Six Strategies for Staying Connected while Socially Distancing

person in recovery sets up work station to stay connected

Six Strategies for Staying Connected while Socially Distancing

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To protect ourselves from the coronavirus, many of us are being told to isolate indoors when possible. This poses a unique challenge for those who suffer with addiction. Isolation is sneaky and it breeds addiction.

What’s important to note about social distancing is that you can rephrase it so physical distancing to make it more friendly of a term and help calm anxieties. Social distancing is what people with substance use disorder do too much of as it is – they remove themselves from society due to feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety, or low-esteem. So, how do you stay strong in your recovery while also being safe and smart about isolating – we’re sharing six strategies you can use to help get through this time.

  1. Stay connected. Even if you’re under stay-at-home orders from your local government, there are plenty of ways to remain in regular contact with family, friends, and your recovery community. Calling and video chatting are great to stay connected – it provides a voice at the end of the line instead of text on display. Pick your favorites and try to connect with them at least once a day, maybe even at the same time of day, so you get in the habit of it. And remember, being accountable to yourself and to others is a big part of recovery, and staying connected helps you do that.
  2. Build a daily routine you look forward to. This one nicely complements the stay-connected strategy, because a key part of your routine may be to stay in touch with others. But a good routine involves other things as well, such as:
    • Getting up at the same, reasonable time each day.
    • Setting up a dedicated work area you go to if you’re working from home.
    • Eating regular meals at designated times of the day, rather than snacking all day or eating dinner late at night.
    • Setting aside a time or times to connect with friends or loved ones.

Important note: Getting up each day with a schedule to follow tends to decrease anxiety and boredom, helps you keep from getting depressed, and it helps you maintain a sense of purpose.

  1. Be relentless – and yes, even selfish about nutrition and exercise. If there was ever a time and place to look after yourself, it’s now. Make healthy eating a priority – plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole-grain foods, low-fat dairy, and lean meats. At the same time, limit your intake of sweets, sugary drinks, and packaged/processed foods.

As for exercise, federal guidelines recommend getting 30 minutes or more of activity on most days of the week. Keep it simple, and make it fun. A fast walk to the park and back may do the trick. Or break up your activity into two sessions – one in the morning, and a second session in the evening before or after dinner.

  1. Limit your media consumption. Being bombarded by coronavirus updates all day long can be depressing and debilitating. We call it “media distancing”! Which, depending on how far gone you are with your media bingeing, might mean limiting yourself to 30 or 45 minutes a day of checking the news. Here are four more media-distancing tips:
    • Be specific and intentional about your media consumption. No mindless scrolling.
    • Read news from proven, trusted sources. Be wary of misinformation on social media.
    • Reset your feeds to more positive content–or at the very least delete some of your dependably negative ones.
    • Avoid news within an hour of bedtime. That’s right, no more quick peeks right before you hit the pillow.
  1. Get stuff done. The key here is taking advantage of time, which you may have more of if you’re working from home, are furloughed, or are working fewer hours each day. Because boredom loves addiction, and addiction loves boredom even more, now is a great time to do things like organize the photos on your phone, complete a home construction project, take an online coding or language class, or do a spring cleaning activity like Mari-Kondo-ing your closets! A tip? Start small, such as a task you can finish in a day or two, then gradually ramp up from there as you gain discipline.
  2. Help someone in need. The coronavirus pandemic is taking a toll, and a lot of people are hurting. With that in mind, consider offering your landscaping or cleaning services to a family member or friend, or volunteering once a week at the humane society, or delivering food or supplies to a nearby homeless shelter. Sad to say, but a quick online search will turn up plenty of opportunities for you to help with.