Recovery and Isolation: Tips for Staying Safe and Sane

Recovery and Isolation: Tips for Staying Safe and Sane

Staying connected is such an integral part of recovery, which makes the current situation an especially tricky one for people in recovery. To support the recovery community, who has extra pressure to stay safe and sane, here are seven tips for staying connected and protecting your mental health during this time:

1. Pick up your phone. We’re so lucky to have all the communication tools we do today, so make the most of them! Group text threads can replace support groups, FaceTime calls can replace coffee dates, and video conferencing can replace meetings. Set up regular video chats with your sponsor and closest friends, and treat them like normal hang outs. Make a cup of tea and get into your favourite chair, or set out on a walk “together”, and focus on each other for a while.

2. Get exercise, however you can. It only takes 90 minutes of walking to reach 10,000 steps, so between an hour walk and your regular movements, you can easily reach 10,000 steps per day. Many gyms and yoga studios are offering online streaming of their classes, and there are thousands of yoga and exercise classes available on YouTube.

3. Focus on your self care. To stay safe and sane, take care of yourself in every way you can. Keep your living space clean and tidy, maintain your hygiene, eat and sleep regularly and well. Put on an outfit you feel good in every morning, and allocate time to do an activity you enjoy every single day.

4. Meditate, or try. It’s not for everyone, but in times like these that can really increase our feelings of anxiety or depression, it’s worth a try. Headspace has created a free collection of meditations, sleep, and movement exercises called Weathering the Storm.

5. Enjoy the #TogetherAtHome concert series and hashtag. The Together At Home concert series features some huge musical acts (Coldplay, John Legend, and more) performing concerts for us from their living rooms, and the concerts stay online so don’t worry about missing them. The hashtag on Twitter and Instagram are where people are sharing games, activities, and other ways to interact with each other from our homes.

6. Maintain your schedule. Keep waking up at a healthy time, keeping going to bed 7-8 hours before you want to wake up, and keep eating three meals a day at the usual times. Keep attending 12-step meetings online. If you have more time on your hands now than you used to, start filling up those hours with healthy activities immediately. What’s something you’ve always wanted to do, but have never had time? Whether it’s being able to run 5k or knit a sweater, there are online tools available to help you, so start working toward goals that will help you occupy your time and keep you focused on self-improvement.

7. Watch a TV show with your friends. Use a tool like Netflix Party to watch something together, or just agree to watch an episode per day or per week, and share your reactions in your group chat. Choose something gripping or hilarious, whatever works as a distraction from current events and gives you something to bond over with your friends.

8. Listen to podcasts that boost your mood and support your recovery. There are so many excellent comedy podcasts, and a number of amazing recovery podcasts, that can be great company while you’re taking a long walk, cooking, cleaning, or just relaxing.

Have you already been using these tips for staying safe and sane? How are they working for you? Share any of your own tips in the comments below!


10 Tips and Tricks for Working From Home

10 Tips and Tricks for Working From Home

It’s the dream, isn’t it? Being able to work from your couch, not having to get dressed or commute or survive office chit chat over a broken printer? Except now that we’re all living the dream, some of us are discovering that working from home can really mess up your home life, and isn’t always as easy as it sounds. To help those of you who are new to this style of working, here are 10 tips and tricks for working from home from someone who has been doing it successfully for a few years:

1. Keep waking up at your usual time, and go through your usual morning routine, including getting dressed. Even if you’re just changing from dirty pyjamas to clean ones, change your clothes. If you’re going to be participating in any video chats, have a nice, clean shirt ready to throw on.

2. Use your commute time to do the things you never used to have time for in the mornings, like eating a proper breakfast. The better your breakfast is, the less likely you’ll be distracted by hunger and snacking later, so fill up on a bowl of oatmeal with fruit preserves and nuts, or a veggie omelet.

3. Use another few minutes of your commute time to get in some exercise. Whether it’s a walk in the neighbourhood or a YouTube yoga or an Instagram Live workout, getting your blood flowing and shaking off the night is a great way to shift your brain over to work mode.

4. Make your bed. It’s a lesson we all learn in treatment, and there’s no reason to quit now. In fact, making your bed as soon as you’re out of it is even more important now that you’ll be home all day, tempted to get back into it. A made bed will remind you that you’re not allowed back in until bedtime, so get back to your office!

5. Office? What office? Yeah, it’s time to set one up. Create a workspace wherever you can, with whatever you need to get your job done within reach. If you aren’t home alone, make sure a good pair of headphone are part of your setup, both so that you can participate in phone meetings, and to drown out distractions around you. If possible, position your workspace somewhere where you get as much natural light as possible. Make sure you are at your workspace the minute your workday starts.

