After two successive national lockdowns in the spring and autumn of 2020, the news that the UK would be entering yet another – but this time in the midst of darkest winter – wasn’t what anyone wanted to hear. The negative effects of lockdown on mental health are widely known; and we want you to know that it’s normal if you’re feeling overwhelmed, unsettled, or that everything is outside of your control. Experts have seen significant rises in levels of anxiety, depression, stress and financial insecurity, since COVID-19 first began.
Recent studies have shown that lockdown rules to counteract growth of COVID-19 have represented a risk factor for developing depressive and anxious symptoms. In one survey, more than two-thirds of adults in the UK reported feeling very anxious about the effect the virus is having on their life, 63% felt more stressed and worried about the future, and 57% had felt more depressed. Sadly, whilst the benefits of lockdown in reducing transmission are clear, there is also a large price to pay to our welfare and mental health.
As we navigate yet another period of uncertainty, restricted freedoms and limited social contact, experts are concerned about the heavy emotional toll of the pandemic. These challenges can be particularly difficult for recovering addicts and alcoholics, and for some, can trigger a relapse. Triggers include a lack of structure or routine, boredom, financial insecurity, or a loss of sense of purpose. If we aren’t careful, and if we don’t stick to a rigorous recovery plan, we can make things harder for ourselves.
Here at the Providence Projects, we want you to know that you’re not alone. We have seen thousands of individuals recover from addiction, and go on to lead happy and healthy lives. We also know what lasting, successful recovery involves, the work and commitment it requires. The first step is to ask for help. If you’re worried, anxious, or struggling to cope, our private rehab clinic is open, providing safe addiction treatment to help you find the way.
A certain degree of worry, low mood, or uncertainty is completely understandable given the current pandemic we are living through. However, as addicts and alcoholics, we can often take these worries too far and end up drinking or using as a way to cope, to numb difficult emotions, and to provide a sense of release and comfort. The problem is, the more we drink or use, the more difficult things become. Drugs and alcohol are never going to fix our problems. Recovery is about forming healthy habits and strategies to manage our emotions, and the longer we stay clean the greater our chances of developing pathways in the brain which reinforce our new, healthy coping tools for life.
Recovery is about self-compassion. It’s about learning to be kind to ourselves, even when things are difficult. Often, as addicts and alcoholics, we have a tendency towards self-destruction, and punishing ourselves. When we are clean and sober, it’s so important to have self-compassion, patience, and acceptance of ourselves. The Providence Projects have a fantastic team of therapists and addiction experts who are trained in supporting you throughout the journey. If you’d like more information about the services we provide, give us a call today on 0800 955 0945.
Top 10 Coping Strategies
These coping strategies and activities may prove beneficial to your mental health and overall wellbeing, and reduce stress levels during these challenging times.
1 – Get more restful sleep
Everyone loves to get a good night’s sleep, but it isn’t always easy to achieve. Poor sleep or sleep that isn’t restful, can leave you feeling irritable and exhausted in the short-term, and over the long-term is linked to poor mental health, and chronic health conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Finding ways to improve sleep quality and quantity can be a useful factor in relieving symptoms of poor mental and physical health. As recovering addicts and alcoholics, maintaining good sleep hygiene is a crucial factor in recovery.
2 – Eat healthily
There is more and more research to show the relationship between a healthy diet and a healthy mind. The better, more nutritious the food we eat, the happier we will be. Eating 3 balanced meals a day can reduce cravings for alcohol and drugs in recovery, help manage blood sugar levels, and reduce irritability, low mood and anxiety.
3 – Maintain contact with friends and family
We spend so much time looking at a screen, whether it’s our phones, laptops or televisions. Why not disconnect from it all for a day, have a social media break, and spend some quality time with family and friends instead.
4 – Spend time in nature
The great outdoors is wonderful antidote when you’re feeling blue or worried. Spending time in green space and natural environments reduces stress levels, improves mood and overall wellbeing. It could be a stroll through the local park, or a hike in the woods, but we guarantee it will increase your energy levels and happiness!
5 – Be mindful
In these trying times, incorporating mindful practices into your daily routines can help calm anxiety and build healthy coping skills. Being mindful really isn’t complicated. It’s about taking time to focus on the present, being intentional and thoughtful about your life and trying to centre your thoughts and be in the moment.
6 – Avoid negative thinking
As humans, our brains have evolved with a negative bias, and we are hardwired for negativity. This may have helped us survive many centuries ago, but it isn’t always so useful nowadays. Try to notice the patterns of thought you have each day. By recognizing automatic negative thinking, and trying to reframe the way you talk to yourself and those around you, you can foster happier thoughts and more positive thinking over time.
7 – Take up a hobby
Why not experiment with a new recipe, try some creative writing, paint, or take up a new activity you haven’t tried before? Creative expression often allows us space to be ourselves, and to find out what we truly enjoy in life. The part of the brain activated by taking up a new hobby has been linked to increased well-being.
8 – Exercise
Exercise is proven to boost mood, and also builds physical fitness which is known as a positive factor in promoting good mental health. Regular physical activity can reduce stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms. It also reduces the risk of developing chronic health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancers. One study showed that 59% of the UK adult population found going for a short walk each day helped them to cope better with the stress of the pandemic.
9 – Yoga
Yoga is a proven, effective and positive means of relaxation and connection between mind and body. At a time when our brains are hyper-active and stressed, doing a yoga class in the evenings can be a healthy way to relax and unwind, without resorting to substances.
10 – Practice gratitude
Set yourself small goals to begin cultivating gratitude in your daily life. Aim to write down 3 things in your life each day, that you are grateful for. Over just a short period of time, this will encourage your brain to find the good in life, rather than tending towards negative thinking. You can do the same for your achievements, no matter how small, and this practice can boost self-esteem.
Addiction Treatment during COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted on us all in different ways, but those suffering from addiction are particularly vulnerable at this time. Addicts tend towards unhealthy, self-destructive coping mechanisms such as substance abuse, when they are struggling to cope. Whilst we understand many have concerns about entering a rehab clinic at the moment, or being exposed to the virus, the consequences of not seeking help for your problem may be much worse.
By choosing to stay at home, rather than find support for your recovery, your addiction may spiral out of control. Your drug or alcohol problem isn’t going to go away, or be put on hold, during the pandemic. In fact, the current climate may only exacerbate your addiction problem. So it’s more important than ever to seek help.
Call us today on 0800 955 0945, and one of our expert addiction therapists will be there to talk you through the admissions process and what treatments are available, and generally help make things as hassle-free as possible. We are committed to providing safe, effective, and successful addiction treatment for all of our clients. The Providence Projects remains open throughout the pandemic, providing detox and rehab services. All clients will need to present proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours result prior to admission.