As I sit here writing this blog post I can’t help but feel a little down. These times are tough for everyone. Disappointment is all around us, fear of the unknown, financial struggles, concerns about our children and school, isolation as we try to be socially responsible, and anxiety over the potential of getting sick. For those struggling with depression—new or chronic—COVID-19 has compounded symptoms and made treatment feel more out of reach.
The good news is online therapy is available and many insurance companies have made changes to their plans to include coverage for online services, making treatment more easily accessible. But even so, we could all use some tips on how to manage depression during these unprecedented and extremely trying times.
Let Yourself Grieve
It’s ok to be sad. It is ok to be upset that schools are closed or events are canceled. It is normal to be disappointed that your favorite store had to shut down or you can’t enjoy your favorite summer festival. Don’t try to minimize your feelings. Instead, let yourself feel them. Allow yourself space to process and move towards acceptance.
Don’t Let Isolation Take Over
You might be physically isolated from social situations right now but you don’t have to give in to complete isolation. Find other ways to connect, even if it is a chat with your neighbor through the fence. Phone calls and video conferencing are both helpful tools to keep you feeling connected. Human contact is crucial to everyone’s mental health and can help depression sufferers tremendously.
Lean On Your Support Network
Identify friends, family members, or counseling professionals you can turn to in times of vulnerability. Everyone should have a person they trust who will be understanding and empathetic to their feelings.
Limit Media Consumption
Being stuck at home and bored can cause us to spend more time scrolling social media or watching news shows. Try to limit the amount of time spent absorbing this information. There is a lot out there and it can feel overwhelming and difficult to process. Pay attention to how you feel when you are on these networks—if it isn’t good, then cut yourself off.
Maintain A Routine
Routine and structure are important to your mental wellbeing. With all the changes in our day-to-day, it can be tempting to sleep-in each morning, skip the shower and stay in our sweats. Establishing some kind of healthy balance and structure can help to keep your depressive symptoms in check—even if that means having one pair of yoga pants for relaxing and another for working.
A loss in structure often results in letting go of healthy habits like exercise, sleep, and eating healthy foods. Having a daily exercise routine and a healthy eating plan can keep you feeling your best and help with emotional regulation. Not to mention, getting that heart rate up can help you to burn off some steam and release stress.
Do Things Even If You Don’t Want To
Depression often leaves you feeling fatigued and unmotivated but by forcing yourself to do things even if you don’t want to, your mood can benefit. For example, you don’t have the energy to take the dog on a walk but you set an alarm and make yourself do it when it goes off, in turn, you might notice an improvement in your mood and have more motivation to do other things.
Fresh air and Vitamin D are so important for our bodies and minds. Consider moving your home office to the back porch for part of the day, or add a morning walk to your routine. If you are feeling overwhelmed or claustrophobic getting outside can relieve those feelings.
Seek or Continue Treatment
It can be easy to let normal routines go (including that weekly counseling appointment) when schedules are unraveled and we are forced into isolation. But, seeking help from a licensed mental health professional can offer a lot of benefits. And, if you were already receiving some kind of counseling services it is important to continue treatment.
Searching For Online Counseling In Pennsylvania?
Counselors at CW Psychological Services are professionally-trained and licensed. We have openings for online, or telehealth, therapy appointments. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at (610) 308-7575. You don’t have to manage depression on your own. We are here for you.