Keeping Active During Isolation

As you would expect, the team here at Pineapple Support have been promoting ways to keep your mind healthy during Covid-19 isolation and lockdown. For example Maintaining a routine, keeping the mind active, continuing regular therapy.

Maintaining some normalcy is incredibly important in caring for your mental health. And good mental health promotes good physical health.

“The American Heart Association recommends adults engage in at least 150 minutes (two and a half hours) per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity. A combination of both would work too, preferably spread throughout the week.”

Being locked inside it is very easy not to move as much as we would ordinarily. That’s why every little bit of movement helps. Build physical activity into your daily routine and make it fun.

While you are watching TV, do some squats during the commercials. If you are cleaning the house, pop on some music and turn your cleaning into a dance routine. If you have stairs, go up and down three times every time you use them. Heel raises when you’re washing dishes. Side lunges when you are putting clothes in the machine. The NHS recommends some seated exercises.

Being active and keeping your body moving, doesn’t always mean raising your heart rate. It is just as important to stretch, relax and work on your breathing. There is a lot going on in the world right now, we all need to take some time to pause.

Pineapple Support has put together a collection of workouts and breathing exercises on our YouTube channel, but there are so many more available online for you to try.

 

 

If you feel you need emotional support or counselling to help you through these unprecedented times. Please, reach out. PineappleSupport.org

 

resources

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/#collapse98faf

Keeping The Mind Active During Isolation

In order to keep our minds healthy during isolation, it is important to keep them active. This doesn’t necessarily mean learning something new or doing math puzzles, unless that is what interests you. The important thing is to positively entertain your brain.

For those under 40 and particularly those in the adult industry, mobile phones and other electronic devices have become a major part of day to day lives. Some of us spending upward of 10 hours a day looking at a phone or computer screen. With social distancing becoming the new norm (for now), we risk becoming more isolated and more connected to our electronic devices.

Although these devices are imperative for our businesses, it is not healthy to spend long periods of time sitting in front of a screen. Especially as the blue light from devices like smartphones can be disruptive to your sleep and overall well being.

Try to vary your activities, keep your brain occupied and challenged. Get creative, try your hand at gardening or cooking new recipes. Read books or listen to podcasts.

The WHO Mental Health Considerations states that “During times of stress, pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly, keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy food. Keep things in perspective. Public health agencies and experts in all countries are working on the outbreak to ensure the availability of the best care to those affected.”

Here are some of my top choices for keeping the mind active:

1) Read a book
There is nothing better than getting immersed in a good book and ordinarily, if you’re like me, this is something I don’t usually have time for.
https://www.goodreads.com/list – book recommendations
https://www.instagram.com/booksandburgs/ – honest book reviews
https://readingagency.org.uk/ – Resources on booked and shared reading

2) Try a new recipe
Whether you’re a whiz in the kitchen or you boil toast, trying new recipes is a great way to vary your meal plan and ensure a balanced, healthy diet.
https://myfridgefood.com/ – use what you have in your fridge
https://www.allrecipes.com/recipes/83/everyday-cooking/convenience-cooking/ – Quarantine cooking recipes
https://food52.com/blog/25135-easy-coronavirus-quarantine-recipes – 13 easy quarantine recipes
https://eu.usatoday.com/story/life/food-dining/2020/04/10/coronavirus-quarantine-cooking-easy-recipes-you-can-make-few-ingredients/5131173002/ – Recipes with 5 ingredients or less

3) Work those green fingers
There are many benefits to having plants in your home and garden and now is the perfect time to get planting. As my fingers are more black than green, I’ve taken to planting a variety of cactuses.
https://www.gardenersworld.com/ – Gardening advice and inspiration
If you don’t have any outside space, they also have a guide to house plants https://www.gardenersworld.com/plants/must-have-houseplants/

4) Learn something new
https://www.marchnetwork.org/creative-isolation?lightbox=dataItem-k87hyknv – a link to 10 free university art courses
https://www.marchnetwork.org/creative-isolation?lightbox=dataItem-k7vvf8eb – Online Dance tutorials
https://www.duolingo.com/ – Free online language courses

5) Watch a tv series, movie or documentary
https://www.bbc.co.uk/arts – New culture in quarantine programming
https://www.nytimes.com/article/coronavirus-quarantine-what-to-watch.html – What to watch, read and listen to during isolation

6) Take a virtual tour
Many museums and galleries are offering virtual tours during lockdown:
https://smartify.org/ – Smartify is a web and mobile-based platform for some of the world’s best art and cultural institutions.

https://www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/series/royal-albert-home – Royal Albert Home will see artists sharing their work from their homes to yours.
https://artsandculture.google.com/ – Virtual tours of museums, art galleries and heritage sites.

