Sobriety During COVID-19
Staying sober when you’re stressed is dependent on living life on life’s terms. How do we do that when life is turned completely upside down? Coronavirus and shelter at home orders have changed the day to day for everyone- even for essential workers or stay-at-home parents. Staying sober during Coronavirus is a new territory for those in recovery. Isolation, changes in routine, lack of resources, and decreased accountability can be deadly for an addict.
I have been sober for over three years, but the things I need to do to stay sober and healthy change because life evolves. This means finding new ways to meet all my needs and process reality in a healthy way instead of seeking escape. Escaping my feelings sounds great when I’m dealing with four kids alone, 24/7 while doing online learning, chasing a toddler, cooking and cleaning around the clock, and working. Staying sober when I’m stressed can feel like an endurance test.
Here are some things that work for me, based on my life and experience.
If you have other things that you need in your world or your recovery, have at it. I am not a believer in a one size fits all solution.
Watch for HALT signals
Hungry, angry, lonely, tired: locate your nearest child to see the total collapse that happens when they haven’t eaten or had a nap, or, god forbid, didn’t get something they wanted. Adults aren’t that different. Meeting basic needs is a crucial piece to staying sober because it keeps us stable and functioning. I don’t know about you, but it is HARD for me to think rationally when I need dinner. It’s just a thing.
Keep your regular routine or create a new one. Build time into that for self-care, like journaling, yoga, working out, meditation, recovery work, and chatting with friends. Self-care can be ridiculously hard as a parent, especially with schools and daycares closed. Even five minutes to reset, do a quick breathing exercise, 20 jump squats, or cry in the bathroom to a friend on messenger is helpful. Make to-do lists and organize your paperwork. Try getting up and getting ready for the day, even if that means new sweats and a ponytail.
Gratitude and giving
Do a daily gratitude list or focus one or two things every day to be thankful for. Sometimes setting something you’re thankful for in the morning can help to be more mindful throughout the rest of the day. Giving is also an effective way to get outside of yourself. Giving doesn’t have to mean money, if you don’t have it to spare. Giving can take many forms. Send a letter or message to someone who’s struggling. Listen when someone needs an understanding ear. Sit and hug a kid who is melting down. If you can bring groceries to someone who is homebound or pick up medications from a pharmacy for someone high-risk, do that.
Practice firm boundaries
We cannot be everything to everyone, especially when our kids or partners are home and our workload has increased. Staying sober during COVID-19 is harder, and that means more limits, not fewer.
It is not mean to say no. Saying no is self-care. Repeat that over and over. Practice it.
Saying no gets easier every time. I love this video by Brene Brown. Set boundaries- it can be life-saving. Staying sober when you’re stressed is easier if you delegate and don’t commit to things that don’t work for you. Practice putting your needs first when you can.
Stay accountable and connected
Being isolated or out of your regular routine can be alarming or triggering. It can shove an addict into a dangerous headspace or old ways of thinking. If you’re finding yourself thinking that this is a reasonable time for relapse, check in with your support system! If you’re triggered by the lack of accountability and the potential to “get away with” a relapse, remember the reasons you got sober to begin with. Connect with other people and say those things out loud.
Give yourself grace
You might mess up. You might make mistakes. Maybe you are yelling more than normal and your patience is short. Perhaps all you can do some days is just stay sober. That is okay. And if you relapse, reach out! There is no shame in needing help. We all fall. Let others help lift you back up. Every single day we have a chance to make new choices.
Need help staying sober when you’re stressed? Here are some links for things that I find helpful for self-care, healing, and intentional sober living:
Sobriety Programs and Resources
- Are you concerned about your drinking or coping mechanisms?
- 24/7 Addiction Helpline 1-800-662-HELP
- First Step– Milwaukee Detox Center
- Inpatient Rehab Centers in Milwaukee
- AA Online Meetings, including links and info to start your own online AA meetings or video meetings.
- Alternatives to AA– many secular groups
- 12-Step Group for Christians
- 12-Step Group for Muslims
- Jewish Addiction and Recovery Resources
- LGBTQ Recovery Resources
- Read books about sobriety and recovery from Bookshop to support small, local bookstores at the same time.
- Or, borrow e-books from the Wisconsin Public Library system
Facebook-based Recovery Support Groups
- Addiction Recovery Support Group
- From Sobriety, With Love
- Recovery Elevator
- Sober Nation
- Women in Recovery
- Free Meditation Apps
- Meditations for Alcoholics AA-Friendly
- Pure Rasa, I love her voice!
- The Honest Guys These guys have a good list of 20-minute meditations
- Addiction Therapists in Milwaukee
- TalkSpace, Unlimited messaging therapy, couples therapy, teen therapy, psychiatry, accepts EAPs and health plans, offers student plans.
- Therapists in Wisconsin
Free Yoga Channels on YouTube
Milwaukee Area Yoga Studios Offering Online Classes