The Unique Challenge of COVID-19
Until just a few months ago, most of us had never heard of coronavirus: the novel flu responsible for a worldwide pandemic. Today, news outlets bombard citizens with cautionary tales about transmission, information about a crumbling stock market, and warnings to self-isolate as much as possible. This constant messaging, compounded by the effects of self-quarantine, has created a unique challenge for people in recovery, especially those with anxiety disorders. We’ve put together some of our best advice for managing your anxiety during a pandemic.
Check in with Yourself
The first step of battling coronavirus anxiety is to keep an eye on your mental state. Remember your lessons from the recovery rooms: H.A.L.T. when things get stressful. None of us has navigated a situation like this before, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to handle well. By reflecting on your feelings, perhaps in the form of journaling, you can identify what’s making you anxious and address it directly.
Don’t Spend All Your Time Online
Many of us have turned to social media and the world wide web during these uncertain times, whether for news about the pandemic or our friends and family. However, constantly absorbing information about the spread of COVID-19 may do more harm than good. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that you moderate your media diet. In other words, set aside 15 to 30 minutes each morning for coronavirus-related news, then do your best to abstain for the rest of the day. Doing this will keep you informed without contributing to overwhelming feelings of stress or anxiety during a pandemic.
Redirect Your Thoughts
William James, the famed father of American psychology, once said that our greatest weapon against stress is the ability to choose one thought over another. He’s completely right; you can choose the things that you think about, even if anxiety makes this seem impossible in the moment. You can redirect your thoughts in several ways, either by distracting yourself with calming activities (such as hiking, listening to relaxing music, or practicing breathing exercises) or presenting yourself with a positive statement instead. For example, if you’re thinking about what could go wrong, instead consider what could go right. Learning to identify and redirect negative thoughts can go a long way towards battling anxiety during a pandemic.
As new information becomes available, our daily lives change, too. Shelter-in-place orders and workplace closures have doubtless gone into effect in your area, and you may experience reduced access to group meetings or other healthy coping mechanisms. Be sure that you’re taking care of yourself in little ways throughout this time to keep coronavirus anxiety from building up. Whether it takes the form of making art, running a hot bath, exercising, or writing out your feelings, self-care is paramount during these uncertain times.
Reach Out to Others
As we discussed in a previous blog, connecting with others has become more important than ever before. Since in-person meetings have been discontinued and events have been cancelled, consider chatting with your loved ones via Skype, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts. You can even combine these calls with a fun activity, like a shared yoga lesson or free online game. By staying in touch with friends and family, you’ll banish feelings of loneliness and anxiety that can arise in self-quarantine.
Prioritize Your Recovery
This is the perfect time to prioritize your recovery in creative ways. For example, many people are joining AA and NA meetings by phone or video call. You can also access outpatient addiction treatment through HIPAA-compliant telehealth services, such as those offered by Lakeside-Milam. In your free time, consider listening to recovery-centered podcasts or reading inspirational literature. By taking steps to put your recovery first, you’ll feel confident in maintaining sobriety during COVID-19.
Managing Anxiety During a Pandemic
The novel coronavirus has changed life drastically for all of us. As we navigate these uncertain times, it is vital that those in need of addiction treatment continue to receive it. Lakeside-Milam has responded proactively to COVID-19, offering telehealth services and safe, clean facilities for inpatient treatment.
If you have questions about addiction and anxiety during a pandemic, we encourage you to reach out to our compassionate admissions staff today. We’ll get through this together.