7) Make travel plans for the future
We won’t be in quarantine forever and looking to the future and making fun and exciting plans are a great way to remain positive.
https://www.earthtrekkers.com/best-travel-adventures/ – 50 travel adventures to have in your life time
https://www.boredpanda.com/amazing-places-to-see-before-you-die-2/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic – 40 Breath taking places to visit before you die

8) Connect with friends and loved ones
Maintaining a connection with loved ones is vitally important during lockdown and we are extremely fortunate to be living in a time when there are so many different way to do this.
Read our blog on Maintaining a Connection With The People You Love.

9) Get active
Keeping the body active is just as important as the mind. So whether you train hard or schedule regular yoga sessions, it’s important to keep the body moving.
Pineapple Support has a selection of workout videos to choose from on our YouTube channel or you surf the web for thousands of options.

10) Play a board game
I know, it’s old skool, but board games are so much fun and can keep you occupied for hours.
https://www.vox.com/culture/2020/3/17/21182427/board-games-2-players-best-quarantine

When it comes to keeping your mind active, the possibilities are almost endless.
Get involved and let us know via Twitter @PineappleYSW what you are doing to keep your mind active during isolation.

 

 

Resources

https://www.realclearpolicy.com/articles/2020/03/30/young_people_are_lonley_too_487793.amp.html?__twitter_impression=true&utm_campaign=April%202020%20Newsletter%20(JDkhGP)&utm_medium=email&utm_source=April%20Workshop&_ke=eyJrbF9lbWFpbCI6ICJ0aGVyYXB5QGRlbmlzZS13b2xmLmNvbSIsICJrbF9jb21wYW55X2lkIjogIk41dWJEUyJ9&fbclid=IwAR0SV8WsNK-qJrqtBvYVXlJbFmX_NUj6KSGu0UoyozsU7kT0ilrPwJ0ZoBo

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/coronavirus-mental-health-self-isolate-how-to-manage-quarantine-a9404431.html

https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/how-loneliness-from-coronavirus-isolation-takes-its-own-toll?utm_campaign=April%202020%20Newsletter%20(JDkhGP)&utm_brand=tny&utm_term=TNY_Daily&utm_source=April%20Workshop&cndid=28664424&source=EDT_NYR_EDIT_NEWSLETTER_0_imagenewsletter_Daily_ZZ&mbid=&utm_medium=email&esrc=&bxid=5be9f97024c17c6adf0e91ae&utm_mailing=TNY_Daily_032320&_ke=eyJrbF9lbWFpbCI6ICJ0aGVyYXB5QGRlbmlzZS13b2xmLmNvbSIsICJrbF9jb21wYW55X2lkIjogIk41dWJEUyJ9&fbclid=IwAR1i8Z0lDRMjs-z8zHBWj3QbOzq6WIoVrDlFQbaiIkQlW92LYTZGk0IiQ8U

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/#collapsedcafe

https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf?sfvrsn=6d3578af_8

Maintaining a Routine While In Isolation

You’re stuck at home, all your usual hangouts are closed, you can’t do the day to day activities you would usually be doing. It’s all too easy to say “fuck it” and stay in bed, sloth around the house eating random combinations of whatever is in the cupboard and watching crappy TV.

Having a day or two every now and again to wallow in our own filth and enjoy the pleasures of numbing our minds and bodies, is perfectly acceptable. In fact, I recommend it. This is not however a healthy way to spend the majority of your time, particularly in isolation.

Days will drag and moods will drop (and drop and drop) until you find yourself in a downward spiral that is hard to get out of. If you’re currently struggling with this, it’s okay, you’re not alone.

Here are my tips for creating a routine while in Isolation.

Early Morning
Each morning I get up at around 7.30am, feed all my animals (question why I have so many animals), make myself a hot drink and, weather depending, sit in the garden for around half an hour. I use this time to catch up on personal social media and messages, to reflect on the day ahead and to be grateful for all that I have.

