promote sobriety with a focus on creating a solid foundation of love and trust for males re-entering their communities. Located in Boulder County in Colorado, Choice House operates both a 90-day in-house treatment facility, an intensive outpatient program, and an outpatient sober living campus where trained staff work with recovering addicts to achieve and maintain their sobriety through dual diagnosis treatment methods and outdoor activities. The Choice House Campus is located right outside the Rocky Mountain National Park which is an ideal location for our organization’s reliance on adventure wilderness therapy; the outdoor therapy model takes men isolated by addiction and substance misuse and brings them together through rewarding outdoor activities like hiking, rock climbing, etc. We believe that the foundation of a healthy recovery from addiction involves creating lasting bonds with the men who share this journey with you. And when it comes time to transition back to a more independent, working lifestyle, Choice House facilities are just minutes from the bustling downtown area of Louisville. Find out more information about Choice House facilities and treatment by calling us at (720) 577-4422.