If loneliness, worry, economic instability, and the daily bombardment of bad news caused by the coronavirus epidemic are taking a heavy toll on your mood, you’re not alone. Nearly half of U.S. respondents to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey believed the pandemic was negatively impacting their mental health, and this sentiment is shared globally. The stress of social isolation, the fear about employment, money, and health, and the intense sentiments of loss that many of us are currently experiencing can cause depression for the first time or intensify symptoms for those who are already afflicted.
When afflicted with depression, life might appear unbearably dismal and hopeless. It can impair your ability to think clearly, deplete your energy, and make it challenging to get through the day. Even when certain governments and areas continue to loosen prohibitions on staying at home, it seems doubtful that life will return to normal very soon. But regardless of the limits you are now facing, these tactics can help you combat loneliness, relieve negative thoughts, enhance your mood, and manage depressive symptoms.
How COVID-19 Affects Depression
This is a troublesome and unpredictable period. Even as some locations begin to reopen after months of closure, the end may still feel far. You may have lost your work, been experiencing financial difficulties, and been concerned about whether or not the economy will improve. You may be grieving the death of loved ones or the life you knew prior to the epidemic, or you may feel dissatisfied and alienated due to continuing social isolation. Living in the age of coronavirus might profoundly affect one’s disposition.
- Depression is fueled by loneliness and isolation. Individuals are social creatures. Being cut off from the affection, support, and personal touch of family and friends can cause or exacerbate depression. Months of social isolation and hunkering down at home might leave you feeling alone and isolated, leaving you to confront your problems on your own.
- A dysfunctional relationship may be more detrimental than alone. Despite the fact that solid and supportive relationships are essential for mental health, being forced to spend months in a dysfunctional, unpleasant, or violent relationship can be more detrimental to your mental health than being alone.
- Anxiety can contribute to depression. Given the dread and ambiguity around COVID-19, it is reasonable to feel anxious. However, when your concerns spin out of control, they can lead to worry and anxiety. Since anxiety and depression are considered to come from the same biological predisposition, they frequently coexist.
- Stress levels are increasing. Life-altering events, such as the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the diagnosis of a serious disease, or financial or marital problems, can cause excessive amounts of stress. As a result of this epidemic, you may be simultaneously exposed to many of these primary stressors, making you more susceptible to depression.
- We are resorting to harmful coping mechanisms. The monotony, isolation, and stress of being in lockdown, struggling financially, or juggling a job and homeschooling children can lead to harmful coping mechanisms. You may be drinking excessively, misusing substances, or devouring junk food in an effort to self-medicate your mood and manage stress. While these approaches may give temporary relief, they will significantly exacerbate your depressive symptoms in the long term. You may instead utilize the following healthy techniques to improve your mood and alleviate your sadness.
Change Your Focus
Recovery from depression is not simple, and it might be difficult to find the energy and enthusiasm to take the initial step. However, you have more influence than you may know on your mood.
- It’s true that these are difficult and anxious times, and few people have many reasons to be optimistic right now. Nonetheless, sadness may make things appear worse than they actually are. Everything is viewed through a prism of negativity while sad. By merely acknowledging this, you may begin to shift your perspective and take the first step toward feeling more positive.
- Divert your attention. When you are miserable, unemployed, and isolated from your social network, the negative ideas that flow through your mind may seem endless. But you may stop the pattern by concentrating on something that gives your life meaning and purpose. Perhaps you’ve always desired to learn something, such as a new language or musical instrument. Or maybe you’ve always desired to write a novel, cook, or cultivate your own veggies. Focusing on a project or objective, even a tiny one, may provide a welcome escape from negative thoughts and anxieties, and give your days purpose.
- Find basic sources of happiness. You cannot force yourself to have fun, but you can force yourself to engage in activities that will improve your mood throughout the day. Try listening to uplifting music (and, if possible, dancing) or finding a reason to laugh by viewing humorous videos on YouTube or episodes of your favorite comedy. Even when you’re by alone, walking in the park, paddling on the beach, or going on a trip in the woods may relieve tension and put a smile on your face. Or, try playing with your children or a pet; they will get the same benefits as you.