Morning
As someone who regularly works from home, I am a huge advocate of dressing for work. The does not mean a suit and full make up, it does mean taking a shower, brushing my hair and putting on something that isn’t pyjamas.

By 8.30am I try to be sat behind my desk and to start setting out what I hope to achieve that day.
Most of us are privileged to be able to do some work from home. Be it editing movies you haven’t released yet, doing admin and upkeep on your clips store or cam profile. Work on your premium site profiles or interact with fans. Use this time to do all the niggling jobs you haven’t yet found the time to do.
If you can’t work from home, get creative, look at picking up an old hobby or discovering a new one.

Each day at 10am I take an hours break from work to exercise with a friend online. We do this by picking a video on YouTube and starting it at the same time.
For me, training is one of those things I will continue to put off, unless there’s someone to hold me accountable. Training with a friend, not only makes it more fun, but creates an environment where you can both encourage each other to keep active.

Afternoon
At around 1pm I take a break from the computer to create a healthy lunch and spend an hour trying not to think about work. Then back to the grindstone until between 5 and 6pm.
I have had to be very strict with myself regarding the hours I work. When you work from home it is all too easy to continue working long into the night and forgetting the importance of “switching off”. As the saying goes; “You can’t drink from an empty cup”.

Evening
Once work is done for the day, I make time to call and check in on friends, either via text or online video platform. It’s actually been amazing to connect with people so regularly. This is something that ordinarily I don’t have time to do as I am usually rushing around to complete some errand. I feel that during this time of isolation, I have made deeper connections with my friends. Paying closer attention to each other’s emotions and learning so much more about one another.

Sometimes I take this time to learn a little Spanish (been living in Spain 5 years and can only just about order a glass of wine).

Dinner usually takes about an hour to prepare. At least once a week I like trying new recipes found online and “making do” with alternate ingredients from the backs of my cupboards, there have been mixed results. Of course, I’m not Mary Poppin’s, some evenings are spent eating left over’s or getting a food delivery.

Late Evening
By the time dinner is finished it is usually around 8pm and time to sit with the fur babies and watch a series or movie on Netflix.

At around 10.30-11pm I ensure that the house is tidy and dishes are washed, etc. This way before heading to bed I know that tomorrow will start with a clean fresh slate.

 

Everyone’s routine is different, the important thing is to have a routine. If there are days that you really don’t feel like getting out of bed or doing some of the things on your list, that’s okay. Let yourself have those days and enjoy them.

Try writing down a daily schedule for yourself, break the day up into segments and make it as detailed as possible. Do your best to stick to your schedule for a week and see how you feel at the end of it.

I do hope that this will have inspired you to KEEP GOING. These strange times will all be over soon and life will return to normal. STAY STRONG.

If you feel you need emotional support or counselling to help you through these unprecedented times. Please, reach out. PineappleSupport.org

Continue Regular Therapy Online

There’s a lot to be stressed about – Virus, friends, family, economy, jobs, empty shelves at the grocery store. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, you are not alone.

While everyone is unique in their reactions to isolation, you may be likely to have feelings of loneliness, sadness, fear, anxiety and stress. These emotions are perfectly normal given the current circumstances.

A recent study published by The Lancet reported negative psychological effects of quarantine including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion and anger. These effects can be felt both during and after the period of quarantine.

During this isolation period you may be feeling cut off from the rest of the world, unable to continue your usual routine and with no control over what is happening. It is important to create a new normal (for now) routine, to maintain connections with your loved ones and to keep the mind and body healthy and active.

It is important to practice self-compassion, to keep up to date with the facts and necessary information on the virus, without allowing our anxiety to get the better of us.

Taking steps to protect your mental health

If you find that you are struggling with your emotions during this period of isolation, it is important to seek professional help. Many therapists are shifting to online therapy and all Pineapple Support therapists, counsellors and coaches provide teletherapy either via video platform or over the telephone.

If you are currently seeing a therapist and have concerns regarding switching from in person to online therapy, you may discover that online therapy works better for you and your needs. But, if you discover that you still prefer in-person appointments, there is no need to worry. This situation is not permanent and once the social distancing efforts have subsided, you can return to regular, face-to-face meetings.

If you feel you could benefit from speaking with therapist and qualify for Pineapple Support subsidized therapy, please reach out and we will connect you with one of our industry friendly therapists, counsellors or coaches.

