We've all been there: sitting at work wishing we could just go home. Now, many of us are being forced to sit at home, wishing we could just go to work—or go anywhere at all. Much of the world is under stay-at-home and quarantine orders with no end in sight in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. For some, staying at home has been a blessing; they are learning new hobbies, getting things done, and increasing their productivity. For many others, however, staying at home is a curse.
Being forced to stay inside can make you feel like an animal trapped in a cage. However, being forced to stay home is far from the only thing that's weighing heavily on our shoulders. After all, we are living in the midst of a global pandemic; during such a scary, uncertain, and isolating time, living with intense depression and anxiety has become the new norm for many.
We’ve included several tips to help you cope and improve your mental well-being during COVID-19.
Signs of Depression and Anxiety
Sometimes putting your feelings into words can be difficult. You may be experiencing fear, frustration, confusion, emotional fatigue, sadness, irritability, numbness, as well as a number of other negative feelings.
Some common symptoms of depression and anxiety include:
Losing sleep due to stress or worry
Experiencing an increased or decreased appetite
Self-medicating by drinking alcohol or using drugs
Feeling like just getting out of bed is a chore
Unexplained crying spells
Lack of focus and concentration
Racing and/or unwanted thoughts
If you’re currently being asked to stay home without a specific time-frame regarding how long, you may be experiencing one, if not all of these feelings.
How to Cope with Depression from Coronavirus
1. Establish a New Routine
As human beings, we crave normalcy and routine. And let’s face it: Change is scary and even a simple deviation from our daily habits can leave us floundering.
Whether home is your new workplace, school for you or your kids, or just your current (and only) hangout spot, creating routines to suit your new “normal” are key to maintaining your sanity. Some tips to help you develop a new routine are:
Setting your alarm for the same time everyday
Getting dressed and putting on shoes (no pj’s!)
Creating a workout/cooking routine
Set specific hours for work or school.
Try to stick with your new routine as much as possible to help generate more calming feelings.
2. Avoid the News
Avoiding stressful news stories can seem impossible between social media and breaking news notifications. While staying informed is important, being too informed is a very real affliction. Additionally, many news stories are sensationalized, and, in the case of news found on social media, often falsified. Try to limit the time you spend reading up on or watching the news.
Instead, focus more on finding fun or interesting topics. This is where all those cat videos really shine. Getting lost watching funny animal videos, silly commercials, or your favorite sitcoms are just a few things you can look up to take your mind off your daily stresses.
3. Limit Time on Social Media
Stressful news isn't the only reason to avoid social media. People are coping with the challenges of quarantine in different ways, and many seem to flourishing. Seeing other people doing better than ever when you feel like you can barely get out of bed can often exacerbate your negative feelings. Remember that someone else's journey is not yours, and everyone processes change and stress in different ways, and social media does not tell you the whole story. Log out of social media, and do not compare yourself to those who seem to be taking this global pandemic in stride.
4. Focus on what you can control
Some people deal with stress by ingesting endless articles and news stories to feel more in-control of an otherwise out of control situation. If you're one of these people, you may have rolled your eyes at the two previous tips. However, although you may feel more in control while you're reading or watching, the long-term effect of over-consuming news is increased anxiety. Ultimately, you cannot contol what is going on in the world right now, no matter how many articles you read. The only thing you can control is yourself and your actions.
Rather than constantly reading up on the latest happenings, let go of the things you have no control over and focus on the things you can control. Here are some of the things you can focus on:
Being alone for extended periods of time can take a toll on your mental well-being. The need for companionship or intellectual stimulation can be met in many ways:
Texting, calling, FaceTime-ing, or emailing friends and family
Having FaceTime happy hours and dinners
Phone apps such as Houseparty allow you to play games with friends and family over FaceTime, and apps like Rave that let you watch you watch Netflix simultaneously with friends and family in a chatroom.
Get creative! Continuous communication can leave you feeling less isolated and help give you a sense of community.
6. Seek Professional Help & Resources (Remotely)
Talking to a professional is another time to sort through and deal with your emotions in a healthy way. We live in a time where we do not have to go into a therapist's office to talk to a therapist. Thanks to technology, you can easily talk to a therapist from the comfort of your own home.
There are phone apps and websites that allow you to talk to therapists remotely over text. You can also find online therapists and educational information by visiting the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (aada.org).
7. Do Something You Have Been Putting Off
Think about things you’ve wanted to accomplish, both for yourself or around the house. Wanted to organize your closet but never had the time? Or learn more about meal-prepping/bullet journaling? Well, good news! You now have plenty of time to tackle any to-dos on your list. The feeling of completeing a task will give you a sense of accomplishment!
8. Learn A New Hobby
Keep your mind and sharp by learning something new. Always wanted to improve your drawing skills? Learn to knit? Tackle speed reading? With the internet at our fingertips, you have all the tutorials you need to master a new skill. If you need a little inspiration, read our list of 20 hobbies to learn at home.
9. Spend Time Outside (If Possible)
Vitamin D acquired through sunlight is a great way to stay healthy and improve your mood. There are several ways you can do this:
Do a little gardening or some yard work, go for a walk
Simply do some little sunning
Go for a walk or job
If you live in an area where this is not allowed or it is not possible to maintain proper social distancing procedures, simply opening your window to get some fresh air may be a good idea.
10. Take Time to Relax
Have a TV series or movie you’ve been dying to watch? A jigsaw puzzle you’ve wanted to start? Do it! Taking the time to enjoy yourself is all part of letting your body and brain relax.
If you need more help, or are having thoughts of self harm or suicide, please immediately reach out to friends and family, and/or one of the hotlines below:
The Samaritans - (877) 870-4673 (HOPE) : Call or text for help at any time
Enter the Growth Zone
There's no doubt about it: COVID-19 is taking a toll on us, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is a scary time, and many of us are overcome with fear. However, it is still within our power to decide who we want to be and how we want to handle what is happening in the world right now. Remember: we are dealing with this pandemic together, and it could be going on for a long time. Ask yourself: how am I treating others during this time? How am I treating myself? Follow the tips above, and actively work towards entering the "growth zone" of COVID-19.
To Sum Up…
You're not alone. Feelings of anxiety, depression, frustration, and helplessness are completely common when facing a situation wrought with uncertainty. Just know that you’re doing your part, and you should feel proud of yourself.
Have any tips or advice to add? Let us know in the comments section below!