- Reduce your news consumption. Yes, you want to be informed, but excessive consumption of sensationalistic news or untrustworthy social media coverage will only exacerbate your pessimism and dread. Limit the frequency with which you check the news or social media, and stick to credible sources.
- Maintain a routine. Depression is exacerbated by sleeping too much or too little, missing meals or exercise, and ignoring personal hygiene. In contrast, establishing and keeping a daily routine provides structure to your day, even if you are unemployed and living alone. Try to schedule time each day for exercising, spending time outside, and interacting with friends.
- Express thankfulness. It might appear that everything in life is dismal and hopeless while sad, especially at this terrible time. Even on the worst days, it is typically possible to find something for which to be grateful, such as the beauty of a sunset or a friend’s phone call. It may sound corny, but expressing appreciation may give relief from bad thoughts and significantly improve your attitude.
Find New Ways To Engage With Others
Meeting friends and relatives in person is still challenging for many of us, but it doesn’t mean you have to accept feeling alone and alienated. Even if nothing equals the mood-boosting impact of face-to-face contact, speaking through video link, phone, or text can make you feel more connected. Reach out to close friends and family, use this occasion to reconnect with old pals, and organize online gatherings with groups. Even though your depression symptoms make you want to isolate yourself, it is essential that you maintain frequent touch with others.
How To Really CONNECT With Other People
- Whether communicating with a friend or loved one over the phone, through video, or at a social distance, it is crucial to go beyond a superficial connection. The stronger your relationship, the greater your mutual benefits.
- Move beyond casual conversation. To truly build a relationship that can alleviate your loneliness and melancholy, you must take a chance and be vulnerable. Small chats and superficial connections with others might actually increase feelings of isolation.
- Describe yourself. Share what you’re experiencing and the emotions you’re feeling. It will not make you a burden on the other individual. Instead, your friend or loved one will likely be thrilled that you trust them enough to confide in them, and this will strengthen your relationship.
- Nothing needs “repair.” Depression is alleviated through establishing a relationship and being heard. The person you are speaking with does not need to provide answers; they simply need to listen to you without judging or condemning. Likewise, when you’re listening to them, the same is true.
Adopt Healthy Daily Habits
Your everyday behaviors might play a huge part in helping you to overcome depression. During this health crisis, it is tempting to fall into poor habits, especially if you are unable to work and are forced to stay at home. You may sleep erratically, overeat to ease stress and boredom, or imbibe excessively to fill the lonely evenings. By adopting a healthy daily routine, however, you can improve your mood, feel more invigorated, and alleviate depressive symptoms.
Get moving. When sad, exercise is one of the last things you want to do, but it is also one of the most effective strategies to improve your mood. In reality, regular exercise can be just as helpful as antidepressant medication in reducing symptoms of depression. Even if you are still under a lockdown or a stay-at-home order, there are inventive methods to include physical activity into your daily schedule.
Practice relaxing methods. Including a relaxation method such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, or a breathing exercise in your daily routine can give a welcome respite from the loop of negative thinking and alleviate tension and anxiety.
Eat a mood-boosting diet. During times of stress, we frequently consume “comfort foods” high in harmful fats, sugar, and refined carbohydrates. But these meals, along with excessive amounts of coffee and alcohol, can have a negative effect on your mood. Instead, wherever feasible, prioritize fresh, nutritious meals and increase your consumption of mood-boosting nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids.
Sleep soundly. Similar to how depression may affect sleep quality, poor sleep can also lead to depression. When you’re well-rested, it’s simpler to maintain emotional equilibrium and you have more energy and concentration to combat your other depressive symptoms. Changing your daytime routines and nighttime rituals might help you sleep better at night.
Utilize reminders to stay on track. When sad, it is easy to overlook the tiny actions that might assist improve your attitude and mood. Keep reminders of the effective strategies on your phone or on post-it notes throughout your home.
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