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Zepf Center News

How to Maintain your Recovery in Isolation & Singing on the Porch like the Italians

Published Tuesday, March 17, 2020
by Zepf Center Staff

If you’ve been following your twitter feed this week you may have noticed some beautiful expressions of “community” amidst the mandate of “social isolation.” Neighbors, becoming lonely, offering support through their voice and shared experience via their balcony; watch one here: 

https://twitter.com/valemercurii?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnbc.com%2F2020%2F03%2F14%2Fcoronavirus-lockdown-italians-are-singing-songs-from-balconies.html

These heart-warming videos are giving us a deeper glimpse into human nature, which longs to connect with others.  If you are a person in recovery, though, a tendency to isolate may result in feelings of loneliness, detachment, increased substance use, or lack of accountability and healthy supports.  The fact that our society is now under a required social isolation could challenge many people’s personal recovery by removing community and connections that help them to stay healthy.

Zepf Center staff explore some ideas about what can be done to overcome the challenges of isolation:

1.      Don’t deny your feelings.  You may have friends saying this is not a “big deal” or “just a common cold,” but the fact remains that a social isolation for someone in recovery is hard, not to mention the anxiety that comes with not knowing the future.  Allow yourself to feel however you feel without any explanation needed.  Expressing your feelings during stressful times is a key to staying healthy because you are validating what’s going on instead of holding it all in.  Talk to someone you trust about this, and if that’s not possible, write it down in a journal.  When you’re done, meditation is an amazing way to center your thoughts. https://www.calm.com/signup-flow

 

2.      Take it one week at a time.  Instead of watching the news non-stop and trying to anticipate the future of every press conference, simply take things one week at a time.  Treat each week as a solo event and give yourself a new goal each week.  Can you take out the guitar from your basement and create a goal of learning 5 chords by watching youtube?  Maybe organize the old photo albums in the attic?  Divide out your time in blocks and give yourself goals during that time.

 

3.      Utilize web-based meeting tools.  Do everything you can to stay connected even though you are physically separated from others.  There are many virtual meetings available online every day of the week: http://aa-intergroup.orghttps://www.smartrecovery.org. https://www.intherooms.com/home/

4.      Keep a routine schedule.  Although it would be very easy to allow your sleeping and eating schedule to become chaotic during this time, a routine is something that will help your body to regulate and provide some semblance of normalcy to you.

5.      Stay connected to those you love.  Be intentional about your relationships during this time, as everyone needs support during times of stress, especially people in recovery.  Don’t be scared to ask for what you need, even if it’s asking someone to call you every day to check on you.  Skype with someone you haven’t seen in a long time.  Gather together your friends from school for a virtual reunion.  

 

6.      Stay active.  Although this may be difficult when in isolation, research has proven the many positive effects of exercise for people in recovery to maintain a balanced brain chemistry. One to try online is Yoga for people in recovery: https://sherecovers.co/yoga-with-taryn-strong/. Utilize free workout videos on cable or youtube stations to keep you moving and active, even if you’re inside all day.

Remember that the people around you may not realize that isolation is not healthy for someone who has previously struggled with addiction.  You may have to educate them about this, and let them know that you will need extra help during this time.

Stay connected, even if you’re just reading stories to your niece on Skype, or listening to a recovery meeting online.  Connection to those you love and the support you need is what will help you to get through this time with a song in your heart, like the Italians singing from their porches.

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