As COVID-19 cases surge across the country, there has been speculation that this winter will involve a heavy emphasis on social distancing. Limiting our contact with others is the best way to prevent the spread of the virus. However, people in recovery need to stay connected with others; isolation can be one of the biggest triggers of relapse. Today, we’ll give you some helpful tips for how to overcome loneliness this winter.
Make a Schedule to Combat Isolation
It may seem silly, but we recommend that you plan out when you will video chat or call your loved ones. Being intentional about your social life can help you to find a regular rhythm. This provides you with accountability, as well as something to look forward to each week. Additionally, if someone is expecting to hear from you, they will be able to set aside time for an in-depth conversation. Making a schedule of your Zooms, calls, and even texts can be a helpful way to stay connected during the winter months of COVID-19.
Join an Online Forum
If you’re feeling lonely and it seems like everyone else is busy, you can always make some new friends. Join an online forum on a subject you’re passionate about. There are groups for everything – recovery, photography, music, television shows – so you’re sure to find a corner of the internet with people who share your interests. In these chat rooms, you can share tips, learn something new, and connect with others 24 hours a day. Online groups can be a great way to expand your circle and occupy your time.
Participate in Meetings
Meetings are an important aspect of recovery, and in the wake of COVID-19, they have become more accessible than ever before. Not only do they increase your accountability, but they also prevent you from experiencing isolation when you’re home alone. There are plenty of online meetings available for both AA and NA. You can also encourage your family members to participate in Al-Anon or similar support organizations. If you would like some encouragement or fellowship, we encourage you to attend a virtual 12-Step meeting.
Beat Isolation by Getting Active
Exercise is especially critical during the long, cold winter months. Resist the urge to remain sedentary and get moving! If you’re undaunted by the snow, you can go on a run around the neighborhood. For those of us who prefer to stay warm indoors, we recommend yoga, strength training, or body weight fitness. Find a way to stay active for at least thirty minutes a day, five times per week.
Learn a New Skill
Spending time alone doesn’t have to be lonely! Instead of giving in to boredom, find a way to occupy your mind this winter. The best way to stay busy and excited about your future is to learn something new. If you’ve always wanted to become a great cook, now is the time! Get some cookbooks from the library, pick up some ingredients, find an instructional video on YouTube, and get started! The next few months are the perfect opportunity to learn an instrument, hone your chess game, grow some houseplants – the options are limitless.
Rekindle Old Friendships in Isolation
Addiction changes many of our relationships, and in recovery, we may begin to repair them. You may have lost contact with friends from high school, college, or previous jobs. This winter may be the best time to reach out and rekindle those friendships. You may feel guilty about what happened between the two of you. You may also feel bad that the two of you haven’t spoken in a long time. Don’t be nervous! If you believe it would be helpful (not harmful) to speak with that person, and that your friendship will enrich both of your lives, go ahead and send a text or make a phone call. Tis the season.
Be Flexible About Your Traditions
Last week, we wrote about how to have a safe and sober Thanksgiving this year. The same recommendations apply to our upcoming winter celebrations, including Christmas, Hanukkah, and others. Instead of trying to have the perfect family Christmas, for example, embrace the changes we have experienced during 2020. Make plans to pull up an all-day video chat, send funny cards, or play games with your loved ones from afar. Adapting to your circumstances can help you to stay positive, decrease feelings of isolation, and spend some time with the people who mean the most to you.
Your Partner in Recovery
At Lakeside-Milam, we have helped more than 100,000 people to find recovery. We provide the complete continuum of care, from withdrawal management to aftercare, and we are standing by to help. Winter doesn’t have to mean isolation; if you or someone you love could use a little extra support this season, please contact us today.