It’s no secret that COVID-19 has caused more than its share of fear on a global scale. From its origins in Wuhan, China, to its escalation and eventual spread to the worldwide theatre, the virus has affected nations of all sizes. With so much fear, anxiety, and uncertainly looming, how does one cope?
People affected by depression and other anxiety disorders are especially impacted by fear and panic. Depression causes its own fear, anxiety, and despair, without external factors adding to it. How do you handle depression when the world around you is adding extra fear on top of it?
Here we’ll discuss some helpful tips for navigating the COVID-19 outbreak with depression.
Rally Around Your Support Group
Whether it’s your family, friends, or an actual support group, you’ll need them in these times of fear and uncertainty. Don’t forget to check-in and communicate with your support group(s) during this COVID-19 situation. While most states have issued stay at home orders, you can still meet virtually or simply make a phone call/send a text.
It’s important to not let isolation make you forget that there are people who love you all around you. Make a phone call. Write a letter. Have a video chat. The interaction with a loved one can help release dopamine, which is the “feel-good” hormone in the brain. Seeing friendly faces and hearing familiar voices can make you feel more grounded and at home.
If you’re a member of an actual depression support group, be sure to check in with them as well, and check on the other members. Keeping this line of communication will help you remember that you’re not as alone as you feel.
Don’t Let Yourself Slip Into Lethargy
Becoming lethargic and falling away from your regular schedule during social distancing will only make things worse. When you’re thinking I’m so lonely, your schedule can help you recenter your thoughts and get back on track. Social isolation is certainly lonely for everyone, but keeping yourself busy can help distract you from negative thoughts.
If you’re laid off, maintain the sleep and wake up schedule you had when you were working. Wake up every day just like you’re going to work, and instead, do something productive in the house. Maybe you’ve been putting off cleaning your basement for months, or you need to reorganize and purge some unnecessary items in your home. Or, maybe it’s time to catch up on all of that reading you said you’d do so many months prior.
Just because the world has come to a stop, doesn’t mean you have to come to a stop as well. There are plenty of things to do while you’re stuck at home. You can even learn new skills with sites like Udemy. These sites offer online courses on all kinds of subjects, from creative writing to weight loss and more.
The bottom line? Keep a schedule. Stick to your sleep schedule, stay productive, and don’t let yourself become lethargic. An idle mind is much more likely to slip into depressive thoughts.
That’s right, it’s time to hit the weight bench you bought last summer that’s gathered dust since then. Part of not becoming lethargic means keeping those muscles active as well. Not to mention, exercise has been found in many studies to be an effective aid against depression. Moving your body gets the blood pumping, releases beneficial hormones into the body, and gives you a temporary confidence boost.
You don’t have to go for an eight-mile run, either. A few sets of push-ups, curls, or even jump-roping can be enough. As long as you’re getting up off the couch and moving your body, you’re doing good things for your mental health.
Not to mention, if you lose your workout or eating routine now, when social distancing comes to an end, it will be a hundred times harder to get back on it after a few weeks or months of neglecting it. You might gain weight, which comes with its own set of problems; not the least of which is an effect on your self-esteem.
Most stay at home orders don’t prohibit walking or jogging, so even if you don’t have equipment at home, you can take a walk every day, go jogging, or simply go outside and find an activity you can do.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line here is to take care of yourself. Don’t fall into lethargy, or let your schedule fall by the wayside. The more committed you are to taking care of yourself during these frightening times, the less you’ll worry.
Stay in touch with your loved ones as well. They’re your best support group, and the more contact you have, the more sane you’ll feel. Obviously, observe social distancing rules, and keep your interactions strictly digital.