With the sun coming out from hiding, the weather getting warmer, and the general liveliness that spring brings, you may be itching to get out of quarantine and hang out with friends and family. With the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, this may be incredibly tempting. While progress has been made on protecting people from the COVID-19, it is still vital that we maintain social distancing practices and are vigilant about the people we make contact with, especially because we are unsure about how the vaccine prevents the spread of the coronavirus.
Being in lockdown for such a long time may be causing you to feel extra anxious or depressed, which may be tempting you to abuse substances. However, the welcome of nicer weather can allow for more options for social activities than were previously unavailable, and the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine does allow for some types of social interaction to be permitted.
Safely Spending Time With People
While social distancing, wearing a mask, and limiting your interaction with others is important to keep yourself and others safe, there are a few cases where it is safe to be a little more relaxed about these rules. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that people who have been fully vaccinated can hang out unmasked in an enclosed private area with other people who have also been fully vaccinated. The CDC defines full vaccination as two weeks after the second dose of the vaccine is administered. Once fully vaccinated, you are also permitted to be unmasked in a household where only one person has not been vaccinated, as long as that person is not at high risk. However, large and medium gatherings are still not recommended.
Being able to be around small groups of people may make it possible for you to attend support groups or therapy sessions in person, which might make it easier for you to communicate or express your feelings. The ability to surround yourself with friends and family who support you may help relieve some of your anxiety and depression by fulfilling the human need for socialization.
With the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, you may be able to travel both nationally and internationally. You deserve a break from your everyday life, and going on vacation can give you time away from stressful situations. You can go on a road trip or spend a week at the beach taking in the sun. Maybe enjoy a vacation that requires physical activity like getting a cabin in the Poconos or going rafting near the Grand Canyon. Doing activities that bring life back to normal may relieve some of your anxiety and depression. It might also give you hope for the future and your ability to accomplish goals that the pandemic may have been holding you back from doing.
If you are not yet fully vaccinated and are looking for a way to relax, try a COVID-friendly vacation, such as vacationing in your backyard with a picnic blanket or cooling off with some sprinklers or a hose. Go for a safe, socially distanced walk or hike. Make yourself a fancy meal that you wouldn’t normally make or get take out from a nice restaurant. You deserve to have a break from stressful situations and, while you may not be able to physically distance yourself from them, you can still mentally distance yourself by forcing yourself to take a well-deserved break.
Being in Nature
COVID-friendly activities often include being in nature because it’s easy to practice social distancing and stay safe when you’re outside. You can go for a walk in the park or wake up early to go on a hike. You might even enjoy going for a run in the breezy mornings or afternoons. However, if the idea of outside physical activity doesn’t sound appealing to you, you can always read on your porch or have some fun by drawing with chalk. Being in the sun will give you some vitamin D, which will perk you up and distract you from the urge to drink. Also, being outdoors is the easiest way to change your environment and can also lift your mood.
Other Safe Activities
Some safe activities can get you out of the house, vaccinated or not, due to the change in weather. Since the weather is nicer and the days are longer, you can go out to eat and safely sit outside. You can also get take out for dinner and eat in a park since parks are now closing later and later. Drive-ins are also opening if you are looking for a safe way to watch movies that are in theaters or if you’re just eager to see something on the big screen. You can grill outside or roast marshmallows with some socially distanced or fully vaccinated friends.
Coping with a mental illness or substance use disorder can be difficult when you are locked up in your home. However, more options will become available to you for social activities as the weather becomes warmer and more and more people become vaccinated against COVID-19.
At Shoreline Recovery Center, we are diligently following the CDC safety guidelines to ensure the safety of both our staff and our clients. Providing a safe and COVID-free environment for you to explore your emotional ticks and triggers is our number one priority. We encourage our patients to participate in social activities with their peers at Shoreline Recovery Center so that each of our patients can build a supportive network. Our mental health professionals are eager to help you build tools to cope with your substance use disorder, even during the stress of the pandemic. If you or a loved one struggles with substance use disorder, please call us at (866) 278-8495 to learn more about our programs.