 

Resources

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/does-online-therapy-actually-work_n_58af1ffde4b060480e05bd79?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAA-DFVkQ3Y-cDk80cBm1W3jy-Kchis-a0Ocm0358ur5sF6l6RiWhEjWlMbXnPyKCc3SZ1ueKQ6-Il9HV__1a9Gv7OLCqyy2cacPqlPadhmQnQCFHkbMP1NRVwF9HTau9b-Lb3GLGTOFSfVMU8U6FXi1gb6uXWmgvC3qzz4s-gkvc

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Fmanaging-stress-anxiety.html

https://www.verywellmind.com/transition-to-online-therapy-during-coronavirus-4799808

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-pacific-heart/202003/coronavirus-anxiety-should-i-see-my-therapist-face-face

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673620304608

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15324539

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30460-8/fulltext#seccestitle150

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/20/coronavirus-wake-up-millennials-prioritize-your-mental-health-right-now-says-psychotherapist.html

Maintain A Connection With the People You Love

In the current crisis, when we are being asked to self-isolate and practice social distancing, it is more important than ever to maintain a connection with the people you love.

As humans we are naturally pack animals, this makes communication and positive social connections essential for our mental health and help us cope in times of stress. Communication during isolation can be as simple as phoning a friend to share your emotional experience, using videoconferencing technology to check in with a family member, or spending quality time with the people you live with.

 

Loneliness and the feeling of being disconnected to humanity is natural during these times and some may feel powerless to these emotions. Reach out to your friends and family to check that they are okay. A simple text message or phone call to let a person know that you are thinking of them can bring needed assurance and positive energy.

Many of us are living with a partner, house mates, family members, it is important to have communication and relationships with those outside of the house as tensions are sure to rise.

Luckily for us, we live in a time of technology and the options we have are vast. Google hang-out, Skype, Face-Time, WhatsApp, Houseparty, Zoom, to name a few – these platforms are free to use and a great, fun way to virtually connect when in-person contact isn’t possible.

Whenever possible, try to use video calling for social communication. Facial expressions and body language form a large part of human interaction and alert us to a person’s mood, giving a much deeper and effective connection than voice call. In these times of isolation, non-verbal communication has even greater importance as they can provide a feeling of “presence”.

We would love to hear your ideas on how to stave off loneliness during isolation. Here are some of our ideas:

1) Have a virtual date night with a friend or another couple.
2) Start a new activity together, such as reading a book or watching a series. Check in with each other and call or text to discuss.
3) Arrange a virtual party with games or a dress theme.
4) Learn something new together, like a language, cooking or art.

However you decide to communicate with your loved ones during isolation, please remember; You are not alone. We are all in this together.

If you would like to speak to a Pineapple Support volunteer please visit PineappleSupport.org

 

With love from Leya Tanit

resources

https://www.psychology.org.au/getmedia/d7cb8abd-3192-4b8f-a245-ace9b8ef44d5/20APS-IS-COVID-19-Isolation-P1.pdf

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/conscious-communication/202003/maintaining-relationships-while-practicing-social-distancing

https://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/2020/03/25/phil-sharp-tips-to-succeed-in-isolation/

https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html

4 Ways to look after yourself in a crisis

Hello you, how’re you feeling at the moment?

I’m honest with you, I’m feeling overwhelmed by this worldwide crisis and by all the information my mind, body, and soul gets fed with. I try to stay positive and see the crisis as a chance but some days it is more difficult to stay positive than others.

This is why I have decided to write some positive and uplifting words to show you that you are not alone in this situation and that there are options to create positive emotions and rituals in a time of uncertainty.

So what can you do if you feel anxious and overwhelmed? How can you find a way to ease your mind?

Here are 4 ways you can try

1. Limit news and social media

It is important to stay informed but it can get too much for our mental and physical health to digest all this news. The fact that most of the news you see at the moment is negative can grow fear, anxiety, and depression.

So why not limit your daily news and social media consumption?

Instead of listening to the news or scrolling through social media in the morning and evening, create a nourishing morning ritual and a soothing evening ritual. This will help you to start your day energised and to fall asleep less worrying.

2. Routine

In times of change and uncertainty, it is important to have a daily routine. A daily routine can help you to cope with the change, easing anxiety and stress. The routine you create for yourself can be your anchor and can make you feel grounded. By incorporating positive daily habits and self-care into your daily routine your mental and physical health will profit.

