Balance in Recovery
Creating and implementing balance is already challenging. Creating and implementing balance during a pandemic poses many new challenges. When we are facing a crisis, such as COVID-19, our body and mind begin to take immediate action in preparation for survival. As LeDoux notes, “The amygdala is not a fear centre. It’s a system in the brain that detects and responds to danger. But fear is our awareness that we’re in danger.” How can we find balance in recovery, even during a pandemic?
Are we in danger?
The first question we need to ask ourselves is “are we in danger?” We need to fact check this intense emotional response because it is often inaccurate, even if only partially so. How do we fact check this, you might ask? Imagine a lion in the room—its large body fills the room and appears hungry as it stares at you ready to pounce. This would be an appropriate time to allow all brain and body circuits to prepare for a survival response which is usually “run”—or would be if I was found in that situation. However, many times, that very real feeling of a lion in the room is just that—a feeling. To be clear, many thousands are facing real-life and immediate threats to their health, food and source of safety. Losing a job or a loved one is traumatic and life-changing. This article is geared to those of us who may be fearful of what the future may hold. Its focus is on how can we continue to implement a balanced living amid this life-altering event in ways that can both be realistic and helpful? Schorling (2009) emphasizes that “life will never change if you are waiting for the future.” All we have is this moment and, in this moment, what do you choose as your focus?
Explore Core Values
What are the values in your life that govern your actions and interactions with others? No matter the circumstances, when we are in alignment with our core values we begin to find inner peace no matter the circumstances. Check out this free test to explore your personal core values. Are you in alignment?
Live with Authenticity
According to Moskowitz, when you are in alignment with your values, you are “living with authenticity”. When we are living with authenticity, I would venture to say that we have an innate physical and emotional feeling. This next step requires a consistent practice of mindfully checking in with your body. Our body carries information that we often miss because we are distracted, for example, by a pandemic. However, our body is always there providing what we need. To increase our awareness of our body, it is important to implement a daily mindfulness practice, even if it is only 5-10 minutes of space to deep breathe, do a body scan, mindfully journal or whatever appears to present itself in the moment. Here is a list of different types of mindfulness practices you can try.
Also, a free mindfulness app I use often is Insight Timer which can also be an excellent way to begin exploring mindfulness!
Whether in the midst of a pandemic or in your regular day to day life, it is critical to be proactive in what balance looks like for you. Some common areas to consider are:
- Physical—create or continue an exercise routine. Regardless of the pandemic that we face, exercise can-and should-still be incorporated into our new normal. It may take some creativity, but it can be done! Check out these free resources right now to keep exercising at home: https://www.fastcompany.com/90481514/these-free-online-exercise-offers-will-help-keep-you-fit-and-sane-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic
- Nutritional—eat balanced food that will help fuel our healthy emotional and physical well-being.
- Emotional—continue therapy or treatment you have been currently attending or recognize a need to begin accessing support for yourself. Remember, you can always access these in case of emergencies: Behavioral Health Link/GCAL: 800-715-4225. Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 (National Crisis Line).
- Interpersonal—begin the healing process of wounds between you and someone else or maintain self-respect by saying “no” to unhealthy people in your life.
- Professional—continue to put expected work efforts towards your job or expand your professional growth through reading, listening to podcasts and improving yourself. Check out the “Hidden Brain” podcast for more information on how our brain works!
- Financial—be wise about expenses, seek out support to help align your finances with your needs and create a plan.
- Spiritual—explore or continue your own spiritual journey, however that may look for you or go one step beyond where you are spiritually by joining a virtual support group of people with similar mindsets.
- Communal—ensure that you are staying connected with those who are important to you and who invest positively in your life as well as seeking out ways to invest in others.
What can we control?
Even in the midst of a pandemic, there are still many aspects within our control. Of course, we cannot control how this virus will manifest itself or how it directly affects each of us. We cannot control decisions being made on a larger scale that affect our day-to-day lives. However, we can control what we choose to do each day in creating balance, what we choose as our focus and how we can increase our awareness of our thoughts and emotions that can present themselves as scary lions.
Contributed by Staff Clinician Rebekah Tchouta, LMSW
For more information about how Centered Recovery can help you with your addiction recovery even during quarantine, call 800.556.2966.
Balancing Your Life at Work and Home. (2009). Journal of oncology practice, 5(5), 253–255. https://doi.org/10.1200/JOP.091018
COVID-19: The amygdala detects and responds to danger, but the conscious mind experiences fear. Smith, C. (2020). https://www.straight.com/news/1373561/unravelling-mysteries-human-mind-response-covid-19-pandemic