Mental Health, Sobriety & Self-Isolation…

I recall that on Tuesday 10th March my art class was cancelled due to the ‘corona virus’ that was sweeping across Europe. The government was criticised for not acting fast enough or issuing clear guidelines in terms of what we were to do as a people. It would appear that everything happens on a Tuesday as on the 17th March the doctor called me and advised me to stay at home due to certain ailments and my poor physical health. It has been eight weeks now and we are still self isolating and practising social distancing.

This experience has been an unprecedented and uncertain one, one that has seen me all alone at home by myself. I’m not asking for a pity party and realise I am increasingly fortunate to have a home… and to even be writing this blog post! I’m just stating the facts as they are for me at this point in time. This journey has been made all the more ‘interesting’ shall we say as I have also been trying to cope with my mental ill health and sobriety. Speaking plainly it hasn’t all been plain sailing although I’m pleased to say that I have now been abstinent from drugs and alcohol for fourteen months and twenty five days .

Initially the days were long and at times I felt like I was going stir-crazy! Although, I am pleased to say that I have now employed strategies and techniques to get me through the day. I know that this is a challenge for us all but if someone could take just one thing from this piece then it will have been a worthwhile endeavour. I also think that it is important to document these times and what we’re going through. I know that once we come out the other end of this then we will look back and think wow did that really happen?!

A creature of habit, I thrive on structure and routine and so one thing that has been vitally important for me has been my morning ritual. It usually starts at  six am with my medication and a flask of tepid water. This serves to not only hydrate me after a nights rest but also to keep me regular. I then adjust myself and sit in preparation for my morning meditation. I absolutely love former monk Jay Shetty and so I usually follow one of his guided meditation sessions. I find this brings me a sense of calm, clarity and focus ready for the day ahead. It also serves to lesson my anxiety and worry as without my routine and ritual this can often get out of hand. It’s bad enough as it is, let alone with this pandemic that we are enduring!

I have to say I thoroughly enjoy this time of the day as I then make myself a cup of coffee and look out of my window and just enjoy the beautiful view that I have. After my caffeine shot I then pull out my diary and journal things that I am grateful for. Gratitude is so important and it is at this point that I like to think of and note down five things that I am grateful for. This morning I was entertained by two song birds, tweeting just outside of my window. Small pleasures, the simple things in life and so I wrote down nature, the pleasant weather, my health and well being, the loving family that I have and the NHS!

I also remind myself to stay positive and reinforce my ‘PMA’ with some literature. At the moment I am reading ‘A Monks Guide To Happiness’ by Gelong Thubten. Alternatively, I will sit with my cup of tea and listen to ‘Audible’ for a little while. Another option I allow myself is watching a talk or presentation on a health and wellbeing topic. This also includes presentations on spirituality or subjects of that variety. Personally I find this combination of activities prepares me for the day ahead.

Rather than letting this whole scenario play out and ‘happen to me’ I am taking control and filling my day with activities that will benefit me and enhance my lifestyle. Thinking positively, I would like to come out the other end of this feeling and looking better than I did when it all started. In terms of nutrition I am preparing healthy, wholesome and hearty meals. I find cooking quite cathartic and so really enjoy this activity. I meal prep for the day, the following day and also place a batch in the freezer. Today just for instance I have made a big onion, garlic, chicken and sweetcorn soup. Both time and cost effective it really does serve me well in addition to being tasty and an absolute treat!

Today is a rest day ( as I am a relative newbie) but I have been aiming to exercise four to five times a week. I have been following a plan that involves either cardio, toning or hit sessions. Some days I enjoy the sunshine and fresh air and take a long walk as part of my daily outdoor exercise allowance. Otherwise, I tone or do a small circuit setup on the decking area in my garden. I have to admit that although a I’m late arriving to the party, I am thoroughly enjoying exercising. The combination of fresh air and physical activity really does get the endorphins going and all those feel good chemicals rushing in the brain.

Human connection is more important than ever and so I make sure my phone is charged and that I keep in touch with friends and family. I love to WhatsApp or FaceTime my sisters, mother and grandmother. Alternatively, I’ll take part in a ‘Zoom’ or ‘HouseParty’ session with people from my local drugs and alcohol services. I find this really helpful if I happen to be craving on that particular day and so it’s nice to talk to people who know and understand where I’m coming from. As I said earlier, for me the days are sometimes long and so my mind can wonder. I realise that it’s my responsibility to reach out and seek help so as to prevent a relapse or anything of that nature. Just the other day I hit my sixteen month sobriety milestone, I have worked so hard and come too far to mess things up and go back now.

As well as a morning routine, I also enjoy my evening process of unwinding into the night and preparing for bed. Swapping old negative behaviours for more healthy habits I now enjoy my skincare routine followed by a hot shower and getting into some clean pj’s. I thoroughly enjoy ASMR and then like to hit the hay nice an early in preparation for the next day. All of these self care steps I find helps my mental health. Also, thinking back to the where I was sixteen months ago, I have come so far. I am a different girl all together and my lifestyle is just completely different. If you had asked me back then I would have laughed at you, never in a million years believing that all of this was even possible.

So there we have it, these are the methods that I have employed to help me get through this corona virus situation and self isolation. I really do hope that this helps as I understand that these are very trying times that we’re living in. Of course I would love to hear from you and so please do drop me a line. If you have any other tips or recommendations they are very much welcome! I look forward to hearing from you.

R x

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