For all of us in Australia, we have experienced what it was like to be “locked down” in isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, none more so than Victorians who are still currently going through a very strict stage 4 lockdown. COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down. All of the things we’re used to doing each week — going to school and work, catching up with friends and family, going out for dinner, playing sport, going on holidays — have changed.
The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for people with substance use disorders and in recovery. The stress from social isolation and other COVID-19 related life changes can lead to or worsen substance use and misuse. Some people may find themselves drinking or using substances more to cope with anxiety, negativity, stress and our changing environment. While it’s normal to feel anxious, overwhelmed, confused, sad or even bored, it is important to take the time to care for ourselves, and focus on recovery.
Want to know some things you can do to take care of your mental health and focus on recovery during lock down? Keep reading
Look after your physical health
- It might seem like a no-brainer, but exercise is crucial for our health. As well as boosting immunity, exercise can have a calming effect, keeping our minds clear and focused, and our anxiety contained. Try to schedule in your exercise each day, depending on the time allowed out, and make it into a daily routine. Public places may be closed for now, but there is nothing like a brisk walk or jog to clear the mind! For more tips on staying physically active while following social distancing regulations click https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-a ... strictions
- Eating well is also important for our health, especially if you are using substances in lockdown. For tips on eating well at home click https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-a ... strictions
- Getting a good night’s sleep is a really important part of staying healthy. If you’re finding it hard to get to sleep, these tips might help. https://headtohealth.gov.au/meaningful- ... alth/sleep
Just because we’re thinking something, doesn’t always mean it’s true. When you notice yourself worrying a lot, you can challenge your negative thoughts by asking yourself what a friend would say in the same situation, or ask yourself what evidence do you have that you ‘won’t cope or can’t cope’? Whenever you recognise a negative thought, try to balance it with a realistic thought.
Learn something new
Have you wanted to get into arts and crafts or fixing up an old car or cooking? Now’s a great time to make a start. Finding a new hobby will also help in your recovery journey. You can also watch or read something uplifting. YouTube has great free online tutorials for pretty much everything.
Develop new routines
We’re used to having routines to guide our days, so when so much seems out of our control, establishing some structure in our days will help to provide stability and a ‘new normal’. If you are stuck in the pattern of reaching for the bottle of wine when 4 o’clock hits, why not create a new routine and go for a walk/ sit outside in the sunshine/ play with your kids or pets when 4 o’clock hits. Get into a new routine and you will soon eliminate the old patterns
It can make a huge difference when we share our worries with others, and connect with other people who are supportive. Try to stay connected to supportive people in your life so you feel less isolated and lonely.
It’s ok to ask for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, seek professional support. If you aren’t sure where to start, there are lots of great online and phone chat support services available. Head to Health is a good place to begin https://headtohealth.gov.au/, and Beyond Blue has launched a dedicated coronavirus online and phone support service.
If you need some support around your substance use you can;
- Chat to a counsellor at Counselling Online, they can link you in with services that you may find helpful
- Check out some helpful online webinars:
- Contact the National Alcohol and Drug Hotline for free and confidential advice 1800 250 015
What sort of impact has isolation had on your substance use?
Is there anything that has helped you during isolation? Feel free to share some ideas