How To Stay Sober in Times of Turmoil

in Mental health
Published Jun 5, 2020
tips to stay sober

Many people in recovery are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and frightened by the global situation right now, in the midst of a pandemic and social justice movement. Like any other difficult situation, feeling intense emotions can make recovery — and more importantly staying sober — more challenging.

Recovery is a process of rewiring the brain to reach for healthier coping strategies, instead of drinking and taking drugs. While it takes time, big events can knock us off course and before we know it we can almost automatically reach back to drugs and alcohol.

That’s why at times of stress its critically important to plan ahead and have a toolbox of coping strategies to hand. Here are our top twelve tips to destress and find calm in the midst of chaos and feeling unsettled.

Top tips to stay sober

  1. Talk to a friend or loved one about how you are feeling. You will find that empathy, connection, and social time are a great way to heal and validate your feelings.
  2. Move your body. Go for a walk or workout in anyway that gets your heart rate elevated. This will produce feel good hormones and alleviate stress.
  3. Take an online recovery meeting. There are a range of online meetings to suit everyone. Check out:
    • RecoveryLink provides digital recovery support, including meetings, yoga, meditation, and movement. Link here.
    • Tommy Rosen’s Recovery 2.0 is providing online meetings led by recovery coaches. Link here.
    • In The Rooms hosts online meetings for all recovery groups including AA, NA, SMART Recovery, Recovery Dharma, Gamblers in Recovery, SLAA, and many more. Link here.
    • Women for Sobriety is offering digital meetings. Link here.
    • For queer, trans, and questioning sober people, Tracy Murphy is holding online Zoom meetings. These are not recovery meetings, but rather a social support space. Link here.
    • Served Up Sober offer meetings for women of color. Link here.
    • Reimagining Recovery is offering free peer-led mutual-aid meetings every evening. Link here.
    • The Phoenix is offering online CrossFit classes. Link here.
  4. Take regular social media breaks. While it may be important for you to keep up-to-date, speak up, find support from friends on social media, and keep an eye on the recovery community, there is also a lot of triggering content circulating right now. Think about taking regular breaks from social media and even consider deleting apps if you find that they cause you to feel stressed or overwhelmed.
  5. Check in on friends who might be struggling. Sometimes asking how someone else is doing can help take your mind off your overwhelming feelings and instead provide support to a loved one who may need it, especially those in recovery.
  6. Limit news consumption. Just like social media, news is triggering and stressful to watch. Try and limit your consumption of it to once per day, or less.
  7. Speak to a therapist. If a therapist is accessible to you, consider scheduling a regular appointment to unload. Think of it as physical therapy for the brain.
  8. Hydrate and eat nutritious food. Caring for your body during stressful times is really important. While it’s tempting to reach for takeout or junk food, it will only make you feel worse. Staying adequately hydrated and eating nutritiously will make you feel more supported, energized and better able to cope.
  9. Implement boundaries where necessary. Certain family members or friends may not be the most helpful to be around right now. It is absolutely okay to limit time with them.
  10. Take a nap. Just like movement and fueling your body well, resting is equally as important. Try to ensure you get 8 hours a night and if necessary take a nap — a rest can be soothing and you’ll wake up calmer.
  11. Meditate. One of the best ways to de-stress is meditation. Try just five minutes and you’ll be surprised how much more grounded you feel.
  12. Spend time with a pet. Pet’s are known to release feel good chemicals and give you joy. Plus, taking them for a walk makes both you and them happy!