5 Tips to Keep Addiction at Bay During the COVID Crisis
When you're on lockdown and stressed out, do these things.
Posted April 27, 2020
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." —Nelson Mandela
For those struggling with addiction, mental health issues, or disordered eating, being forced to stay at home and deal with your demons head-on can feel like one tall order. Like many in lockdown, you have probably found yourself with a lot more time to think, which can trigger negative thoughts to arise.
Instead of escaping from your thoughts or past traumas with alcohol, binge eating, self-harm, or other self-destructive patterns—it can be useful to try to see this time as your get-out-of-hell-free card. The habits you spend time cultivating today will shape your future. If you spend your time in quarantine cultivating healthy habits, by the time it's time to break free from the house, you'll have also broken free from your bad habits.
You'll Never Have More Time to Work on This Than Now.
For those who are currently stuck at home and are forced to deal with their demons alone, here are some tips to help you keep your physical, emotional, and mental health in tip-top shape. By doing some or all of these, you'll be less likely to get sick and be better prepared to handle the stresses of life.
Nourish Your Insides
By now, most of us are aware of the impact that food has on our mental and physical health. It was Hippocrates that said, "Leave your drugs in the chemist's pot if you can heal the patient with food," 2,500 years ago already. This is not new news, people! Yet it's still something we tend to forget.
Keeping your body running like a well-oiled machine not only feels good, but it also gives your immune system a boost, which makes it easier for your body to fight off infections, like the flu or COVID-19. It also ensures that your body is better able to self-regulate and filter out the stress hormones and chemicals that are likely to be creating a negative impact.
Below are a few recommendations of nutrients to make sure to include:
Calcium: This is important for strong bones. Dairy such as milk contains plenty of calcium (but don't have too much, because of the fat content). Eating leafy greens, like chard, spinach, and kale, works wonders—why not make a kale and spinach omelet?
Iron: Our bodies need this as fuel to send oxygen around our bodies. Meats such as chicken and beans, tofu, and lentils are all high in iron. A tofu and bean curry should definitely be on your menu.
Magnesium: This element is great for giving energy and is important for nervous and muscular health. Ensure you're eating healthy brown bread and cereals that are high in fiber, as well as a range of fruits, vegetables, and nuts, to get your much-needed daily dose.
Potassium: This is very important for heart and muscular health. Bananas are very high in potassium, as are sweet and white baked potatoes, peas, beans, spinach, fish and seafood, dried fruits, and greens.
Zinc: An essential mineral for healing, zinc helps to boost the immune system and is vital in helping your detox process. Red meat such as beef, nuts, and beans contain plenty of this very important mineral for bodily repair.
And if you're undergoing an "alcohol detox," here are some superfoods that will help.
Sunflower seeds: These can help raise your dopamine levels, which can counteract any lows of this hormone that you may have experienced as a result of excessive drinking.
Spinach and parsley: These green leafy foods contain an amino acid called L-glutamine, and are best eaten raw to get the full benefit. L-glutamine is known for decreasing cravings for sugar and is therefore very useful when it comes to beating a desire for alcohol.
Whole-grain foods: These are rich in fiber, which takes longer to digest and can, therefore, reduce hunger cravings and a need for alcohol.
If your region allows it, go for a walk around the neighborhood or a large park. If you're 100 percent shut-in or are in the "high-risk" category, here are some sweat-worthy recommendations you can do indoors.
- Yoga (LiveKick with Sophie or Yoga with Adriene or TMac Fitness)
- Sweat (7 days of sweat challenge)
- Dance (305 Fitness)
There are many options for indoor workouts—some free (YouTube, anyone?), some for a price. What matters is that you move!
It sounds silly, but a great and simple way to relax is to just breathe deeply. Breathing provides more oxygen to your brain and increases your parasympathetic nervous system activity, which relaxes you and reduces stress (link to our stress article and the podcast episode)
Here are a few sources to get you started with breathwork:
Just because we have to be physically separated does not mean we must be socially isolated. We are social animals, and being connected emotionally, even from afar, can have a massive impact on our general well-being.
Set up video chats with family and friends using Skype, Whatsapp, FaceTime, Zoom, or Facebook Messenger. You can also download the House Party app and play Pictionary with a group of friends. Seeing other people while talking to them will help you connect more deeply and reduce the sense of isolation.
Focusing on service to others can help you feel better about yourself. It's an age-old truth and works, especially when you yourself are incredibly worried. How can you help right now?
- Start a necessary provision bank in your neighborhood. Designate an area in the neighborhood where people can either donate or pick up canned food, toilet paper, or hand sanitizer discreetly. Many towns are converting their Little Free Libraries to food banks.
- Donate money to your favorite charity.
- Share your skills! Many people are providing free help for others online through videos or live chats. Share your secret banana bread recipe or perform a song and dance to lift people's spirits.
- You can spend this time focusing on the negativity and therefore searching for ways to escape or distract, or you can use it as an opportunity to go inward and take the steps needed to improve your health and life.
In the end, what will be the approach you will bring to life when this is over? (When will we be able to hug someone again?)
Even when it's hard, doing these things will help make this experience better than it would otherwise be, and that's a win in my book!