If you are like many Americans when news of the COVID 19 outbreak in China first hit, you watched with some level of concern but thinking, ‘that will never happen here.’ But as the weeks passed and the deadly virus spread these low-level concerns soon turned to fears. And once March came around, most of us realized what was happening was very different than anything we have ever experienced before.
As President Trump declared a national emergency in early March, universities closed their doors, businesses sent workers home—often laid off—and our public and private schools halted afterschool activities and then school altogether, the world we once knew (and often took for granted) suddenly transformed into an unknown landscape.
The New Normal and How to Adapt
For everyone, this new daily life has taken on different meanings. Many are working from home, taking care of their children, and even ‘homeschooling’ multiple children. No easy feat. For others, they have lost their jobs entirely and are struggling to get by on unemployment and gripped with fear trying to understand what the future holds for them.
If you are in recovery from alcohol or substance use issues, you face challenges that are a bit different than others. However, while there may be additional curveballs for anyone in recovery, the skills learned in recovery have prepared you for this time in history. If you are a parent, you may be under tremendous stress no matter what the age of your child as you juggle work, financial issues, schooling, and the emotional needs your child or children have during this time of social distancing.
COVID 19 parenting is definitely a new road for everyone. And depending on the age of your children, you are facing unique needs and demands. As states begin to change their stay at home orders with some opening completely, some partially, and a few not at all, the future still remains uncertain. With this novel virus, what will happen next remains a question for most everyone.
With that in mind, it’s important to learn how you can keep your sanity, be the best mom or dad as you deal with COVID 19 parenting, and most importantly remain in recovery.
Healthy Coping Skills for Parenting (and Living) in COVID
As mentioned, depending on the age of your child or children, your work status, and other unique issues your family is facing, the specific challenges during this time can vary. However, most of the suggestions for staying on your recovery path, using healthy coping skills, and modeling these skills for your kids are the same.
No matter where you are on your recovery journey, it’s vital to remember to make staying sober and in recovery your number one priority. For many this can seem counterintuitive as bills must get paid, kids have to do school work, and life must go on in this new normal. Remembering that without sobriety your tasks and your family’s journey during this difficult time will only be harder is important to keep in mind.
There is a simple saying which helps to make this clear;
‘What you put before your recovery/sobriety you lose.’
Many in both long and short-term recovery have learned the hard way that this is absolutely true. So as you may want to reach for alcohol or another substance during this time to help cope, remember how far you’ve come and stay the course. Long-term recovery will be worth it and life will be filled with happiness, joy, fun, and freedom. If you are struggling with this reach out for help. Futures Recovery Healthcare provides different treatment options including three inpatient programs as well as outpatient services and vital telehealth services for continuing care after treatment.
If you are in recovery take an honest look at your recovery journey. Taking the first step and getting help for an alcohol or substance use disorder is probably one of the hardest—if not the hardest—thing you’ve ever done. The skills you’ve learned, no matter if you have five days sober or five years sober, will serve you now. Lean on them.
Here are ten tips to help you stay sober, keep your sanity, and maybe even flourish during not only COVID 19 but any times of stress:
- Continue treatment plans for any co-occurring issues
Whether you have an alcohol or substance use issue, when times of stress are high, it’s normal to think about using a drink or drug to help reduce stress, feelings of anxiety, depression, and more. If you suffer from a co-occurring disorder such as depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, PTSD, or any other mental health problem you may be more led to pick up to help ease these uncomfortable feelings. It’s crucial to continue your treatment for those issues. Whether you utilize FaceTime or Zoom meetings with therapists or are able to go in person, now is not the time to let up on this.
- Stay connected to sober friends
In many states, support group meetings have not resumed and for those that have, they are often being limited in size. When you are accustomed to going to see people face to face for support, it can be challenging to connect in other ways but it’s vital that you do. Many support groups are having meetings on Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, or Zoom. There are literally thousands to choose from right now and you can join these meetings not only by computer but also with a smartphone. Now is also a great time to start using your phone. Call a friend or someone—even an acquaintance—who is also in recovery will help you both.
- Pray and meditate
Whether you are religious, spiritual, or none of the above, taking time out to quiet the mind whether through prayer or meditation will help you tremendously during this and other stressful times. For many, thoughts of worry circulate through the mind on repeat. When you utilize prayer or one of the many forms of meditation, you stop this cycle, gain clarity, and have a renewed mind, perspective, and energy. Making time for this on a daily basis is a huge coping skill to use. Also, when you are experiencing a spike in stress or feelings of being overwhelmed during the day, taking five minutes to breathe and meditate or pray can help so much.
- Take time for self-care
Meditation and prayer are forms of self-care but doing one or two additional things each day will go a long way for your physical, spiritual, and mental health. There are many ways to engage in self-care. From bubble baths and nature hikes to yoga and reading, self-care can be different for everyone. Doing something you enjoy that nurtures your soul constitutes as self-care.
- Live healthily
Doing the basics of healthy living provides invaluable stability for your entire being. Be sure to eat healthy foods, get plenty of restful sleep, and exercise. If you aren’t sure where to start a simple Google search in any of these categories will provide insights and tips.
- Live joyfully
While many are under a lot of stress right now due to different reasons, it’s important to find fun, light-heartedness, and joy in part of each day. Becoming consumed with work and stress is all too easy. Make an effort each day to have fun, laugh, and enjoy life—even if it’s just for an hour or two. Playing board games, yard games, enjoying nature through activities like hiking, fishing, bird watching, and even watching comedies until you belly laugh will not only bring you joy at the moment the good vibes will last throughout your day and your family’s day.
- Live gratefully
Life may not be how we all want it to be nor expected it to be right now. With vacations on hold and an uncertain future, it can be easy to fall into resentment right now. But if you take an honest look at your life it’s entirely possible to find many things to be grateful about today. Whether it’s your eyesight, health, family, or sobriety. Take a look around and see the good. It will undoubtedly lift your spirits and each day you’ll see more and more goodness in your life.
- Pace yourself
Pacing yourself during the day, particularly if you are working from home and teaching your kids, is helpful so you don’t get overwhelmed. Try not to tackle everything you ‘want’ to in one day but rather realize that some of those things can be pushed to a later date. Maybe your house won’t be clean and clothes won’t all be washed. Perhaps some school work will go unfinished—it’s okay. Set realistic expectations for yourself and your family realizing not everything has to be, nor will be, perfect.
- Stay focused on what matters
When all of this is said and done there’s no doubt we will have memorable moments—some good, some not so great. But the love of one another, families, sobriety, and smiles are the things that matter in the long run. When all of this has passed, it won’t matter how much work we finished, how clean the bathroom was, or even if kids finished all their school work. What will matter are the things of the heart. Keeping that in mind every day will help relieve stress.
- Enjoy the journey
Although many are struggling during this time, it is a time in the world that will go down in history. Looking back on this time it will be recalled how wearing masks out was the norm, how sanitizer was coveted, and how toilet paper was a ‘must-have’ item. Create today what you want to look back on when this is over. Do you want to see how you made it through with laughter, love, and mistakes? Then create that today by following the above tips and finding joy in the journey no matter how different and unsure it may be.
Whether you are in recovery or not, the above tips will help you not only model positive coping skills for your children and loved ones during difficult times but are also ones that will help make your life vibrant, joyful, and free. And remember, if you need extra support, feel like you may relapse, or are considering treatment for an alcohol or substance use issue Futures is here for you. Contact us confidentially online or by phone at 561-475-1804