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Stories from Backstage

Tips to Stay Recovery Focused in a COVID World

Special contribution by Wellness Specialist and Peer Recovery Coach Gloria Uridel from Communities for Recovery

I am a person in long-term recovery, which for me means being abstinent from drugs and alcohol for a little over 32 years.  Life has thrown a lot of blessings, as well as challenges my way since starting my journey.  With this pandemic, another new challenge has come that we have all been facing since early this year.  This is certainly something unusual and different to face.

After the shock of things shutting down settled into my psyche and the denial of it broke away to a new type of existence, I had to recommit to my recovery path.  “This too shall pass” and “One Day at a Time” became daily mantras just to keep myself from spinning out into despair.  The crippling uncertainty was often so intense that I found myself searching for some sort of stability to keep grounded and avoid being overwhelmed.  The desire to use has been graciously lifted from my thought processes for some time; however the emotional upheaval from this experience was certainly a challenge to me staying positive and optimistic.  I never neglect the idea that I am as vulnerable to recurrence as I was 32 years ago if I don’t stay proactive in my recovery.

Here are some things I made a commitment to, in order to stay on a positive path – things you can do every day to help yourself feel better.

  • Stick to a regular routine.  This can help you feel more “normal.” Getting up and going to bed at the same times every day helps to establish a rhythm that keeps you on track.  This includes:
  • Daily exercise. Setting up a home gym or going for walks/bike rides. Playing with your kids or taking your dog for walks. Many gyms have now reopened. Find something you enjoy doing and commit to it.
  • Eat healthy meals on a schedule that works for you. It is important to nourish our bodies and minds with healthy foods. The amino acids in protein foods are building blocks for neurotransmitters (natural feel-good chemicals our bodies produce) and hormones. Find balance in your intake of nutrients. Avoid excess sugar, processed food and too much caffeine. Choose foods in their natural state. Try to give your body 2-3 hours of digestion time before going to sleep. Explore creating or trying new recipes!
  • Regular Routines for self-care: Taking a shower, washing your hair, brushing  and flossing your teeth, wear something that you feel good in, putting on makeup or jewelry (if those are regular things that you do.)
  • Get regular sleep.  Get up and go to bed at the same times.  Avoid any screens, such as Smart Phone, TV or computer at least 1 hour before bed.  This helps to regulate melatonin, which helps induce sleep.  Avoid caffeinated beverages later in the day, including coffee, teas (most herbal teas don’t have caffeine,) energy drinks, colas, etc.  Read labels to see if your favorite drink has caffeine.  Drink more water!
  • Do something fun or creative:  start a new hobby, such as painting, adult coloring books, reading fiction, comics, novels, etc., doing crossword or jigsaw puzzles, taking photographs, gardening, playing music – the list is endless.  Try something new or develop mastery in your current skills.
  • Connect with others: Zoom and other social media platforms have been instrumental in keeping people connected through the pandemic.
      • The Hill Country Intergroup lists online AA meetings (as well as some that are now slowly meeting in person again.)
      • NA meetings with Central Texas Area Narcotics Anonymous
      • In The Room offers various online meetings.
      • Communities for Recovery also hosts weekly meetings including a Wellness class I created called SHINE “Sustainable Health I Now Enjoy.”
        We also offer recovery coaching for anyone who would like to work with a recovery coach.  There is no charge to you for this service.  Simply call to get placed on our referral list.  One of our coaches will then contact you to get started. C4R (512)758-7686.
      • Call family and friends more often to stay connected and know you are not alone in all of this.
  • Take a media break.  It can get overwhelming listening to all the various reports and opinions out there, whether that is on social media or your TV.  Limit the information that you are taking in by taking a media fast occasionally.  Get the information you need to stay informed, healthy and safe without getting caught up in the drama.
  • Daily spiritual practices:  Whether that is prayer, meditation, yoga, reading inspirational literature, being in nature or listening to sounds of nature, or deep breathing.  Sticking to those things that keep you grounded and connected to a power that is greater than the fleeting moments of uncertainly.  Use these tools to stay present in the moment, banishing fear of the future and being mindful.   Try to find 5 different things about your environment each day that you hadn’t noticed before.  This practice will help develop mindfulness.
  • Express your feelings:  If you enjoy writing, journal about your feelings/experience or channel those feelings and energy into something creative, such as a song, painting or other artistic expression.  Reach out to a friend, family member, your sponsor, a spiritual mentor or help line if you need support.  Seek counseling or support group.
  • Get little things done.  Clean out your closet and donate your unwanted clothes, or start on a home project that you have put off.  Get creative with it!   Reorganize a room, plant a garden or clean out cabinets or closets, etc.  It helps you feel better to accomplish something, even something small.

I want to encourage you to stay on your recovery path, however you define that.  This situation will pass.   Your personal health and wellbeing is vital and the world needs you all to share your brilliant Light!

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