Suffering from depression is already hard enough. Maybe you’ve had to adjust medications to find the right combination or you’re getting therapy to treat your depression. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit us all. People who normally don’t struggle with depression are fighting the blues due to social restrictions and find themselves becoming increasingly isolated, lonely, and well, depressed.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created another pandemic globally–depression. There are some things you can do to fight back so this difficult time doesn’t drag you down and get the best of you.
What Can You Do to Fight Back Against Depression?
The biggest problem for most people right now is not being able to socialize normally with family and friends. This makes virtual connections more important than ever before. Using video calling services isn’t the same as being there, but it can help you feel more connected to others, even from a distance. Some TV providers are offering special “watch party” services so you can sit down with friends and family virtually and watch a TV show or movie together. These services may not be as good as being there in person but they can help fill the gap and make us feel more connected to our support system.
The news these days can be quite overwhelming and not in a good way. While it’s good to stay connected to friends and family, sometimes it’s also good to disconnect from the negativity in the news. That’s not saying to bury your head in the sand and pretend the real world doesn’t exist, because it does. However, watching a news channel all day or spending your day reading news sites on the Internet is not productive and can negatively affect you. You may set limits that you’ll check the news when you get up in the morning and do a quick check before bed, for instance. You can also limit the time you spend reading the news to 30 minutes. It’s important to update yourself, particularly with news about vaccinations and COVID-19, but don’t let yourself become obsessed.
Get Off the Couch
We know you’ve heard people telling you to start exercising to bounce back from the depression caused by isolation. That’s particularly important if you already suffer from depression. Not only are you dealing with isolation, but perhaps also the stress of being unemployed or working from home with a house full of family. This is not easy, especially for so many months.
To help cope with stress, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends stretching and meditation, which almost anyone can do no matter their current health status. You don’t have to train for a marathon to get moving, just do some kind of exercise regularly. That doesn’t mean spend two hours on an exercise bike and then take the rest of the week off. That one bout of exercise helps, but it’s best to go for consistency. Try to exercise for 30-60 minutes 4-5 days a week. Maybe you can make it a family activity.
The CDC also recommends getting plenty of sleep and eating healthy, well-balanced meals. This includes recommendations such as a healthy fat, cutting down on sodium, increasing your fiber, and trying to add a variety of color to your plate. If you already do those things to keep yourself healthy, keep doing them. If you haven’t been exercising or eating right, now’s the time to start. You may be tempted by unhealthy delivery meals, but cooking can be a family activity and if you live alone, try an online cooking class.
Get a Hobby
When COVID-19 first struck, it seemed like a wonderful thing to be able to work from home if you were lucky enough to have the option. You may have sworn to do all that cleaning and organizing you’ve been planning for years. If you had a hobby you wanted to pursue, you may have thought ”Now I’ll have the time.” But months later you’re still sitting in an unorganized house and all that stuff you ordered online for your hobby is sitting unopened. You’re sitting on the couch in the same sweatpants you’ve worn for three days and binge-watching TV shows you’ve already seen. Sound familiar?
You’re limited on the kinds of hobbies that you can begin during social distancing but open those boxes and bags and start that hobby today. I mean now. Whether it’s crafting, painting, online piano lessons, or learning to sew, it’s time to get started. If you have to give yourself structure for your daily activities, schedule in exercise time and hobby time. Even if it means just sitting down and reading a good book for your hobby. Whatever activity you choose, it can add needed structure to your day to help keep you active and help prevent depression from getting the better of you.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a hard time for everyone but especially those who were already suffering from depression. Using some of the techniques above can help you fight back. Just remember, if you start feeling overwhelmed and more depressed, talk to a counselor if you have one, and if you don’t, you can utilize various mental health services such as online telehealth. If you feel yourself slipping down the path to further depression and begin to have suicidal thoughts, get help immediately. Call a friend or call the national suicide hotline at (800) 273-8255. You can also call us at Everlast Recovery Center. We not only treat substance use disorders but mental health issues as well. We understand how difficult depression can be, especially now. We have professional counseling staff at our Riverside, California facility who can talk to you and help you work through this difficult time. Reach out and let us help. Call us today and learn how we can help at 866-DETOX-25, (866-338-6925).