As lockdown 2.0 is announced by the UK government, the nation is bracing itself for yet another month of restrictions, which feel all too familiar and similar to those experienced in March. Are you suffering with pandemic exhaustion? Fed up and tired of the endless bad news overload, more restrictions, financial worries, and limits on contact with loved ones? If you’re feeling like it’s all too much, you are certainly not alone. Lockdown 2.0 has put the UK under immense mental strain, with restrictive measures leading to soaring levels of fatigue, stress and anxiety across the nation.
For addicts, alcoholics and their loved ones, who are in the process of recovery or still in active addiction, the coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdown presents a significant challenge. The triggers for relapse that most recovering addicts face on a daily basis, include loneliness, boredom, loss of structure, stress, and anxiety. It goes without saying that all of these triggers are exacerbated by the lockdown. The measures in place can be very unsettling for people, and while some revel in isolation and down time, others will feel restless, depressed, anxious and alone. While the first lockdown may have had a certain novelty element to it, the idea of yet another month without friends, family or loved ones will be too much for some.
Whether you’re new to recovery, still drinking or using, or have multiple years clean and sober, now is the time to practice self-compassion, kindness, connection with others, and develop tools to help you cope in healthy ways.
Top Tips for coping with lockdown 2.0
We are all experiencing an immense amount of uncertainty right now, which can create anxiety and fear. Whether it’s our health, finances, social connections, emotional or mental wellbeing, many of us are feeling worried and unsure about what is to come in the future. Routine and structure can be the counterbalance to this uncertainty. Having a daily plan can give us a sense of purpose, control and achievement, when everything else feels out of our control.
Limit news intake
In the midst of a global pandemic, people understandably want to keep across the news. We agree it’s good to remain informed, however too much news intake can have a detrimental impact on your mental health and lead to overload. We aren’t designed to have a continuous, 24/7 stream of bad news, so try to find a balance and be aware of how news consumption makes you feel.
Focussing on what you’re grateful for, what is positive in your life and what is going well for you, can make all the difference to your mood and outlook. By taking some time each day to appreciate what’s good, no matter how small it may seem, you will challenge negative patterns of thinking, and cultivate a more positive state of mind. Why not take some time to appreciate nature and the great outdoors? Nature is incredibly calming, and it connects us to something greater than ourselves.
Be kind to yourself, and be kind to others. Try not to be too hard on yourself, you are doing the best you can in the circumstances. Just because we’re in lockdown, you don’t need to learn a new language, bake bread, or become a pro at home schooling. Getting through each day is achievement enough. Small acts of kindness, to both yourself and to others, can also help. They improve mood, reduce stress, and remind you of what really matters. Why not try taking a hot bath, light some candles, watch your favourite TV show or make a special dinner. Treat yourself because you deserve it.
Try to remember that this won’t last forever. One day, the pandemic will be over and we will have learnt so much and grown from it. We will realise what we truly need and what is important to us, and what never mattered much at all. Clearly things are very difficult for a lot of people right now, but try to keep hold of hope in these challenging times: it will all get better in time.
Breathwork is a useful tool to relieve anxiety, depression, stress and uncertainty. Breathwork can slow you down and anchor you in the present, when your mind naturally projects onto the future unknown or obsesses over the past. Breathwork doesn’t have to be complicated and it only takes a few minutes. Find somewhere quiet, close your eyes, place your hands on your stomach and feel your breath. Staying with your breath has endless benefits: it can open your eyes to how you are really feeling, connect you to your internal self, and slow down a busy mind.
Limit social media use
Social media platforms can provide a powerful means of connection with others. Conversing with others online can be an antidote to loneliness and depression. However, try to use it mindfully. Endless scrolling through Instagram or Facebook isn’t good for anyone’s mental health, so try to set a time limit on how long you are on theses sites for.
Those in recovery from addiction are advised to maintain contact with their peers in recovery. These individuals understand what you’re going through, and can offer valuable insight, support and perspective. Given the current restrictions on mixing with people outside our household, try to make use of digital communications channels wherever possible. Why not keep in touch friends and family over Zoom meetings, Facetime, video chats, or join an online peer support community? These support platforms provide a safe space to share how you’re feeling with others online. If you don’t feel able to use a phone or computer, why not try writing a letter or postcard to connect with your loved ones instead? Digital connection might not be quite the same as meeting up with people you care about, but it’s a great substitute for now.
Online recovery meetings
Support groups and 12-step meetings are a cornerstone of recovery from addiction. Unfortunately, due to lockdown restrictions, most 12-step meetings will only be running over Zoom rather than providing in-person support. However, online meetings do offer an opportunity to continue to connect in the fellowship, stay sober, and work a programme.
Online meetings are a useful way of maintaining structure in your daily life and their benefits shouldn’t be underestimated. Committing to your meeting at a certain time of the day can provide a sense of purpose, meaning, and human connection. Why not reach out to groups such as Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Gambler’s Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous to find out more? The support system you find there is a life-saver for many.
Keep it in the day
Last but not least, try to stay focussed on the day in front of you and on what you can control. So much is uncertain right now, for all of us. So it’s more important than ever to remember: it’s one day at a time.
Lockdown no. 2 has put the entire nation under an enormous amount of stress, impacting on people in all settings: families, businesses, schools and hospitals. Those suffering with addiction problems are particularly vulnerable, as they turn increasingly to their drug of choice to cope with these challenging times. Many people will be worried about receiving addiction treatment during lockdown, or fear being exposed to the virus. However, the risk of staying at home and remaining in active addiction could be much, much worse. The problem of addiction isn’t going to go away during the Covid-19 pandemic, so neither will we.
The Providence Projects remains open throughout the lockdown, committed to providing safe, effective and valuable treatment for those in need. All clients who need to access our rehab and detox services will be able to do so, with the requirement of a negative Covid test result prior to their admission date. For more information on how to access treatment, and the options available to you, please call us today on 0800 955 0945 and speak to one of our friendly addiction experts.