We keep hearing about this “unprecedented” time in our world. In this season where we are all distancing ourselves from others to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, I wanted to write a few notes about how to maintain recovery during such a stress. If you are in recovery from sex addiction, use these 5 tips to help you maintain your recovery during this crisis:
1. Continue (or build) new routines
Routines are really important in recovery. You may have been a part of a 12-step community or other support group, but you are now unable to meet in person anymore. Your serene morning routine of prayer and meditation may now be taken over with family needs. Your work may be limited or you may have new anxieties around finances as a result of all of this crisis.
No matter your situation, remember that recovery starts with making your bed. We can’t control much of what’s happening out there, but we can start organizing our own lives. So, you can start with the small things. And in a chaotic time, little pockets of control such as making your bed can help you better live life during this unprecedented time. For each major part of your day that got disrupted, create a new modified version that you can do from home. If you can’t exercise in the gym, go for a walk and make a phone call. If you don’t have privacy to make outreach calls, try them from your car. If you’ve lost the structure of your work day, create your own schedule for the day and stick to it.
Even implementing these little changes will help get you back to some of the life that helped ground you before the Coronavirus hit.
2. Stay connected
We’re using the term “social distancing” a lot right now to protect ourselves from others and to protect others from ourselves. Yet social distancing implies distancing ourselves from others. Let’s take a cue from Canada, where they changed the term “social distancing” to “physical distancing”. Yes, we’re giving ourselves some space from others right now, but we’re not isolating ourselves from others. Addiction breeds in isolation, and recovery is fostered in connection. So STAY CONNECTED! Go to a virtual meeting. Call a friend. Set up a video chat with someone you care about. Just because you’re staying 6-10 feet away from others doesn’t mean you have to isolate yourself from community. Now more than ever, stay connected with those around you who can fill you with love, light, and serenity.
3. Don’t go to extremes
Addicts tend to go to extremes. Just because your life has changed, that doesn’t give you license to let everything go. Bring balance back to your life. Tip 1 and 2 can help you re-establish a new normal during this time. If you use a circle plan for your recovery, it’s now time to build up your outer circle. Look back at your outer circle and see what things you can do during this time. Watching TV and playing phone games is fine, but if you’re spending multiple hours in a row checking out on devices, consider something else in your outer circle. Pick up a hobby you can do from home. Do something creative. Look at other things you can do from your outer circle. Yes, your life has changed. It’s now time to go back to the basics and rebuild a new program that you can work from home. It’s not a time to take a vacation from recovery!
4. Take care of your mental, emotional, and spiritual health
We’re protecting ourselves physically from the Coronavirus. However, the world we live in right now is filled with fear, anxiety, and threat. Heightened anxiety builds up the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies. And high levels of cortisol in our bodies lead us to exhaustion, irritability, overwhelm, depression, and may even lead us to get sick. So make sure to not only care for your physical health, but care for your mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Getting back to your recovery routines will help you care for your soul. Take breaks when you need to. Practice meditation and deep breathing. Use progressive muscle relaxation to lower tension in your body. Take a break from the news for a bit. We’re inundated with all that’s not going well in the world right now, so take a moment to write down things you’re grateful for in your life right now. Engage in spiritual practices or connect with your faith community remotely. Be of service. We may be in this for a while, so don’t neglect your mind, body, and spirit.
5. Don’t give up!
When all else fails, don’t give up! Take each day as an opportunity to learn more about what works and what doesn’t work for you during this time of sheltering at home. For each thing that didn’t work, try something new. Keep what works and replace what doesn’t.
Stay healthy and safe out there. As they say in program, this too shall pass. We’re all affected by this virus, and we’re all in this together. Let’s be beacons of peace and hope to each other during this crisis.