COVID-19 affects everyone. We are quarantined, socially distant, and unable to visit loved ones in medical care facilities. The world has been turned upside down. Throughout this trying time, we attempt to maintain a sense of normalcy in our daily routine. At times, trying to stay on track with our mental health or sobriety needs is overwhelming. Preserving the progress we made pre-COVID is possible when we follow a few steps.
Recognizing our needs is essential to our healing. Stable mental health is achieved through consistent care. COVID-19 places us in a precarious situation because treatment is disrupted. Instead of internalizing our emotions, we require contact with others. Reaching out to our therapist or groups anchors us to another person or people. Talking with others bolsters our mood; our minds are stimulated while discussing our anxieties, feelings of depression, or desire to abstain from alcohol or substances. We need to reach out to others because conversation is a catalyst to our brain’s feel-good chemicals. The release of serotonin and dopamine dampens negative emotions or cravings.
Scott is a life coach who was impacted by COVID-19. He couldn’t meet with his clients in-person and realized he was losing his sense of well-being.
“COVID-19 threw my routine off. I no longer had to be anywhere by a specific time. My habit of waking up, showering, eating, and leaving for work was gone. Working from home allows me more time to sleep in, and getting dressed isn’t as important. Without a routine or being around others, my mood darkened. I didn’t engage in activities; I slept a lot and stopped talking with my friends; everything was overwhelming. I realized I am alone.
Reaching out to my therapist is the best move I made. She can talk with me over an app. Before COVID-19, I didn’t think about telemedicine; now, I rely on it to keep me in touch with my therapist. My therapist and I agreed we should talk at least twice a week due to my depression. Telemedicine decreased my depression.
I know I can go to the office to see my therapist, but I feel safer continuing our telemedicine appointments. Once I feel secure, I might go back to the treatment center, but telemedicine offers a feeling of safety.”
As quarantine measures relax and we can meet with our loved ones or therapist, it’s okay to feel unsure about going to your treatment center. Call the center and ask about their COVID-19 protocols or continue your telemedicine sessions.
Groups haven’t stopped meeting - many have moved to online sessions. Online group meetings include mental health or recovery guidance. Check with your treatment center to see what group sessions they offer online. Searching for groups online is a viable resource for connecting with others. Mental Health agencies or recovery organizations such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous provide help. Log in to the group sessions and join the conversation. Sharing your feelings and concerns with others builds connections and friendships.
Being involved in an online group creates contact with others, but don’t forget to keep in touch with your therapist. Our initial thought about online groups being enough overlooks our need to attach our sessions’ work in a group. In some cases, our therapist can advise us against or support a group’s suggestions. Combining group sessions and individual therapy appointments are the foundation for comprehensive care.
Nora is a teacher and a soccer coach. Quarantine restrictions impacted her personal and public life.
“Before COVID-19, I was always in such a rush. I followed my routine religiously. Different activities I wanted to try were impossible because my schedule didn’t allow the time. Suddenly, COVID 19 grounded me in my house. I had too much time. At first, I watched tv, a lot of tv, but boredom crept in and settled. I craved something to keep me occupied.
People joked about binge-watching shows and day drinking. I wasn’t kidding. My cravings grew each day. The urge to fall into old behavior patterns became too much. I didn’t give in to those feelings; I sought help. I called my therapist and discussed my mental health and the cravings, and we set up a safety plan.
My routine now includes walking in the morning instead of driving to work. When my office re-opens, I will continue to walk in the morning. The feeling of peace I have when I walk prepares me for the rest of the day. I am active in online groups; Sometimes, a group meeting stirs up memories. When I talk with my therapist, we discuss my emotions, what I learned, or any memories. The combination of group and individual therapy keeps me focused on my mental health.”
Being at home may pose difficulties in following daily, familiar routines. Yet, a routine is what keeps us grounded. We no longer need to commute to work or perform other morning routines. Instead of throwing away our practice, we can replace some of our old activities. Calculate how long your commute is, and instead of commuting to work, exercise, read, journal, or find something that brings you joy. We all need a way to channel our feelings of depression, anxiety, or cravings. Activities that keep our minds stimulated help us overcome negative emotions and improve our well-being.
Our mental, physical, and spiritual health are essential for us to remain positive. We aren’t selfish when we talk with our therapist, start a new activity, or engage in group sessions. Staying connected with positive influences who want to encourage our continued journey towards well-being is essential.
COVID-19 restrictions are relaxing, but we can feel the need to continue to stay at home. Our physical, mental, and spiritual health relies on our ability to connect with those who support our health. Talking with others, whether through an online discussion or group, maintains our sense of stability. Reaching out to our therapist and scheduling telemedicine appointments protect us from mental and physical harm. Depression, anxiety, alcohol, or substance cravings are difficult to cope with when we feel alone. We build health by acknowledging our feelings and seeking help. Our therapist or treatment center can accommodate our therapeutic needs. Maintaining a routine, even when it’s not the same as the one we had before COVID-19, is essential. Discuss alternatives, experiment with activities, exercise, or increase therapy sessions. COVID-19 has disrupted our lives, but we are strong enough to know when we need assistance. SokyaHealth is available 24/7 to schedule an appointment. Call us at 866-932-1767.