Coping With Depression During A Pandemic
Social distancing is recommended by the CDC, and this may trigger depressive episodes for many people.
Due to self-isolation and limitations in daily activities, people who suffer from depression may be at risk for an increase in depressive symptoms including feelings of sadness or hopelessness, changes in sleep, appetite, concentration, activities of daily living, and thoughts of suicide.
How to Cope With Depression
First, I would like to tell everyone who is reading the article that you are not alone in this. Acknowledge how you are feeling. You may feel sad, lonely, bored, worried, or restless. This is okay.
This is a globally traumatic event. Most people in the world are also experiencing drastic changes in their schedules, their finances, limitations on what they can do and who they can see, and a collective feeling of unease caused by not knowing what will happen next.
Second, I want you to know that there are ways you can cope right now.
Create a schedule for yourself.
Think of all the things you normally do on a given day. Try to incorporate some of those things back into your schedule while you are at home. We are creatures of habit, and we need structure. Start small with your basic needs such as sleeping and eating. Wake up at a similar time each morning and go to sleep at a similar time each night. Schedule times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then start scheduling daily activities. If you don’t like to keep a schedule, think of it as a daily to-do list that you check off at the end of every day.
Find what brings you joy, and do it.
Think about all the times you’ve said to yourself, “I wish I had more time for…” Well, which one of those things would you like to give time to? Is it painting, drawing, listening to music, learning dance routines, solving puzzles, painting your nails, playing board games, writing, reading, or cooking? This list can go on and on! Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that brings you joy.
Social distancing does not mean complete social isolation.
Distance yourself physically from others. Continue to keep in touch with your friends and family virtually via phone calls, webcam, texting, etc. You can also add this to your to-do list!
Move your body!
Learn a dance. Go on a walk. Do yoga, pilates or weight training! So many studies have shown that exercising helps reduce symptoms of depression. Some of you may be disheartened by gyms closing. Luckily, you can find plenty of free workout classes online on YouTube and apps on your phone.. Look up your local studios and see if they’re offering live streams of their classes!
Give yourself a break!
No you do not have to use this time to lose weight, work on a side hustle, or learn to play a new instrument. Productivity is not a marker of your self-worth. Remember to practice self-compassion, and allow yourself to rest.
Talk to a professional
There is so much more to coping with depression during a pandemic than I can write in one article. If you’re struggling to cope with this pandemic, reach out to a counselor. Most of us are offering online therapy to continue to support our communities.
Sanna Khoja, M.Ed., LPC is a therapist in Houston, TX. She specializes in anxiety-based issues including social anxiety, PTSD, and OCD. Sanna enjoys working with young adults who struggle with perfectionism, life transitions, identity, and self-esteem. Catch her posts every week on Instagram and Facebook where she leads conversations on holistic transformation of the mind, body, and soul. #TuesdaysWithSanna