Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, we are spending more time at home than ever before and I want to share with you my top tips for staying sober while stuck at home.
A lot of us view exercise, recovery meetings and visiting places with friends and family as an important part of our mental health and sobriety. So being asked to stay at home and avoid public places and gatherings is a big disruption to our everyday lives and therefore a disruption to our sobriety and overall wellbeing.
Even though this is a challenging time for many of us, it does not mean it’s the wrong time to get sober or stay sober.
My top tips for staying sober while stuck at home are going to help you. No matter the reason for being stuck at home, it is possible to quit drinking and stay sober.
Many people attend recovery meetings. They are a massive help to those wanting to quit drinking and for those maintaining their sobriety. Recovery meetings give you accountability, peer to peer support and they provide an unlimited wealth of experience for you to draw upon.
Even when you are unable to attend a recovery meeting in person, it does not mean you have to go without. There are many replacement online recovery tools for you to choose from.
- In the Rooms – AA’s free recovery tool which holds over 130 online weekly meetings and a 12-step program to recovery.
- Smart Recovery – Smart Recovery focuses on a science based therapeutic program. They have local and international meetings and online training programs.
- Reddit – You might not think of this at first but there is a sub section for everything on reddit including one for sobriety and recovery. Check out Reddit’s subreddit ‘Stop Drinking’. It is full of people sharing stories, tips and achievements.
- Therapist or Doctor – Whilst you may not be able to get to see a therapist face to face, most doctors and therapists will hold telephone or video sessions. In the UK you can check out NHS.GOV.UK to see what talking therapy services are available in your area.
Exercise doesn’t have to be expensive gym membership or a gruelling exercise class. It can be something as simple as a walk in the park.
There are plenty of options for you if you cannot leave the house, weather that’s because your usual classes are cancelled, there a pandemic or you’re simply watching the pennies.
- Follow a free yoga class on YouTube from the safety of your living room.
- Dust off your old running trainers and try the free Couch-2-5K running app to get you back into shape or look out for a Park Run in your area.
- Find an outdoor gym at a local park.
- For the more adventurous follow a HIIT class on YouTube.
- Take advantage of your local beauty spots and go for a walk or hike.
- Play with your kids or grandkids for an hour.
One thing we always forget about or which is a low priority for us is self-care. We thought drinking alcohol was self-care; it was our well-deserved treat at the end of a day. Until we came to realise alcohol is actually the opposite of self-care.
Before you start saying, “I don’t have time” or “I cannot justify taking time out just for me.” I need to remind you of all the times you have sat wasted in front of the TV drunk or laid up in bed with an awful hangover.
Like many people stuck at home, you may not be used to working and being around loved ones 24/7. You may be getting under each other’s feet a bit and running low on patience; self care can help you cope with this.
Self care is not selfish and you should not feel uncomfortable about taking a little me time. Giving yourself some time to take care of your own needs ultimately means you will have more energy and time to give to loved ones.
Think about it, you will not be taking anything away from loved ones by taking some time out; you will be giving them a better refreshed version of you.
Self care doesn’t have to be a 3 day spa away, it can be as simple as having an early night or telling the family to fend for themselves for an hour a week while you do something just for you.
Why not Try
Remember, it has to be something just for you to indulge in. Something that makes you happy and recharged. Don’t expect other people to know what you need or when you need it. That’s your responsibility.
Once you have figured out what you want or need. Ask for it. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. As my nanna used to say ‘shy bairns get nowt’.
If you want to be the best version of you and you want to be there for your loved ones, you have to start by looking after your own needs first.
Social Media/ News
Many of us are perhaps a little addicted to our phones and the constant media available to us. Being stuck at home, without the usual distractions, could be making this worse.
It is important to stay informed and to keep in contact with loved ones. Social interaction has a beneficial impact on our mental health and happiness. However, constant scrolling, checking texts, emails, news and other apps can be detrimental to our personal relationships and mental health, which will not help our recovery.
Social media platforms specifically, are designed to capture your attention and keep you online; it’s how they make their money. However, round the clock news feeds, alerts and notifications, if not managed properly, can make us a slave to our phone and increase anxiety, depression and low self-esteem, which may be the catalyst to a relapse.
So, my advice is to check the news, catch up on social media then unplug. You need to work on creating boundaries between you and the constant stream of media that is out there.
- Try unfollowing or muting accounts that rile you or which take up too much of your time.
- Try reducing your news intake to just once or twice per day. Especially if headlines such as Coronavirus is exacerbating your anxiety.
- Try deleting one social media app from your phone for one week and see what happens.
- Try limiting your social media use before you go to sleep and when you first wake up in the morning.
One thing I have learned during my sober journey is not to get overwhelmed, as it leads to anxiety and feelings of wanting to drink. The same can be said for boredom. Being bored can lead to FOMO (fear of missing out). Then the anxiety starts creeping in and you start to think drinking can fill that void or ignite a little excitement back into your life. But, believe me it doesn’t.
The monotony of the same old routine, whether you’re stuck at home or not, can leave you feeling bored. So, try shaking things up a bit.
Boredom is not our friend but there is no need to be bored. Life is full of interesting things for us to try, do or learn. Drinking is not required.
I’ve talked about the negative impact over-using social media can have on our mental health and personal relationships. But, while social media doesn’t have the same benefits as face-to-face contact, used properly, it is still a good way to stay connected.
At the moment we may not be able to meet up with friends or visit family in the same way as before but there are plenty of other ways to feel connected and to support our wellbeing.
- Create a WhatsApp Group so you can chat all together rather than one:one
- Find new friends and communities online who share similar interests and ambitions
- Learn to use video calling such as Skype or Zoom to see friends and family
- Seek or offer emotional support on various recovery groups
- Create your own blog or read/comment on blogs with similar interests
We are social creatures and need companionship to thrive. The strength of our connections has a huge impact on our mental health and happiness. If you cannot meet up with people in real life, for whatever the reason, it is still important to make connections with others.
Being encouraged to stay at home and avoid public gatherings can be a disruption to your usual routine and therefore a disruption to your sobriety.
My sobriety’s strength comes from using the tools and supports I have built up over the past 4 years. Suddenly being told I cannot use some of my tools, like going to a friend’s house to talk or losing my quiet time at home because the kids are no longer at school, is hard.
However, instead of looking at the things I can no longer do, I focus on what I can do and where I can go instead. Taking some time out to access how I might do things differently actually adds supports to my sober toolbox.
I hope my article today has shown you that there is more than one way to do things.
If you need further sober support you can read my personal journey from the very first day I got sober here or check out my other articles below, which are full of more sober top tips and support.
You are not alone x