Crisis of Control During COVID-19 Quarantine
Maintaining control in the crisis of COVID-19 feels nearly impossible for most, especially recovering addicts. How can recovering addicts regain control and composure, even in the small things, as we face this crisis one day at a time?
During the coronavirus quarantine, it feels like so much is beyond our control while we idly wait for this crisis to pass. Many of us have been on local or national lockdowns for nearly a month at this point, sometimes even feeling like prisoners in our own homes. As a recovering addict, I understand just how damaging a lack of control can be, especially for individuals in recovery from addiction or mental health conditions. For those of us who already feel like our lives are completely unmanageable, it doesn't take much to send us into a full-blown crisis. While enduring this difficult time of quarantine, I want to share some helpful advice on surviving this massive lack of control and how we can push through, even during an international crisis.
Pros and Cons of Living in Quarantine
No matter where you live in the world, it's likely that many of us have endured an enforced quarantine (or lockdown) at some point in the past few months. For many extroverts, this has likely felt like the end of the world not being allowed to gather with friends or family and fulfill your social butterfly needs. For some introverts though, spending your weekends in quaint solitude might not feel like the worst way to utilize your free time.
For me, it's been an interesting combination of the two reactions above. I am naturally an introvert so spending my free time alone, with my cat, reading a book, or binge-watching a new series almost always sounds like a pleasant weekend. On the flip side though, as a recovering addict, I recognize the desperate need I have to see people and fulfill the innate desire I have for human connection.
Even though I'm not a huge participant in traditional recovery groups, simply having coffee with a friend or catching up with my grandma over lunch can work wonders for my brain to work healthily in my recovery. I also struggle with depression and anxiety so I've learned that willfully self-isolating for an extended period of time can negatively impact my mood, my thoughts, and my perceptions.
If you ask me though, one of the most unfortunate aspects of the COVID-19 quarantine is the fact that it is completely out of our control. Many people have lost jobs and careers, financial or emotional security, and at the very worst, some have lost their family and friends to the virus.
The Crisis of Control
As I acknowledged above, many recovering addicts struggle most when our lives feel out of control. Addiction, typically, doesn't happen overnight. Often, there are various unfortunate circumstances that lead to the development of addictive behaviors; and, many of those circumstances can be rooted in a lack of, or inability to, control the outcome of our lives.
For me personally, a lack of control can be a huge trigger in my addiction recovery, because it reminds me of how much of my life was out of my control in active addiction. My traumatizing family experiences, chaotic mental health episodes, toxic romantic relationships, and financial instability all led to my most damaging addictive habits and behaviors.
So as you can see, this horrendous global crisis can be a huge trigger for anyone with a difficult past, including a past addiction. However, even when things feel out of control, I want to remind you that we can always find something to cling to in unpredictable times.
Finding Control in the Crisis of the COVID-19 Quarantine
Mindfully focusing on the few things you can control during this difficult time can be oddly therapeutic. For example, you can control your physical activity, your food intake, and who you reach out to via FaceTime or Skype. Even if you only eat one healthy meal per day or do a low impact yoga flow from Youtube, these are all incredible examples of how you can control even a small part of your day in quarantine.
To simplify even more, you can also focus on controlling your sleep schedule and if you make your bed in the morning. These tasks might sound menial, but taking the time to make your bed or even wake up one hour earlier than normal will be a reminder that not everything in your life is out of your control.
In my opinion, the most important aspect of control is deciding who you speak to and when you speak to them. Setting up "phone dates" with your closest friends and family throughout your week will keep your life somewhat scheduled and remind you that you're not alone in your isolation. Seeking connection is so crucial for a healthy recovery, even if it's virtual. Never underestimate the power of a good friend on a bad day.
Finding small, simple means of control during the COVID-19 crisis can feel like a challenge, but I assure you, it's not impossible. I want to encourage you to find just one small way every single day you can change the trajectory of your life in quarantine. Even if it's drinking an extra glass of water or eating a piece of fruit, regaining control of your life is possible if you take it one day at a time.
Richardson, A. (2020, April 16). Crisis of Control During COVID-19 Quarantine, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, May 27 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/debunkingaddiction/2020/4/crisis-of-control-during-covid-19-quarantine