As we at Amatus believe strongly, everyone is unique. Each person is going to have a different reaction to the current pandemic. As such, the things that help us cope will be different. Please keep that in mind as I share some things that have been useful for me. As someone in recovery who has anxiety, I have had to focus extra hard on using the tools I’ve learned. Below are a few things I’ve been doing during this crisis.
Moving my body
I go for runs outside (keeping six feet between myself and other people, of course), do online yoga videos, dance in my house, whatever. I just make sure to move. Numerous studies have shown movement is effective in easing anxiety symptoms. Running outside also helps me get much-needed fresh air. Dancing also involves music, which can be meditative. And yoga combines physical activity with concentration, keeping me in the present. Yoga with Adriene is a great resource. There are tons of videos available for free on that channel—some very challenging, some much gentler, and some that also include aerobic exercise. There are also some meditations, which are incredibly helpful for anxiety.
Getting fully immersed in something that’s not the news
Admittedly, I don’t always do a great job of limiting what I read about COVID-19, as is often recommended. We are being bombarded with information right now, some of it accurate and some of it not. But when I am fully distracted by something else, my mental health feels the strongest. Sometimes it’s reading a really good book, sometimes it’s practicing drums, sometimes it’s playing Tetris on my phone. This, again, will be different for everyone. Psychologists call this feeling of total immersion a “flow state”, and it’s been shown to lower stress levels.
Talking to friends and family over FaceTime (or phone)
I am grateful that we have the technology to keep so well connected from our homes. Video chatting with people I love has been one of the most helpful things I’ve been doing. As I’d imagine it would play out for many people right now, most of my conversations start with the COVID-19 crisis. But they almost never stay there. People naturally end up talking about other subjects. When I get off the phone, I usually feel lighter.
Reminding myself of the good things
This is actually a broad summary of a bunch of separate things. For one, I try to think about all of the people who are helping each other through this crisis. There is so much bad news; it helps to think about the good people are doing. There are so many who are helping out their older or more vulnerable neighbors. I recently heard about a bookstore that is leaving free books outside for anyone walking by. Another thing I do is focus on the good things in the world in general. As things feel really scary right now, sometimes I need help with this. The podcast Kind World—which is brief stories about acts of kindness—is useful for this. During this crisis, it’s been incredible to me to see how creative people are in finding ways to connect. A common saying is that connection is the opposite of addiction. This reminds me that that is because connection is an important part of being human.
Journaling has helped me release some of my worries onto a page. That doesn’t mean they go away if I write them down. But journaling at least gives me another outlet to get out some of the worries swirling around in my head.
All of that said, sometimes it’s not possible to cope on your own. That is okay. It is never shameful to need or ask for help. If you are struggling, TruHealing Centers is open and here for you during this unprecedented time. At our recovery centers across the country, we provide treatment for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Many of our staff are in recovery and understand what you are going through. If you need help, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.