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  • Addiction & recovery

How to Take Care of Your Mental Health During The COVID-19 Outbreak

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Nzinga Harrison

March 27, 2020

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The worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, can cause significant stress for everyone. Even as more communities work to contain the spread and protect the health of citizens, many people still feel uneasy and overwhelmed. In particular, for people dealing with mental health conditions alongside their addiction, feelings of fears, helplessness, and anxiety related to the pandemic can be especially strong and difficult to manage.

Some may feel uninterested in their daily activities. Others might become easily agitated or upset over any mention or reminder of what’s happening. Due to social distancing and quarantining, many people may encounter loneliness and isolation, which are particularly concerning for those in addiction recovery.

In the face of a crisis, it’s important to remember that everyone will react to and cope with this stressful situation in different ways. Your response will depend on your own unique circumstances, experiences, and needs. If you are struggling with your emotions at this time, here are some things you can do to support your mental health.

1. Step back from the news and social media and stay in the present

You may be spending a lot of time reading or watching the news, checking social media, and thinking about all the possible situations that may occur. While it’s important to stay up to date, hearing about the virus on a constant basis can quickly become distracting and upsetting. For some people, the negativity may even trigger a relapse.

Taking breaks from the constant news cycle and limiting your time on social media can be very beneficial for your mental health and well-being. Try to find a balance between being informed and overloaded. Choose a few credible and trusted news sources, like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and try to check the news only once a day. Mute or unfollow social media accounts that trigger anxious feelings. Pay attention to positive news developments instead of only focusing on the negative reports that make you feel fearful.

2. Concentrate your efforts on preparing, not panicking.

For many, it’s hard to face the fact that so much about the virus is beyond their control. If you have anxiety along with your addiction, you may feel preoccupied with your worries over how other people behave, how long the virus will last, and when your community will return to normal.

Instead, focus your energy and efforts on what you can actually prepare for and control, such as:

  • Staying home as much as possible, even if you don’t feel sick

  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

  • Washing your hands with soap or using hand sanitizer

  • Cleaning high-touch surfaces in your home like doorknobs, light switches, remote controls, and phones

  • Avoiding areas with large crowds or groups of 10 or more people

  • Keeping 6 feet of distance between yourself and others when not at home

  • Following all recommendations from health organizations, like the CDC, as well as the local, state, and federal governments

3. Take care of your mind and body

Staying healthy is crucial to the overall success of your recovery so don’t forget to make time in your day for you. Being kind to yourself, treating your body well, and taking part in positive, stress-reducing activities can help you feel more centered, relaxed, and focused on your recovery.

Here are some tips for practicing self-care during the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, and eat nutritious and vitamin-rich foods

  • Try to maintain your normal schedule as much as possible

  • Spend time in fresh air and nature (make sure to keep 6 feet of distance from others)

  • Stay active by following online workout videos or doing equipment-free exercises

  • Practice relaxation techniques like meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga

  • Take part in your favorite activities or discover new hobbies like reading, watching movies, playing video or board games, cooking, making art, or crafting

  • Avoid self-medicating with drugs or alcohol

4. Stay focused on your recovery, and seek help if you are struggling

While the virus seems all-consuming and overwhelming, don’t put your addiction treatment and recovery on hold. If you are currently in treatment, it’s important to stay engaged with your care team and stick to your treatment plan. Even though social distancing calls for keeping a safe distance from others, it doesn’t mean that you can’t stay emotionally close and connected to your support network. Through phone calls, emails, and video chats, reach out to your health care professionals and people making a positive impact on your recovery. During this tough time, remember that your recovery community will always be here to provide you with help and guidance.

Even if you are not currently in treatment, there is no bad time to start your recovery journey. To ensure our members continue to have access to treatment, at Eleanor Health, we are fully prepared to provide addiction treatment and care during the COVID-19 outbreak. Just click Get Help to contact us.  Through our virtual telehealth services, including medication-assisted treatment, nursing, therapy, and groups, you will be able to access treatment from the comfort and safety of your home or any location that is convenient to you.

5. Get Connected

Because we know the COVID outbreak and social distancing has been very stressful, we are offering free virtual support groups for the public. We have groups for those with who are actively using opioids, alcohol and other drugs; those in recovery; and those who are the support system and loved ones of people with addiction. We’d love to have you join us.  Click here to sign up for the group that best fits your needs. Hope to see you soon.

If you need help with your substance use disorder, we are here to help you build your confidence and momentum towards the future you want. We provide treatment services for adults with alcohol, opioid, and other substance use disorders. We are currently located in Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, and Washington.

Eleanor Health

Recovery for life.

Our mission at Eleanor Health is to help people affected by addiction live amazing lives. We deliver whole-person, comprehensive care and are passionate about transforming the quality, delivery, and accessibility of addiction & mental health treatment. Our actions are rooted in respect for each member's values, culture, and life experiences, and our commitment to their wellbeing is unwavering and without judgement.

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