What could you incorporate into your routine?
Movement
Meditation
Yoga
Morning + Bedtime ritual
Healthy diet
Time to unwind and relax
Time with your loved ones

3. Connect + communicate

As we are all in this together, it is important to connect with people you feel safe, held, grounded and loved. Even if you can’t see our loved ones physically, you can meet them virtually. You can call them, video call them, e-mail or even write them a letter.

Organise and schedule coffee/tea dates with your friends or a loved family member. You can schedule a date to practice yoga, meditation or a fitness workout with your best friend or training buddy.

Create an online book club, an art class, coffee club, music class, etc. There are no rules, so let your imagination flow and create something to connect with each other 🙂

4. Be kind and compassionate – Loving-Kindness Meditation

I want to invite you to close your eyes and take 20 minutes for yourself to listen to this loving-kindness meditation from Kristin Neff:

https://self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/LKM_cleaned.mp3

As words are so powerful, try to repeat these words every day:

May I be safe
May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I live with ease

We’re all different and we all have different needs, so it is important to find your way to take care of yourself. I recommend that you try out different things and see how you feel. How do you already care for yourself mentally and physically? Is there something new you want to try?

I also want to tell you that whatever you are feeling at the moment is okay. Try to talk to someone if your anxiety or stress gets overwhelming. I think it is really important that we talk, help and take care of each other.

I hope you liked this article. If you have questions, inputs or want to schedule an online session with me, I would love to hear from you: therapy@denise-wolf.com

Written by Denise Wolf

denise-wolf.com

My Story by Kena Love, with advice from therapist Nicki Line

I’m one of the many people who follow your tweets on twitter and I just had to write ya a quick email in regards to addiction and sex work for myself. See unfortunately they both go hand in hand. I can’t do dates without being high. And now I get paid to had sex just to support my habit. It wasn’t always that way. At first it was a high in itself to be wanted so badly by men who wanted to pay big $ to fuck me. But when my friends realized what I was doing I began to hate myself a Lil bit more every day. First came opiates but when I take them I can’t get turned on/wet/ or cum at all. That’s when I was introduced to meth. First time I did it I was hooked. I fucked for hours . My orgasms were amazing and all I could think about was getting that next on hit and dick.

Hello Kena,

I agree with you that the sex industry does have a high rate of individuals who struggle with addiction in one form or another. Let me start my response by defining addiction as I understand it. Addiction is an obsessive compulsive out of control behavior done in spite of negative consequences for self or others. Under this definition any behavior can be an addiction whether it is sex, shopping, food, or substances. While reading your email the stages of addiction and the cycle it can keep a person in comes to mind: initial use, abuse, increased use, dependency, and relapse. You describe “at first is a high … to be wanted so badly by men” which started the process of looking for an outside person or thing to regulate an internal issue. It felt good and distracted from other feelings in the initial stage. Then you started to have an internal conflict of your work and self-worth, to numb those feelings you started taking opiates and the opiates numb feeling as well as your body. Continuing to search for an external cure you tried meth which gives you a feeling of euphoria and increases sexual desire which switched your reward center in your brain into overdrive. This is where you need to increase your use to get the high or reward you felt the first time; which will never happen because you have already experienced it once. Now you are used to the combination of work and meth and you are dependent on them to function “normally.” I imagine it is hard to working without the meth and when or if you try you crave the substance which leads someone to relapse. You are correct in that it is a cycle and it is a cycle anyone can break if they learn and use new tools in recovery. Recovery is not easy and requires a person to develop new coping skills to use instead of the obsessive compulsive behavior. I will go into more detail about all of the topics I have touched on above in the Pineapple support group on Sundays. I hope you keep fighting for yourself.

Sincerely,
Nicki Line LMHC CST

Acknowledging my Addiction – by Rogan Damiana

Addiction has affected me in some way my entire life. Starting with family members who had problems with addiction to my own issues with substance control in my adult life. I didn’t used to think I had a problem. Drinking was a massive part of my social interaction. Alcohol allowed me to be “fun”. At least that is what I told myself. I didn’t drink during the day; I wasn’t missing work or life events. I just partied hard when I did socialize until the partying turned into an every evening event.

