Throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, many people have found themselves struggling with their mental health at a more intense level. Perhaps seeing or hearing of so many alarming headlines sent your depression further into a hole. Maybe near-empty grocery store shelves triggered hopeless feelings. “Will things ever just calm down enough so I can cope with my life” you may ask. Or maybe you’ve been dealing with symptoms of depression on a daily basis. While reflecting on everything this year that could have been but hasn’t been, just makes your depressive feelings only worse.
If you’ve felt distressed for months now, all hope is not lost. You can begin to process these difficult emotions and rebuild your life. There is relief for overwhelming distress.
The following tips will help you deal with those amplified symptoms of depression.
Keep in Touch With Your Loved Ones
Spending time with the people you love often helps those who are dealing with depression feel less alone. But during this pandemic, many of us may have been completely cut off from our loved ones.
Even if you still can’t see them in person, it’s important to keep in touch. Whether it’s a weekly video chat with a trusted friend or regular phone calls with a caring parent—any form of communication can help. If you live in a safe region and you are low-risk for COVID-19, you may even be able to meet up with healthy friends in person for a little while. Although not all friends or family are supportive or helpful, focus on the ones who are and reach out.
Control Your Media Diet
From headlines that might as well say the world is ending to news broadcasts constantly updating the number of COVID cases around the world, you may feel very overwhelmed by the media right now.
Of course, it’s important to stay informed on developments in your area. However, get the basics then limit your “media diet” to keep life in perspective. For the next month, make a commitment to consuming relevant, local news only. It’s possible your head will feel much clearer and your emotions less stressed!
Move Your Body
Exercise is known to release endorphins, which may help ease your symptoms of depression. Even if you cannot go back to the gym yet, you can still exercise at home! For example, you may want to pick up brisk walking, jogging, follow along with virtual yoga classes, or lift weights in your garage. If you exercise regularly, you will likely experience some relief from your symptoms. And the rest of your body will thank you too. Movement is key. Add a few extra steps to your day.
Plan Excursions Close to Home
Your feelings of depression may be amplified in part because you feel like you have nothing to look forward to. Your trips have been canceled, large family gatherings are off-limits, and you’ve said goodbye to many major social events for the time being.
Why not try planning safe excursions close to home so that you know you have something fun in your future? A day trip to a small town, a short camping trip, a beach weekend, or even a day of hiking can lift your mood. Being outdoors has a lot of health benefits too.
Talk to a Therapist
Finally, you may want to talk to a therapist about your depression. The right therapist can help you make sense of what you’re feeling and process your emotions in a healthy way.
The pandemic has not put a stop to therapy. However, you may currently only feel comfortable meeting with a therapist virtually. We have therapists here at Pathways Counseling Services who are offering online (telehealth) services. This allows you to chat with a therapist from the comfort of your home on your laptop or smartphone! Then again, we still offer the traditional in person therapy with precautions.
Remember, therapists have spoken to many people dealing with the same issues as you over the past few months, so they understand the situation. There is no shame in opening up about your feelings. Further, many of our clients have found relief in the process.
Have you been struggling with symptoms of depression throughout this pandemic? Whether you were officially “diagnosed” before the pandemic began or you’ve just begun to experience depression, perhaps confusion or hopeless has interfered with your healing. The right therapist can help guide you through the process.