4 Tips For Managing and Fighting Depression during COVID
Everyone responds to stressful and scary situations differently. Some people may find themselves feeling bored, confused, or scared. Others may be dealing with anxiety or others still may be feeling overwhelmed and depressed.
If you’re struggling with depression, you are not alone. The COVID pandemic can cause feelings of sadness and hopelessness and it’s normal and okay. And, there are several proactive ways to help mediate these feelings and stay positive during difficult times.
Some symptoms that you may be experiencing during COVID include:
- Worry about the health and safety of yourself, your family, and your loved ones
- Disrupted sleep or changes in eating habits and patterns
- Difficulty concentrating, falling asleep, or staying asleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue
- Worsening of chronic health issues and illnesses
- Increased use of alcohol or tobacco
- Feelings of hopelessness
If those symptoms apply to you, you may be experiencing COVID related depression. If this is the case, My LA Therapy has some tips and tricks for how to cope with depression and manage your feelings during this difficult time.
Connect With People
Depression often leads people to cut themselves off from others and to isolate themselves. Unfortunately, with the shelter in place recommendations and restrictions on interactions with the outside world at the moment, this makes it even more common for people to behave this way.
However, cutting yourself off from those around you can actually lead to even deeper feelings of depression. Human interaction is one of six emotional needs that are important for your health and it should never be overlooked or neglected.
Just because it’s important to remain in the home does not mean that you cannot maintain healthy and meaningful relationships with the people that matter in your life. Try Facetime, Google Hangouts, or Skype as options for seeing and being with family members and friends who you are not able to be around.
Additionally, taking the time to play board games or simply share a cup of coffee with your roommates or those you live with is another great way to keep up human interaction during self-quarantine.
Another option is working with a mental health professional through telehealth services. You can either text, call, or video chat with a licensed healthcare provider who can help talk you through your feelings and provide support and connection during this difficult time.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Another common symptom of depression is deterioration of healthy eating habits. You may find yourself reaching for junk food or simply not eating at all.
Foods that contain large amounts of simple sugars or are overly packed with carbohydrates can lead to sluggishness, heaviness, and feelings of fatigue. Those feelings can in turn lead to a more depressed mood and “crashes” once the sugars are processed by your body.
Instead, try eating foods that contain less refined sugar or white flour to help stabilize blood sugar levels and improve alertness.
Additionally, eating four to six small meals spread out throughout the course of the day rather than several large meals can also help stabilize your blood sugar and give your body more energy to face the day and keep your spirits up.
A few foods to try to incorporate into your diet include:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables. While it may be tempting to reach for the potato chips or to quickly whip up an instant meal, keeping fresh foods in your diet ensure that you receive the proper nutrients and vitamins that your body needs.
- Eggs and lean meats. Eggs and lean meats provide your body with protein and iron without the additional fats that your body doesn’t need.
- Fish and seafood. Fish and seafood such as salmon contain iodine and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which many people are deficient in and which are needed to help your body function optimally.
It’s a long studied fact that exercise releases endorphins and helps boost your mood. However, when you are feeling depressed it can be difficult to motivate yourself or to find the energy to incorporate a workout into your day.
However, it’s extremely important to incorporate exercise into your day; when you do so, feel-good hormones like dopamine are released and get to work boosting your mood and improving your mindset.
And, you don’t need to workout excessively! A 30 minute walk or a few short stretches in the home can be enough to boost your mood and help you stay positive.
At Home Workouts
There are plenty of youtube videos and apps that you can use to get exercise throughout the day, but you can also try some simple at home workouts!
For instance, as you watch TV try lying on your back and doing bicycles with your legs. Or, play a music video and plank for the duration of the video.
Short and simple exercises like these can help bring some movement and activity into your day and boost your mood without added effort or having to leave the house!
Set a Routine
With all the changes that come with facing COVID, it may seem like your life is topsy turvy and has no structure to it.
However, there are still little ways that you can set yourself a routine and create patterns which help with depressed mood!
For example, do you love your morning cup of coffee at the office? Keep that as part of your day! Brew a cup once you wake up and take the time to savor it. Don’t lose little rituals or activities that you enjoy; instead, find new ways to incorporate them into your new schedule.
Creating a set time to go to sleep and wake up can also help keep your day structured and give you grounding during the day. Setting up to-do’s for the day or coming up with a daily schedule to follow can also help you remain focused and positive.
You Can Do This
Don’t let depression take over your mood and your mind. Even during difficult times, there are people here to support you. At My LA Therapy we are standing by to help you combat feelings of depression or sadness associated with COVID. Give us a call and we’ll work with you to set up a remote counseling session to help your health.
Brooke Sprowl, LCSW is the clinical director and founder of My LA Therapy. She is passionate about working with and writing or speaking about purpose and personal transformation, radical responsibility and the reflection principle, anxiety, authentic spirituality, and relationship issues with couples and singles such as codependency.