Under the current conditions of the COVID-19 public health pandemic, many people are struggling to figure out the balance between socially distanced physically and mentally and emotionally isolated. As many states, including Pennsylvania and Maryland, close all non-essential businesses and request continued self-quarantined protocols to flatten the curve of the coronavirus, we as a society are learning how to deal with a rapid and uncomfortable change in our daily lives. No longer are we able to hang out with friends, go out to eat at a restaurant, see a movie, or gather socially. The country-wide request of the CDC that asks for no more than 10 people to gather in one place, and that individually we stay six feet away from one another, is making the normal means of interaction and connection difficult. Though, how do we stay spiritually connected?
So how can we, as a society, as communities, and especially for those people living in recovery from addiction, learn how to stay socially distanced yet still spiritually connected? How can we learn to continually take care of ourselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, while staying apart from one another to take care of the greater good?
The first important thing to remember is that loneliness is not the same thing as solitude and that we as individuals and as human beings have the capacity and ability to connect with others during this time of social distancing. This is even more available to use currently due to technology. Research has demonstrated that connectedness during times of pandemics can help to offset or more adaptively manage overwhelming feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress. So, what can we do to stay isolated, but not lonely? What can we do to stay connected, but apart? What can we do to stay feeling apart of our families, our communities, and our society, but still social distancing ourselves from each other physically?
Here are some tips for remaining connected during our current public health pandemic:
Reframe social distancing to physical distancing. We are not alone socially, but rather we are only apart physically. Virtually reaching out to friends, family, faith-based communities and social organizations can strengthen your overall feelings of connection. Connecting with others will help to reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety. Also, reframe your mindset of having to be alone or apart from friends, with being helpful to your overall community and society. Reframe your thoughts that physical distancing is being done to be helpful to everyone else, to our healthcare system, and to the frontline medical professionals taking care of those that are physically ill.
There continue to be plenty of opportunities to remain connected through volunteering, especially with the many technology platforms available to us. Look into virtual volunteering opportunities, contact the American Red Cross, adopt or foster an animal from your local shelter, or check-out your local government website for opportunities. Many of your friends on social media will likely be posting other opportunities to volunteer or be helpful during this time. Giving back and helping others always makes us feel connected and not alone.
Have a virtual watch party with friends, stream a class, or host a virtual book club. Many people are getting together virtually for fitness or working out. Technology like FaceTime or the app Houseparty are great platforms for this. For many working professionals, they have moved to Zoom meetings. 12 Step meetings and other recovery-oriented groups are still available, possibly now more than ever, through technology. Virtual meditations, yoga classes, and other holistic options are plentiful. Instead of text conversations, make FaceTime calls or group FaceTime chats.
Practice Kindness, Compassion and Empathy
Remember that we are all in this together and that nobody should struggle through this crisis alone. This is all new to us, and no one has ever experienced this before. We are all in this together, so try to remember that most everyone is a scared, fearful, uncomfortable, or unnerved as you might be. So, go out of your way to be kind, compassionate, and empathetic. Say an extra thank you to the essential workers, be it the healthcare workers, first responders, trash collectors, mail delivery person, person delivering food to your house, or the grocery store employee. Try to help local businesses through purchasing a gift card to your local favorite restaurant. Try to be a calming influence on friends and family members that may be overwhelmed with anxiety. If you need to go out for essentials, see if there is someone that could use your help while you are there, like an elderly person or person with a disability. Go out of your way to check in on your friends and family. Ask how others are doing before talking about how you might be feeling. We are all in this together.
Specifically, for people suffering from addiction, substance use disorders, mental health conditions, or that are in recovery, make sure that you don’t isolate. Isolation fuels addiction. Don’t allow this pandemic to give you excuses to isolate, or to miss your meetings, or to not engage in treatment. Don’t stop reaching out, in fact, reach out more than ever. Most detoxes, rehabs, and treatment programs are still open and accepting patients, so if you need of treatment, seek it. Many rehabs and drug and alcohol treatment programs that offer Partial Hospitalization Programs, intensive outpatient program, (IOP), or outpatient services have moved those clinical programs to telehealth platforms, making them easily accessible. Community-based mutual aid or self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), other 12 Step meetings, or SMART Recovery meetings continue to meet, just virtually. Check your local resources for those groups. The time you have now during social distancing should free your time up more to stay connected to your recovery network or sober supports. Keep connected to your sponsor or sober supports through technology. Seek connection spiritually through prayer, meditation, engaging in healthy holistic habits, journaling, keeping a gratitude list or making daily check-ins with your support system, and finding other ways and outlets to express gratitude and thankfulness. If you are still suffering from addiction, many of the barriers you may have had most likely have been removed. You have the time to seek treatment, so take advantage of it by making the healthy choice to change your life and seek recovery.
We will get through this together. Just apart.
If you or somebody that you know is in need of assistance, here are a few resources that can help.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800.273.TALK (8255)
- National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline: 800.950.NAMI (6264)
- Alcoholics Anonymous World Services
- Narcotics Anonymous World Services
- SMART Recovery
Drug Detox in Pennyslvania
If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the neccary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 619-3260 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on our services, please visit our web site at www.innovodetox.com.