How To Deal With Depression During COVID-19
May 15, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has not been easy on anyone’s mental health. The safety measures that have been put into place across the globe, such as lockdown and social distancing, are effective and necessary, yet also make managing depression a greater challenge. It’s easy during this time to be overwhelmed with fear, anxiety, and depressive thoughts. However, there are habits and tasks you can set out on to help manage your depression while also staying safe.
In this article, we will discuss:
- Habits you can keep up at home
- How to leave the home safely
Habits You Can Maintain While Social Distancing
You may be stuck inside, but there’s a lot you can still do to cope with depression. The habits detailed below can help you or a loved one combat negative feelings during this pandemic. They are habits you may already be familiar with, but due to the amount of time we are now having at home, keeping up with these habits are more important than ever. What’s even better, these habits are ones you can maintain while practicing social distancing.
An oldy but a goody. Eating healthy is actually a big help for feeling generally good. Foods can have an adverse affect on your brain and mood, and it can help to avoid the foods and beverages that have a negative effect. This means reducing your intake of caffeine, alcohol, trans fat, and foods that include high levels of chemical preservatives or hormones, such as some types of meat. While you snack during your Zoom call, instead of going for the junk food snack, go instead for some fruit or other healthy alternatives. Junk food is delicious, but leads to crashes of mood and energy.
It’s also important not to skip meals. It may be easy to lose a sense of time and schedule while staying at home, but you can maintain some consistency in your day with meals. And of course, our meals are where we get our energy from. So when we go for too long without food, we are more prone to irritability and tiredness.
Nothing feels better than getting a good night’s sleep. You may notice while social distancing that you’ve lost a sense of time and are more confused than usual about what day it is. This can get in the way of keeping a healthy sleep schedule. Every individual needs a varying amount of sleep to feel well, but you should aim for around eight hours every night. Sleeping too much can be just as harmful as sleeping too little, so try to find that healthy balance. Of course, the amount of sleep you get means nothing if you’re sleeping poorly. If you are having a hard time getting good sleep, make your room more comfortable and darker.
Being at home every day means less opportunity to go out and stretch your legs. This is unfortunate, as staying active is a great way to help with ridding yourself of depressive thoughts. However, there are exercises you can do at home. Consistent exercise is effective at fighting symptoms of depression, but it can be difficult to get into a habit of it. If you want to want to be working out daily, it helps to get started at the same time every day. You don’t have to exercise for long or too hard for it to make a difference, so don’t push yourself too much. If you need further motivation, it can help to get a friend or family member in on it. Facetime a friend as you each do some crunches.
Getting some sunlight is also a great way to get into a better mood, thanks to its ability of boosting your serotonin levels. Staying inside for the entirety of the pandemic is not realistic nor healthy. You should be leaving the house every now and then to catch some sunlight, preferably at least for 15 minutes a day. As long as you follow the health precautions detailed later in this article, going on a walk a couple times a week is a viable option of exercise.
Socialize With Loved Ones
Social distancing doesn't mean you can’t have any contact whatsoever with the ones that matter to you. While you may not be able to meet with anyone in person, you can still text and do phone calls. Catch up with the people that you would normally see on a daily basis. And for those that you live with, don’t let relationships get strained with tension and stress. Do something fun with the ones you live with every now and then. Stayed connected to your loved ones, even if your depression is making it difficult to reach out.
Enjoy the Things You Love
You may not be able to go outside the home to do the activities you love, such as eating at restaurants, going to the mall, or heading to the gym, but this is the time to focus on the activities you love that you can accomplish at home. Doing the things that energize or calm you is a great way of overcoming depression, and you can use this time to do more of what you enjoy. Finally read that book that’s been sitting in your bookcase for a decade. Grow a garden, paint your walls, or build something with the things in your junk drawer. Make time for activities that you like, and you’ll find enjoyment in the time you give yourself each day.
How To Leave The Home Safely
Of course, you can’t stay at home during the pandemic forever. Grocery shopping is essential, and staying in the house without some fresh air can become unbearable. What’s more, you may still need to leave your home to pick up medication. Leaving the house at some point for an essential errand or breather is inevitable, so when you need to leave, make sure to be responsible and follow these health precautions so that you don’t get sick or spread the virus.
Wear a Mask
Of course, if you’re entering an establishment or area where you know you’ll encounter others, like at the grocery store, wear a face mask. Wearing a mask reduces the risk of spreading the coronavirus exponentially. And the slower the spread is, the faster we can get back to normal. In some places, wearing a mask is mandatory. So always be prepared with a mask and don’t go out without it.
Keep A Healthy Distance From Others
Wearing a mask is not the only thing you can and should do. You should also maintain a healthy six feet from others, at least. This means you should make room for others, and politely ask for more room if you feel someone is too close. So when you’re standing in line or in a group outside of those you live with, practice the six feet rule for yours and others’ safety.
Wash Your Hands
Before you leave home, you should wash your hands to protect others. Once you return from your trip outside, make sure the first thing you do is wash your hands again. The simple act of washing your hands well can go a long way in preventing the spread. You can also wipe down anything you bring into your home, including groceries, mail, and takeout. In order to make a difference, wash your hands with hand soap and for about 20 seconds. The effort is well worth it.
On top of the mask and keeping six feet apart from others, you should also avoid touching objects that are typically touched by others. This could include buttons for walk signs, railings, doors, and water fountains. Instead of using your hands, use your elbow, knee, feet, or knuckles. This is necessary as if you use your hands to perform your tasks, you may forget to wash your hands before later touching your face or food.
This is a difficult time for everyone. Social distancing is putting a strain on people economically, socially, and emotionally. With all these stresses, depressive thoughts can become ever more persistent. With the following habits, you can help combat depressive thoughts while staying at home and keeping safe. And when you leave home, you know what you have to do to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Stay at home and try out some of these habits.