Coping With COVID-19

Tabitha Turner via Unsplash

How are you doing?

It’s an important question for just about everyone these days. I think it’s an especially important question for those in the recovery community.

Way back in May — which seems like 100 years ago — National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Dr. Nora Volkow spoke about the need for social support.

In short, it’s more important than ever to reach out for support, and to support those around you.“We are social creatures, we are human beings, and we depend on social support in order to actually do many things and for a sense of wellbeing,” Volkow said in a taped interview. She continued, “And this is also the case for individuals that are fighting drugs or are in recovery. The social supports are fundamental for providing a structure that will increase the likelihood that they will succeed. So as we in the COVID epidemic have had to observe social distancing, this makes it much harder for those who are trying to achieve recovery or are in recovery to stay in recovery when those social structural systems are no longer there.”

In short, it’s more important than ever to reach out for support, and to support those around you.

When we might feel the most alone because of the need to socially distance, we need to remember to use all the supports that are out there. Many services have moved online. While for a lot of people, video chat or phone calls are not as satisfying as being in person, they are a lot better than not having it when you need support, community, a friend.

Meanwhile, little things matter. What can you do to take care of yourself?

Here are a few tips:

Keep yourself healthy

  • Eat healthy foods, and drink water.
  • Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine.
  • Get enough sleep and rest.
  • Get physical exercise.

Use practical ways to relax

  • Relax your body often by doing the things that work for you — take deep breaths, stretch, meditate, engage in pleasurable hobbies, or even do something as simple as washing your face and hands.
  • Pace yourself between stressful activities and do a fun thing after a hard task.
  • Use time off to relax — eat a good meal, read, listen to music, or talk to family.
  • Talk about your feelings to loved ones and friends often.

Pay attention to your body, feelings, and spirit

  • Recognize and heed early warning signs of stress.
  • Recognize how your own past experiences affect your way of handling an event and think of how you handled past events. Focus on the ways you handled them well.
  • Know that feeling stressed, depressed, guilty, or angry is common after a traumatic event.
  • Connect with others — a socially distanced walk, a phone call, or video chat can help you stay connected and supported.
  • Take time to renew your spirit through meditation, prayer, or helping others in need.
  • Manage and alleviate your stress by taking time to take care of yourself.

You can find more tips at www.mn.gov/dhs/crisis/.

And remember, if it all becomes too much, there is help available.

  • There’s free phone support: Call or text 844-739-6369, from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • If you’d prefer to text, Crisis Text Line is there to help: Text “MN” to 741741.
  • And if you or someone you care about is in crisis: Call **CRISIS (274747) from a cell phone. Calling from a land line? See the directory of local mental health crisis phone numbers at www.mn.gov/dhs/crisis.

Your friends and loved ones care. We care. And we know you care, too.

So, how are you doing?


Gertrude Matemba-Mutasa is the Assistant Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Human Services. Have a question for the DHS? Let us know.

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