For those with depression, the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) may be taking an emotional toll. With multiple cities and even entire countries shutting down, it is getting increasingly more difficult to stay calm and cope with depression.
For many, the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus is the most challenging to handle. While there are many prediction models available, no one knows exactly how and when this situation will end. This can make depression symptoms even worse, resulting in a decline in many people’s mental health. While these may be frightening times, there are many things you can do during this global pandemic to manage your depression.
- Get into a Routine
Depression can keep one from feeling in control of their life. One way to help counteract this feeling is by making a regular schedule and sticking with it. Not only will having a plan help you stay centered, it will keep you focused on the tasks at hand. A study published in the Annual Review of Psychology on psychological habits explained that people rely on their routines and habits when they are stressed. This suggests that establishing healthy routines could help with physical, emotional, and mental health during difficult times like these.
- Stay Connected
Whether this is through Facetime, skype, phone calls, or another digital platform, make it a point to stay in touch with your loved ones. Just because everyone is staying home and avoiding contact with others does not mean we cannot stay connected. If you are struggling with tough emotions, reach out to the most trustworthy person in your life to share how you are feeling.
If you do not already have a social-support system, there are many online support groups or social media communities related to your interests. At the end of the day, social distancing is just physical distancing, it does not mean we have to stop connecting with the people in our lives.
- Consume News Wisely
It is crucial that you stay informed about the pandemic, especially about what is happening in your community. However, there is an alarming amount of misinformation being communicated; mainly through media sites who are reporting information that is false or only partially true just to gain attention. Making it a point to get information regarding the pandemic from reliable sources can be very helpful in managing depression.
- Limit Your Media Consumption
While it is important to stay informed on the current world situation, please be mindful of the impact media consumption has on depression symptoms. If you feel checking the media is making your symptoms worse, it may be helpful to give yourself a particular time frame every day when you can read the news and check social media. For some people, eliminating social media all together can make a huge difference in how they feel.
- Stay Healthy
If there is a particular lifestyle (way of eating and movement) that you know helps support your mental health, keep doing it as much as you possibly can. Gyms may be closed, and grocery stores may have limited inventory, however, there are thousands of at home, equipment-free workouts and exercises all over the internet, as well as creative recipes for limited supplies that are available to help keep you healthy.
- Go Outside
While social distancing means people cannot go out in groups, it does not mean everyone is confined to their homes. Going out into nature can help manage symptoms of depression and help support your overall mental health. Walking, jogging, bike riding, and hiking are all fun activities which can be done outside and will help keep depressive feelings or symptoms at bay.
- Get Enough Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep can be an important step in managing depression. When a person is well-rested, they not only have more energy, but they may also have a more positive view on life as well as the ability to have better focus. Sleep recharges the system that fights germs and keeps the body healthy. When you do not get quality sleep, it throws your brain chemistry out of sync, making it harder to think clearly and manage your emotions.
Putting away all technology at least 30 minutes before going to bed can help make it easier for one to fall asleep. Many of us are unable to stop checking the news and media which ends up increasing our stress levels and impacting our mental health. Putting technology away beforehand prevents this and allows for a more relaxed mindset before bed.
- Focus on What You Can Control
There are so many things outside of our control, and while this can be difficult to accept, as long as we continue to focus on questions with unknown answers and circumstances outside of our control, we will just end up feeling drained, anxious, and overwhelmed.
To help combat this, try to focus on the things you can control. The main thing you can do right now is to focus on reducing your own personal risk, and in turn the risk of the people you come into contact with. You can do this by:
- Washing your hands frequently and using hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching your face
- Stay home and away from groups or crowds, even if you do not feel sick
- Avoid non-essential shopping and travel
- Follow any and all recommendations from health authorities
- Set Reasonable Goals
Life on the outside may have been put on pause, but that does not mean it will always be this way. If it helps you to daydream or sketch out trips you may take in Spring 2021, do it! Daydream, research, and loosely plan for activities you want to do or plan to do in the future.
Furthermore, do not forget that now is a great time to plan and execute little projects around your home to keep you engaged, active, and feeling like you are accomplishing something and making progress. Maybe you want to rearrange furniture, organize your space, or do those DIY projects you have always wanted to try. Whatever it may be, doing so will help keep your mind distracted from the world around you.
- If Needed, Tap into Crisis Hotlines
If you are in a crisis and feel as though you have no one to talk to, call a hotline. Below are some helpful hotlines to help you:
- Visit the Disaster Distress Helpline website or call 1-800-985-5990 and TTY 1-800-846-8517. You can also text TalkWithUs to 66746
- National Domestic Violence Hotline or call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224
- Suicide Prevention Hotline or call 1-800-273-8255
Importance of Early Intervention and Treatment
Even though you may feel alone during these troubling times, understand that everyone around you is experiencing the same thing. You are not alone. If you feel there is nothing that can help you, that is not true. While the above suggestions may help some, there are still other options available to help you manage your depression. Accelerated Resolution Therapy® (ART) has been successful in helping people suffering from depression and anxiety.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy® (ART) is an innovative, evidence-based therapy for both PTS and PTSD, anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health issues. Initially, the therapy was primarily used to help veterans suffering from PTSD. One of the major advantages is the speed at which ART is able to bring relief. Normally, only one to five sessions are needed, not months or years of expensive psychiatric treatment.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy works by reprogramming the traumatic memories that are preventing a person from enjoying the full life they deserve. The techniques work equally well on bullying victims, combat vets, and others.
There is always hope, even when you feel there is none. If you feel you cannot get through this on your own, contact ART International to learn more about ART or find a therapist near you.
ART International Training and Research Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing access to Accelerated Resolution Therapy® (ART) for individuals suffering from trauma and other mental health diagnoses through innovative research and clinician training and education.