I would immediately start drinking most nights when I got home from work and continue until I could no longer stay awake. Binge drinking was something I had heard of but was not associating with myself.

This destructive path of using binge drinking to cope with my complete unhappiness with my life finally culminated in a very nearly successful suicide attempt in April 2018. I had decided I was done trying and overdosed on my anxiety meds plus a gross amount of alcohol. I will never forget the jarring feeling I had waking up in the ICU, then reading my discharge papers detailing my overdose. It was in that moment I knew I had to change my destructive behavior.

The sense of comfort alcohol provided was false. It was wrecking my body physically and causing more stress mentally than it was relieving. I had allowed alcohol to bring out the worst of myself, hurting the people around me who loved me. The amount of money I wasted on numbing myself is staggering. I can think of so many more meaningful ways I could have used that money. Getting unstuck from negative thought patterns like that has helped me to move forward.

Staying sober from alcohol has not been easy but forgiving myself for the mistakes I made helps with the process. We can not change the past. I can’t take back the hateful words I used or actions I took out of anger with myself. The effects of my actions will always be.

For me recovery is changing the way I live. Through therapy and my small circle of support, I work consistently to change my thinking. The biggest challenge I have faced in this process is liking myself. Redirecting my perspective to acknowledge the positive aspects of my life and accomplishments helps combat the negative self-talk. When I start to get overwhelmed, I remind myself that I am doing everything possible to fix my life and that change takes time. There is already a noticeable difference in how I handle adverse situations that come up. Instead of immediately intoxicating myself to avoid dealing with the negative, I think through what actions I can take to make things better.

My social life has changed considerably since stopping my alcohol use and I have learned to be ok with that. Watching people I used to spend a lot of time with drift away has been hard. I hold no bad feelings towards this, relationships shift and change all the time. While being around others who are drinking is not a trigger for me, I have found I do not enjoy those environments anymore. I don’t hold that in common with those people that were in my life previously.

I also found that I had to strengthen my confidence in letting people know I do not drink. While to me it isn’t an issue that I don’t drink, I have received a variety of reactions when telling others. When I started this journey I would feel uncomfortable turning down a drink when offered because of the follow up questions that frequently followed. The well meaning “oh, one drink won’t hurt”, “but you’re so fun when you drink”, and my least favorite to deal with the misguided pity responses. In my ideal world just saying no would be enough. When pressed I generally reply with “Alcohol and I do not agree anymore” and leave it at that. I still go out; I still like to see live music and art shows. Now I do it without masking my anxiety with alcohol. I take a minute to go outside if the crowd is overwhelming. Also, allowing myself to be ok with

leaving an outing earlier than others helps so much. I enjoy myself and when I’m out of social energy it is time to go home. Putting my health and well being first felt weird in the beginning, but soon became a habit I don’t even notice anymore.

Addiction looks and feels different for all of us. It is a very personal issue to deal with. I hope sharing my story and how I handle this continuing journey will bring some hope. It is possible to survive after addiction and while it isn’t always easy, keep going. There will still be days that suck and challenge you. Every small change you make to create a better life for yourself will pay off. The proof I have to offer is myself. I am still here, still breathing, still trying, and succeeding. I hope this gives you the energy to try too.

If you would like to contribute to addiction month, please submit your article or video to contact@pineapplesupport.org

Submissions can remain anonymous.

5 Things to Remember in Early Sobriety

Kristie Overstreet Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST

So here you are in early recovery. You’ve decided to get sober, and you’re feeling okay most days. You know that the tough times are coming, and early sobriety isn’t easy. Here are the five things to remember in early recovery to help you stay sober.

1. Fill your downtime
Especially in early recovery, it can be hard to have downtime. Your substance use consumed your time, and now that your sober, what will you do with the extra time on your hands?

Avoid idle downtime by filling your schedule with things to do. Whether it’s visiting friends, going to a 12-step meeting, or working on your to-do list, don’t sit around aimlessly. Your addiction is wanting you to give it an excuse to use, which can be avoided by staying busy.

2. Get back in touch with your hobbies
Many times in active addiction, it’s easy to lose touch with the things you use to enjoy doing. Now that your sober, you have more time to enjoy hobbies or things that interest you.

If you are struggling to remember what these are, think back to what you enjoyed doing growing up. Did you play video games, draw, or play the guitar? Have you wanted to try something new like painting, yoga, or getting a pet? Try making a list of things that interest you and pick a new one each week. Hobbies will help you find enjoyment in the little things that you use to not have time for.

