The ripple effects of COVID-19 are impacting us all, and this is a difficult time for everyone right now. For those who suffer from anxiety and depression, or any mental illness, it is so important to pay equal attention to staying healthy emotionally as much as it is physically. Managing depression when routines are interrupted and we are more isolated takes some effort. Here are some ideas that may be new, or may be reminders of old ones that have been forgotten.
Our 2 cents worth to manage a depression (or any other) rut
What’s on your “if only I had enough time, I’d…….list?”
We all have one and some of us have very long ones. Everything from cleaning the garage, spring cleaning closets and draws, painting a room, or weeding the garden. By now a lot of us have realized that having time isn’t the only reason these things didn’t get done. Most of them aren’t a ton of fun and time seems endless right now so we put them off. It may seem harmless to procrastinate with them but if you’re prone to depression, its a slippery slope and here’s why:
- Motion creates motion; no motion creates no motion. In other words, doing something gives you energy to do more. Not doing anything makes it even harder to get moving later.
- Getting things done boosts confidence. It gives us a “lift” and actually helps us gain clarity. One of the toughest things in managing depression or a rut is the feeling overwhelm and brain fog. Stay busy and keep a sense of purpose. You’ll feel much better for it.
- As long as the stay at home order seems to be in effect, when it’s over you’ll either look back and feel good about turning into a productive venture or you’ll beat yourself up for letting the time slip by. You have a choice which it will be but you have to make the decision today.
You don’t have to kill yourself trying to crush your “to-do” list, but try and spend an hour or so every day doing something that you don’t usually have time to. Managing depression requires us to stay engaged with the world and not just ‘check-out’.
Think positive and have gratitude to combat gloominess
Change your perspective on current events
There’s a lot of bad news on TV, radio, and social media right now. It’s easy to sucked into all of the fear and negativity. However, it is possible to take everything seriously, be responsible yet still have a positive attitude and combat gloominess. Try not to fixate on what’s wrong in the world, what you can’t do, or can’t have right now. Manage the blues by finding what’s right, what you can do and do have, right now. Instead of focusing on the inconveniences, appreciate the down-time, a chance to regroup, stop and smell the roses that you were too busy rushing around to before. Thinking positive thoughts and feeling grateful actually triggers chemicals in the brain that willl lighten your mood.
Beat the blues with a gratitude list
You can’t feel gratitude and depression at the same time
Feeling gratitude Is synonymous with feeling happy. Happiness and depression cannot exist in the same space. Make a list of 20 things you are grateful for, or for fun, make an A-Z list with something for every letter in the alphabet. After you finish the list, circle 5 things and stop and truly feel the gratitude. Its sometimes easy to ramble off an “intellectual’ list of things to be grateful for, but gratitude is not a thought, it is a feeling, and it is an action. Feel the appreciation and then act on it. Tell the people you love how much they mean to you, do something nice for someone who you are grateful to. Do it wholly unsolicited and expect nothing in return. Just express your gratitude. You’ll feel amazing after.
Shake the blah’s by bumping up your self care routine
One of the first things that go out the window for people with depression is self-care. Now is a time you need yourself the most, please do not abandon you. Everyone has their own definition of self-care and beyond just good hygiene, it’s a good measure to stay present with the “self” and create the vital feeling of being nurtured and loved, by the one who you most, YOU!
There are so many things you can do. Give yourself a facial, do a body scrub, deep condition your hair, paint your finger and/or toe nails. Light some candles and take a bubble bath. Drench yourself in moisturizer , lord knows we’re all washing our hands 15 times a day an truly need it!
Get dressed already! Pajama days are great; I love them too! Try and limit them to no more than 1-in-a-row. It’s easy to fall into a funk when you’re not having to suit-up and show up for work or you can’t even leave the house and interact with people. Do your best to show up and play the part., even if that part seems smaller right now. You don’t have to put on a professional outfit, but don’t live in jammies or sweats until the crisis ends.
Fight the funk by keeping your mind active, learn something new!
Make a list of 10 things you’ve wondered about. The pyramids in Egypt; the life span of birds; how to make bread; how to change a tire; the lives of famous musicians/actors. Whatever it is that sparks your curiosity, take one at a time and really learn about it. Read articles, listen to podcasts, maybe find a documentary. Spending hours online with mindless interaction on social media typically won’t leave you feeling fulfilled, Learning will. When we learn, we grow, and staying in a forward-thinking and growth mindset helps to fight the funk that comes with too much downtime.
Listen to or read something that inspires you.
