No-one would choose the conditions of a pandemic lockdown to help with getting sober, but in some ways the extraordinary position we find ourselves in might actually be helpful if you're trying to kick the drink.
Not the extreme emotion bit. That grief, fear, anxiety that we're all feeling.. it's full on and can be quite overwhelming at times. Understandably so, life as we know it has changed forever, and we have no way of knowing when it will start to return to a semblance of normal.
At least we can find some comfort in knowing that all humans on the planet are feeling a similar way. Covid-19 is a shared experience like no other, and it can be hugely helpful to realise we're not suffering alone with our feelings. Shared grief is better than solo grief.
No - it's the living conditions we find ourselves in that could actually be regarded as helpful for getting sober. Think about it. What do we need to do when we first quit drinking?
* Hunker down
* Limit social gatherings
* Soak up recovery related material
* Focus on physical health (diet, exercise, sleep)
* Reach out and connect with others who know what we're going through
And what is this lockdown giving us?
Well for starters, we're all hunkering down - on Government orders! "Stay home" our Prime Minister has repeated over and over and over in her lockdown press conferences, and we're listening (thank goodness, because this is what will save lives). We're all staying home, and days on end spent indoors pottering around the house and garden (with short local jaunts away from the property) are the ideal gentle conditions for someone needing to focus on themselves.
In-person social gatherings have been completely halted. Only being allowed to have social interactions with people within our 'bubbles' means we're largely shielded from any of the normal social drinking pressures we might get at parties and BBQs etc. ("Why aren't you drinking?" "Just have one!") Of course you might still want to attend virtual work drinks or group catch-ups online - a great way to feel connected to others - but the good news with that is it's impossible for others to tell what liquid is in your glass through a computer screen. So fill your tumbler with fizzy water, ice and lemon, or your wine glass with lime juice. No-one would have any idea that you're avoiding booze! And you still get to have lovely chats with friends and colleagues.
Time is no longer a precious commodity. We have oodles of it! So why not fill all those available hours by listening to recovery podcasts, reading e-book or listening to audio versions of sobriety memoirs or brain re-training manuals (e.g. Annie Grace, Allen Carr, Jason Vale). Watch YouTube videos , Ted talks, vlogs etc from sobriety and recovery people. There is SO MUCH free content available online which is inspiring and informative. Seek it out (many suggestions on our Reading Material Sober toolbox page here) and get absorbing!
Hours pottering around the home also means we've got space to focus on our physical health. We can take our time preparing healthy balanced meals, and enjoy them slowly at a nicely laid table (get the placemats and candles out!). We've got the time to do that yoga session online (some yoga videos made especially for Living Sober members here), televised gym class or YouTube workout. And now's the time you can finally slow your bedtime routine right down to try and get a good long sleep. Charge your phone in the kitchen! Have a lovely long hot bath before bed. All those things that sleep experts say leads to a lovely restful night.
And finally, take the time and make the effort to seek out connections with others who have a similar goal regarding alcohol. You can obviously do that through our site here at Living Sober (make sure you register to become a member - it's free and you can be anonymous! - and get inside our Members Feed where all the real-time, direct interactions go on), but also through Facebook groups, online meetings, one-on-one chats with a sober buddy or DMs with sobriety social media accounts. However you do it, connect, connect, connect with others who know what you are doing in trying to quit booze - either because they're also doing it right now, or have gone through the process before and know exactly the effort you are making.
We've always been stronger as sober individuals when we come together as a group and share our truths, and at no time is that more important than now when Covid-19 is impacting us all.
There are not many bright sides to look upon with this pandemic, but maybe we can relish the opportunity it offers us to focus on the things we need to if we're trying to reshape our relationship with alcohol. You never know, you might come out of this crisis stronger than you've ever been before. And wouldn't that be a fabulous thing.
Mrs D xxx