3. Get active
Your body wants to move, and being active in your sobriety is a great coping skill. Your brain used to be stimulated by substances that released feel-good chemicals, and now that they are not triggered, you’ll need to access them through exercise.

Sure, you can’t 100% simulate the high you received from your substance of choice, but being active can access the same area of the brain. Have you ever heard of a runner’s high? It’s the feeling you get after running that makes you feel like you are on top of the world. Find some form of exercise or physical activity that you enjoy.

4. Find your triggers and how to cope
Everyone has different things that trigger them to one to use. Whether it’s people, places, or things, you need to know which ones to watch out for in your recovery. Make a list of things that make you want to use your substance of choice. No matter how small or large they are, add them to the list.

After you have listed your triggers, then identify a coping skill you will use with each of them. For example, going into a particular place where you used may be a trigger for you. One coping skill is to avoid the location for a while, or you will have someone who supports your recovery with you when you go there. Knowing your triggers and how to cope with each of them will help you stay sober.

5. Surround yourself with support
The more supportive people you have around you, the better chance you’ll have in early recovery. Whether it’s friends, family, a sponsor, or other sober people, remember that you are not alone.

You will feel like you’re the only one, so avoid being alone and isolative. Force yourself to get outside and around others. Challenge yourself to reach out to one person each day, even if it’s only a few minutes. Doing this will keep you in the habit of staying connected.

Recovery from your substance of choice is hard, but you’ve done harder things in your life. Your sobriety will be challenged daily, so you’ll have to recommit each day you wake up. As time goes by, it will get easier, but you’ll need to stay focused on doing what’s right for you and not those around you.

Taking it one day at a time can be too difficult, so break it down to one hour or one minute at a time. Your future is worth it, and you can’t have it while you are in active addiction.

How do I know if I’m an addict?

The word “addiction” is a strange one. It’s thrown around everyday speech like it’s a normal everyday occurrence. We’ll hear people say, “Oh, I’m addicted to Netflix” ….. “I’m so addicted to chocolate / buying shoes”….and so on and so on. But we shouldn’t really be saying that, because addiction in its most serious forms is a silent killer, and a mental, physical, emotional and spiritual illness, affecting every part of our being – and our loved one’s too.

So how do we know if we’re an addict? Surely everyone is addicted to something, and if everyone is doing it, then it can’t be that bad, right? Hopefully this article will give some insight as to how to recognise some of the lesser known signs of addiction.

Primarily, addiction is about consequences – the results of our behaviour. The World Health Organisation recognises addiction is “continuous use despite negative consequences”.

We can trick ourselves into thinking, “well, I didn’t hurt anyone, so what’s the big deal? No negative consequences for me”. But challenge yourself to consider your emotional consequences – shame, guilt, self sabotage, anxiety, depression. Do these things keep happening after you act out on your addiction? Then it’s a consequence. What about the consequences on your family and loved one’s? What would they say about your addiction?

Are you keeping it secret? That’s a consequence. When we really take a fearless, moral inventory of our behaviour, it requires us to take a long hard look at ourselves and can reveal uncomfortable truths.

Amongst recovery circles, there’s a saying, “secrets keep you sick”. Often that’s the pull of addiction – it becomes a secret. Thrilling at first, then as it progresses (and it will because that’s the very nature of addiction) the secret becomes bigger and bigger, until it becomes too big to share.

Denial and comparison are two other things to look out for with our addictive behaviours. These two keep our addiction secret. We’ll often hear people say, “well, I can’t be an addict, because I only do it on the weekends”. But addiction is not about quantity, it’s about the effect that it has on your life and the lives of those around you. There is always a cause and effect to all of our behaviour – even if we don’t know the people who are involved in our acting out.

When we start to look out for our own individual signs of addiction, we’ll often find that the slippery slope to addiction starts with us reacting to the same triggers, whether that’s a person, place or thing. But one thing which is common to all addicts is the sense of wanting “MORE” and not hearing that self-regulation button of stopping. And that’s the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results.

Hopefully this article gives more of an insight rather than a directive as to where you’re at with your own journey of addiction. Remember – if in doubt, speak it out. There is always someone who has been on a similar journey. Promise. X

 

Written by Camilla Simpson