6. Use timers. When your kids want to play, when your partner wants to chat, when you’re starting to think taking out the garbage would be a welcome distraction, refer to your timers. For yourself, you’ll want to implement the Pomodoro Technique with timers like Focus Keeper or Marinara Timer. These will help you stay focused on work for reasonable chunks of time, and lay out breaks when you need them. For your kids, set a timer somewhere they can see but not touch, like an oven timer, that lets them count down the hours or minutes that are left until lunchtime or the end of your workday.

7. Take a normal lunch break. When the timer goes off, walk away from your workspace for as long as your lunch break normally lasts. Eat something, play with your kids, chat with your roommates, partner, etc. Step outside, do some stretches, and prepare yourself to dive back in for the second half of your workday.

8. Stick to your normal quitting time. This works for you in two ways. 1. You have a deadline to work toward, and 2. Your work won’t leak into your personal time. Without a strict schedule, the hours can blend into each other and suddenly the day is over and it can feel like you didn’t accomplish a single thing. As you’re approaching the end of the day, start working on a list of what you’ll need to work on tomorrow — you’ll be grateful for that list in the morning! When your last timer of the day goes off, shut it all down and walk away. This is your chance to attack your personal to do lists and house chores, attend an online meeting, and spend time with family and friends. (Bonus: you can use your evening commute time for another exercise break to shake off the workday!)

9. Head to bed at your usual time, which should be 7-8 hours before your alarm clock is going to go off. The sense of accomplishment when you get into a made bed after finishing a full workday and enjoying an evening of leisure time is amazing.

10. Go easy on yourself. It can take a while to get used to working from a new space, especially when it’s the space you have always associated with being the exact opposite of work. Some days won’t be as productive as others, and that’s okay. The people you live with are also adjusting to this new reality, so be patient with each other as you settle into some new routines.

Let us know how these 10 tips and tricks for working from home helped you make the transition to remote working, and share your own tips in the comments below!

Alumni Perspective: No Recovering Addict is an Island

Alumni Perspective: No Recovering Addict is an Island

by Tim (Sullivan)

“And then my obsession to drink was lifted.” I’ve been in program for a couple of years now and have heard this said on a number of occasions by different people. I don’t question anyone who says it, but I do know that it hasn’t happened to me, at least not yet. When I was in Sullivan, I remember watching the movie My Name Is Bill W. and there’s that scene where Bill is in a hospital bed and a bright light comes over him, which I take to be his higher power. I assumed this was some sort of Hollywood special effects magic, but the scene wouldn’t have been included if it didn’t happen to him. Quite frankly, seeing it upset me because it’s an experience I have not yet had.

I recently re-watched the movie one night at home and came to that scene again and had the same reaction, but rather than turning it off, I hung in there and came to the part in the movie where Bill was on the road for work, staying in a hotel, and as he was killing some time he kept looking over to the hotel bar. (Watch the scene here.) This part I could identify with, since I spend a lot of time on the road for work and almost every hotel has some sort of bar or lounge. It’s what happened next that really struck a chord with me: Bill got a bunch of coins at the bar and started making phone calls from the hotel lobby, working his way through a list of local churches until one of them put him in touch with Dr. Bob, and the rest, as they say, is AA history.

This is where I came to believe that the AA program is about action. Bill took action when he found himself on shaky ground by finding people to call until he was able to talk to another alcoholic. This is the most important part of the program to me.

When I find myself questioning things, wondering if sobriety is worth it, and contemplating whether I can actually have that magical “just one,” it always comes back to grabbing my phone and reaching out to the people in my group, my sponsor, or anyone else I can share that moment with, in order to not take that first drink.  

Most of the open meetings that I’ve been to have had a segment where someone stands up and gives their interpretation of the slogans that are posted in the room. This is a favourite time of the meeting for me because even though many of the slogans are often the same between groups, people often put a unique spin on them. I do my best to concentrate on what is being said for each slogan, and try to apply them to my life on a regular basis. I’ve got to say that the one slogan that ties the whole program together for me doesn’t come from the AA program. I actually heard it as part of a radio commercial: “If you could do it alone, you’d have done it already.”

This program is not about just me, but is about a group of people working together to get through our shared disease. The more I think of this as a “we” program as opposed to a “me” situation, the more I achieve that moment of contentment and serenity that I longed to experience while I was drinking. Being able to go from saying “I need help!” to “Can I help?” has been the greatest transition I’ve experienced since entering the program, and it I has come from reaching out and taking action. The magic is there, but you’ve got to work for it.