The year 2020 has certainly been a trying one so far with the COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide protests, sporadic riots, and rising unemployment rates all hitting home at the same time. The constant media coverage and images shared on social media can become overwhelming and may leave you feeling anxious and depressed. In the face of all the turbulence and unrest, it can be difficult to find balance and adequately care for your mental health.
In times of uncertainty like we are facing now, neglecting your mental health could be more than just unfortunate. It could leave you extremely vulnerable and much more susceptible to cravings, relapse, or even a full-blown mental health crisis.
How Do the Coronavirus, Protests, and Riots Affect My Mental Health?
Although protests, riots, and social revolutions have been a part of our history for a very long time, their impact on mental health still largely remains unknown. However, a recent study from the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry did confirm that protests (even non-violent ones) did adversely affect mental health.1
The study also found that, following a major protest, the prevalence of probable major depression increased by seven percent, regardless of personal involvement in the protests. Some common risk factors for adverse mental health effects include:
- Being female
- Lower socioeconomic status
- Exposure to violence
- Interpersonal conflicts
- Frequent social media use
- Lower resilience
- Lack of social support
Even if you have not been directly affected by the pandemic or the protests and riots, they may still harm your mental health. These ongoing issues are highly unpredictable and can produce a lot of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. Some days life may feel very out of control and carrying all that baggage around can feel heavy and is emotionally draining.
How Does My Mental State Influence My Recovery?
Scientific evidence clearly shows that certain world events can adversely affect your mental health, so let’s look at the different ways your mental state can influence your recovery. First of all, your mental health affects the way you feel, behave, and think.
A positive mental state can positively influence your recovery in several great ways, such as:2
- Helping you deal with stress
- Improving your ability to bounce back from difficult experiences or circumstances
- Increasing your ability to adapt to change
- Helping you create balance in life
- Improving your ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships
- Improving your self-esteem and confidence
On the other hand, a negative mental state can have adverse effects on your life and recovery, including:
- Weakening your motivation
- Triggering physical inflammation
- Resulting in strong cravings for drugs or alcohol
- Dwelling on emotional pain instead of moving forward with life
- Sacrificing your own needs and happiness for the approval of others
- Having poor self-image
As you can see, a person with poor mental health is more likely to feel unmotivated, suffer from cravings and the sting of lasting emotional pain, and be driven by their need for approval to enhance their poor self-confidence. This is certainly a recipe for failure and can quickly derail any efforts toward sustained sobriety. Conversely, a person with strong mental health is much more likely to be resilient and bounce back from difficult life experiences and circumstances more easily.
6 Tips to Care for Your Mental Health
If you tend to struggle with a negative mindset or poor mental health, there are several things you can do to strengthen your resilience and improve your mental health.
- Rely on your family, friends, and sponsor for support.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to face life difficult life circumstances alone. Reaching out to your support network of friends and family for help doesn’t mean you’re weak and you won’t be a burden if you ask for help. If you need to talk, call a close friend, family member, or your sponsor and arrange a time to meet and talk.
- Keep your stress levels under control.
Stress can have a serious physical and emotional toll, especially if you’re recovering from a substance use disorder. Practice effective stress management techniques to ward off cravings and relapse, such as maintaining a positive attitude, spending time doing things you enjoy, meeting with your counselor or therapist regularly, and meditating.
- Find your reason for getting out of bed each morning.
Having a sense of purpose will help you define your “why” and better cope with how your life plays out. If you allow yourself to become too self-absorbed, you’ll miss out on finding your larger purpose and meaning in life. One study published in the Journal of Social Service Research found that higher levels of existential purpose and meaning in life were significantly related to lower levels of depressive symptoms.3 Having a purpose in life can also motivate you to reframe stressful situations and deal with them more productively, further promoting a healthy recovery from stress and trauma.4 Although finding a purpose in life doesn’t happen overnight, it often comes as a result of connecting with others and becoming a part of something bigger than yourself.
- Allow yourself to feel.
Instead of trying to ignore negative emotions or cover them up with drugs or alcohol, permit yourself to feel sad, angry, scared, or anxious, and accept those feelings for what they are. The important thing is that you don’t let those emotions control you. Try not to criticize yourself for feeling bad and try to understand the reasoning behind those emotions. Sit with your feelings and remember that your emotions are a lot like waves. Sometimes they will come crashing down but eventually, the storm will subside.
- Prioritize sleep.
Coping with anything is difficult when you’re not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can severely decrease your ability to deal with stress and negative emotions, so it’s ideal to get about seven to eight hours of sleep each night, if possible. Practicing healthy sleep hygiene can help ensure that you get good rest. Examples include going to bed at the same time every night, limiting screen time before bed, and avoiding caffeinated drinks later in the day.
- Get active and watch your diet carefully.
A lack of physical activity and good nutrition can also have a negative impact on your mental health and recovery from addiction. However, if you eat a well-balanced diet and shoot for at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, you’ll likely feel better all around, deal with less mental fog, and be better able to fight off cravings and cope with stress.
Get Recovery Support and Access to Clinical Care at Eudaimonia
Having strong mental health does not mean you don’t suffer from mental health problems and hard times. You may still experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. The main difference is that when you have strong mental health, you will have the tools to cope with difficult situations that produce these psychological problems, you’ll be able to bounce back more quickly, and you’ll maintain a positive outlook on life.
If you’re struggling to stay sober, the cause is likely more than just a lack of self-control. Poor mental health and a lack of recovery support could be a main contributing factor to relapse. At Eudaimonia Recovery Homes, we provide structured addiction recovery support and access to medical and clinical care services for residents who need them. Our sober living homes are staffed 24/7 and offer safe and comfortable sober housing to help you establish a firm sober foundation.
The current pandemic and civil unrest in America has been difficult for everyone, but you don’t have to face it alone. If you need help staying sober, call (888) 857-0557 today to learn more about sober living programs at Eudaimonia Recovery Homes.