The University of Kentucky Public Relations & Strategic Communications Office provides a weekly health column available for use and reprint by news media. This week's column was put together by experts at the Kentucky Injury and Prevention Research Center (KIPRC), a partnership between the UK College of Public Health and Kentucky Department for Public Health. KIPRC created the real-time substance use disorder treatment website FindHelpNowKY.org.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 15, 2020) — The COVID-19 pandemic has created a time of uncertainty and anxiety for most Kentuckians. Being afraid of the unknown and having a heightened sense of anxiety are normal feelings.
While social distancing is the most effective form of COVID-19 prevention, it can lead to loneliness and interruptions in daily routine and can create a loss of purpose. These circumstances can make self-care very difficult, and while these feelings can be quite painful, most of us recognize they are only temporary.
However, for individuals in recovery, these circumstances might put recovery at risk because social distancing can create barriers against relied-upon sources of support. Group meetings, a hug from a loved one, or an emergency meeting with a counselor may not be possible.
Those in recovery shouldn’t panic. With the strength used to achieve and maintain recovery along with resources from the recovery community, this is another challenge that can be overcome.
If you believe your recovery is at risk, here are a few ways to reset your focus:
- Participate in online meetings. Several AA and NA groups offer virtual meetings. Find a meeting and consider dialing in. Engage online to hear success stories, find encouragement from peers, talk through negative thoughts, and pick up new suggestions for maintaining recovery.
- Call or FaceTime loved ones. Reach out to someone from your support system, especially if you feel overwhelmed or anxious. A video chat proves especially helpful by providing a sense of connection without placing anyone at risk.
- Journal. Expressing your feelings on paper is a great way to calm your emotions, anxieties, and frustrations. Instead of acting on impulses, write them down and develop a strategy to work through the situation.
- Spend time outside. Social distancing is important, but it doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors all day. Fresh air and sunlight can do wonders for your mindset. Plant a garden, fly a kite, read a book, or meditate. Even if it’s only for a few moments, deep breaths will give you a renewed sense of peace.
- Stay active or start an exercise routine. Exercise is a great way to boost your mood. Try yoga, walking, bicycling, or strength training and commit to it as often as you can. Many gyms are offering free virtual classes. Take advantage!
- Take breaks from the news. Binge-watching, reading, or listening to stories about the pandemic can cause unnecessary stress. Instead, moderate your news consumption and ensure your information is coming from reputable sources. Also, be wary of heated debates on social media. These situations are often frustrating and chances are you are unlikely to sway another’s opinion.
Remember, this is just another challenge that can be overcome. Continue to focus on your recovery and take everything day by day, hour by hour, or minute by minute. You are strong and will get through this difficult time.
If you need help finding treatment for substance use disorder, visit FindHelpNowKY.org to get started.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.