There’s not a whole lot of uplifting news in the mainstream right now. It’s a good time to seek it out actively. There’s a plethora of inspirational talks on YouTube. A simple search term “inspirational” will get it done. I personally love audio books, and here are my two faves right now:
- Time Warrior by Steve Chandler In this book Chandler gives 100 strategies to change your perspective of time, time management, and quite honestly, life in general. Every chapter offers a deep thought to ponder.
- You are a Badass by Jen Sincero I love Jen Sincero’s sense of humor and had many well needed laughs listening to her. Not only is she funny but there are about 27 great suggestions for anyone looking to level-up in life.
Either of these books are bound to leave you feeling inspired? If you’re ready to take inspiration to the next level, make a vision board. Psychologists agree that vision boards improve motivation, and motivation is not compatible with depression. Your board will help you remember your “why,” and that will enhance your sense of purpose.
Managing Depression alone is rough
Don’t got it alone, break the isolation
Sometimes easier said than done but is super important to stay tethered and connected to the world. Pick up the phone and call friends or family members. Better yet, SKYPE or use Zoom. Check in on your colleagues, chances are they’d be thrilled to connect with someone too. Too much time in ones own head can spiral downward, so it’s essential to keep a strong support network. Be honest with trusted others about how you feel. No one is expected to have their “happy-face” on all the time right now. Don’t be afraid to express yourself, good or bad.
Reach out to someone who may be in need. Nothing beats the blues and lifts the spirits more and gives one a sense of purpose than helping another. Whether it’s an elderly neighbor who needs you to run to the grocery store, a friend who is in relationship hell or another person who is just stressed out from the news, be the light of their day. Offer yourself to help or be a shoulder to lean on. Let it be all about them; your turn can come later if need be. Getting outside of the self will beat the blah’s and boost your mood, leaving you feeling fulfilled.
Total wellness = healthy body, mind and soul
Its easy to get into some funky eating habits when we’re stuck inside, and the produce department at the grocery store is suddenly barren. It seems so acceptable to give in to cravings because the truth is life is just a bit challenging right now and comfort food can take the edge off. Just be mindful of what you’re putting in your body and try to make healthy choices. Sugar spikes wreak havoc on one’s mood and leave people feeling sluggish and down. Too much alcohol will not fix anything, and the hangover and dehydration are such downers. Couple that with feelings of guilt and shame many people experience after such escapades, and it can be a real slippery slope.
Try and drink more water and less caffeinated beverages, sodas, alcohol, or even too much juice. Hydration is vital to all of your body functions, to even mild dehydration contributes to emotional problems (WebMD). Caffeine is a diuretic, and sugar/alcohol screws with hydration levels too.
If you fall short of your health ideals (or any other), don’t beat yourself up, just accept it and try again tomorrow. Feeling bad about yourself isn’t going to help anything and makes it even harder to make healthy choices, just let that $#!+ go and move on. You’ll be better for it.
Add Turmeric Curcumin to your arsenal of natural remedies
There are so many health benefits of turmeric curcumin. In addition to being great in the kitchen, research shows that turmeric curcumin helps with inflammations, arthritis, skin, weight loss and influences many biological mechanisms linked to depression. There’s also evidence has positive behavioral effects for those who suffer from chronic stress. With so many positive benefits, and no side effects, its turmeric curcumin is a great add to your daily supplements. Make sure to use one with bioperine for maximum absorption and the best results.
Get some Exercise
Even if you’re in full-blown quarantine, outdoors is still open. If you’re not suffering from illness, you can at least go for a walk. Find a place you can appreciate natural beauty or admire some cool architecture.
There is overwhelming evidence that moderate exercise has a positive effect in fighting depressions. If you can’t leave home, spend a few minutes stretching. Stretching releases both physical and emotional tensions. Try
Science proves that the physical and emotional value of mediation is profound. For many meditations is a spiritual practice. If you aren’t the spiritual type, you still benefit dramatically from practicing mindfulness. Staying “grounded” through mindfulness will preserve your inner peace and sense of security. If you are new to the idea, here is a simple and practical strategy to get started: A Beginners Guide to Meditation for Wellness.
Final thoughts to banish heaviness of heart
Lastly, be gentle with yourself. Some days are going to be better than others. Be quick to celebrate the wins and forgive the less than perfect days. That same rule applies to others. Find other people doing something right and praise them for it. The world was a broken place long before COVID-19 and is indeed vibrating much more fear and negativity right now. Every one of us could all use some more love. It starts with you! Love yourself, love others, and please stay well!