Week 2: Staying Positive in Isolation

The outbreak of the Coroanvirus has resulted in a great deal of change to our lives and we all face the challenge of adapting to the ‘new normal’.

One of the main challenges will be to our mental health and it is vital that we take action to look after that part of our lives.

In Week 2 of GROW Mental Health Recovery’s a six-week initiative ‘Create Hope and Stay Positive’ in the face of Covid-19, we will focus on the topic of making sure we retain and create new positive connections despite isolation.

Over the coming days we will continue the theme of ‘connection’ with a podcast, recipe, a reading and further tips.

Listen to our Podcast for Week 2

Week 2: Staying Positive in Isolation

  • A friend is as near as the nearest phone

We all thrive on positive social interactions and there is no doubt that we miss that connectivity that is provided in normal lives – work, school, sport, hobbies, socialising etc, but thankfully there are an abundance of opportunities open to us.

Many of us have a little bit more time to spend with our families, or to get that regular exercise that we have been promising ourselves. Walking, cycling and running have become very popular over the past few weeks and are ideal activities to boost both your mental and physical health. This can also help us reconnect with nature and also provide some essential alone time.

We have a chance to do a few of those jobs around that house that have been on our minds for a while, such as gardening, painting, DIY. Except this time we can do it at a more leisurely place and give ourselves the time to enjoy the experience.

Other simple pleasures that perhaps we don’t normally have time to indulge in, include baking and cooking. This is a great way to be creative and include the family in an activity while also ensuring you are eating healthy and giving yourself a reason to be proud.

There are many other activities available you just need to be motivated and creative.

While we can’t meet up with our friends and family face-to-face, we have many opportunities to stay connected. Do just wait for somebody to contact you – get proactive and make that call.

As simple phone is a great way to stay connected, while technology allows us the opportunity to make video and group calls, so meeting up online is a growing trend across the country. We can also stay in touch by passing on vital information or sharing one of the many jokes that are circulating on a variety of apps.

Find out how you can safely help somebody who needs a little bit more help at this time.

Your GROW meeting may be suspended for a while but there are many ways to avail of the support of the group by keeping in contact with members of availing of the supports being provided by Area Co-ordinators, while also keeping up your 12 Step work.

Please remember that it is vital when making connections that you focus on those that are positive for you and will provide you with the encouragement and enthusiasm needed at this time.

It is also vital that you make time for some ‘self-care’. Make sure you create a little bit of space for yourself to get away from it all – whether that is taking a quiet walk, having a bath, reading or a bit of relaxation etc. 

Staying Connected Audio

Caroline Crotty, GROW Mental Health Recovery Area Co-ordinator, explains how staying connected and having the right connections is very important at this time.


This week we are going to start with the GROW task to encourage you to take positive steps to stay connected. Here are some tasks that can help you stay connected during the Covid-19 restrictions:

  • Create a journal and write down:
    • How do you like to be supported?
    • How can you get and give support in safe ways?
    • Think of somebody else that might need contact
    • Take action on getting connected
  • Social distance walking
  • Connect through Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp or Zoom (learn a new task)
  • You can watch movies or read books and discuss via text or social media
  • Or simply talk to somebody on the telephone

The Importance of Friendship

Friendship is the special key to mental health. It is a love of intimate sharing between mature equals.

The word ‘friend’ is used for three levels of relationships. These are:

  • Friends for play or leisure
  • Friends for work
  • Friends for living.
Only the last mentioned are friends in the fullest sense.

GROW Recipe

Cooking is a great way to stay connected – by having your family join in or it is something you could discuss with your friends and recommend they try it out.

If you get a chance, why not try out this week’s recipe?

Beef and Bean Minestrone Stew – kindly provided by RéNua Natural Health

Brief: Food – something to be shared with family at home or done alone as a two-day dinner, nourishing and wholesome.

Suggestion: One pot meal, vegetables and protein.  Can be plant-based or made using meat/poultry.  Using a range of easily sought and familiar ingredients.  Suitable for freezing or to have a second day.

Starch component/serve with – crusty bread


·         Familiar ingredients allows for confidence building in the kitchen.

·         Step-by-step recipe reads well and allows the chef to picture the finished dish

·         Can be vegetarian or meat based, delicious either way

·         Suitable for storage up to 3 days or freezing for longer

·         Plenty fibre from vegetables – makes up for low-fibre in the white crusty bread (which is great for mopping up)

·         Nutritional Profile

·         Excellent source of Vitamin A (betacarotene), Vitamin B12 and Zinc

·         Good source of Protein, Vitamin C and Fibre

GROW Reading

The value of friendship and positive connections are core GROW principles and the following passage from ‘Soul Survivors Vol 3’ illustrates just how important they are for our mental health.​

Why I Still Need GROW

The last two weeks, having been unable to attend, has been the longest I’ve been away from a GROW meeting.

Since first coming, it’s been paramount in our family since last year that at all costs my young child should be looked after to enable me to attend GROW. So a fortnight away was really a new departure. In spite of everything I held it together. Situations that previously would have had me in a dreadful state did arise – but my state of mind remained calm and so my actions remained practical.

The chaotic frenzy into which my mind would spin sending my world out of control ceased to have any hold over me. I could observe the chaos and this observation gave me choice. The choice to go with it or to reject it. The ability to observe comes from letting go of fear.

My need to plan, control and seek perfection all stem from one pathetic and hideous source – fear. Realising my progress during my time away raises a pertinent question. I’m doing well now, I’m coping, I’m stronger, I have skills and am putting these into practice – so why do I still need GROW?

The obvious answer that arises comes from my old friend fear. Maybe it’s all too good to be true. Now that I think I’m doing well I’m sure to fall flat on my face. But rather my need for GROW, better worded, my yearning for what GROW, offers me comes no longer from desperation but from a desire to be connected.

In contrast to the anti-social person I thought I was, I now find myself enjoying the benefits of being sociable. GROW taught me this and continues to teach me to improve this skill. I’m no longer looking for salvation from the torments of my mind, but instead the support that continues to enable me to face up to life rather than criticise it.

From the very first meeting her I knew I was on a journey of recovery. I felt confident that progress would come if my endeavour was sincere. I did come to GROW for salvation and I found it – it saved me from a life not worth living and instead presented me with one so bursting with an abundance of fresh uplifting zest. Like the allure of a bunch of fresh flowers tempting you to plunge forward and experience all their beauty in one sweet scented inhalation.

Could I every have known life like this without GROW? Real but not frightening. Gentle, safe but with strength of character.

The gratitude I feel is strong but not an answer to my original question. To use the words of CS Lewis, when asked about praying he said “I pray because I can’t help myself. It doesn’t change God, it changes me.”

Well, I come to GROW because I can’t help myself. It’s by continuing to be here, sharing my experiences, highlighting my progress and teasing out my problems that I can show my respect for GROW and those who make it up. How could I ever reach a point when I could say I no longer need support, I no longer need a listening ear, helpful advice and most importantly, friends.

For me the most wonderful gift that GROW offers is friendship – genuine, loyal, ever available. Who could ever have enough of that?

So as the summer starts to draw to a close, the winter nights that for so long paralysed me, no longer seem so disabling. For now I know that on the darkest of evenings a bright warm glow reminiscent of balmy days can be seen from a room in Barrack Street.

So for me GROW means that summer is always just around the corner.

How GROW helps deal with isolation

In an article in the Farmers Journal, Frank McMonagle explains how GROW Mental Health Recovery helped him deal with isolation.

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Contact our info line on 1890 474 474 for a friendly and trusted voice if you need to discuss any issues

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