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8 Ways to Deal with Depression During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Coronavirus or COVID-19 is affecting people around the world, not only infecting and killing thousands of people, but has also resulted in schools and businesses closing, unemployment for many workers, and social distancing and quarantine in order to not get sick and prevent further spreading of the virus.

While it is important to stay inside, staying indoors by yourself for days at a time can be difficult if you are struggling with mental illness, including depression. Even if you or people you love are not directly affected by COVID-19, things like unemployment, loss of income and extreme isolation, having your kids with you indefinitely, can all be triggers for people struggling with mental illness. While you cannot control your situation, you can control how you deal with it. So, here are eight ways to deal with depression during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Keep getting support

If you are currently seeing a counsellor and they ask you if you would like to continue your sessions over the phone, say yes. While talking on the phone is not for everybody, in a stressful time like this where you may not be able to talk to people 24/7, continuing to get support over the phone can help you manage your stress better, feel a little less lonely and cope with your depression better.

2. Watch something funny

In horrifying times like this, it is easy to feel really down. Something that often helps is watching funny movies and TV shows as well as watching stand-up comedy specials. It has been shown that laughter not only decreases pain and boosts immunity, but also relieves stress, improves mood and eases anxiety. Everyone’s got a different sense of humour, but just some of my favourite things to watch include shows like Brooklyn 99, Nailed It and One Day at a Time, movies like Life of the Party and Get Smart, and comedy specials from comedians like Gabriel Iglesias, Ivan Decker, Aparna Nancherla, Fortune Feimster and Taylor Tomlinson.

3. Get organized

Without a job or classes to go to everyday, it is easy to feel lost, helpless and unmotivated during this pandemic. I know for myself, my routine was so backwards where I would stay up until 4am and wake up at two o’clock in the afternoon, it happens. So if this is something you’re currently experiencing, a great way to help your mental health and bring order to your life is to get organized. Whether you make a detailed schedule, create a list of things you want to do everyday or have a simple morning and night routine, just take little baby steps to improve your mental well-being.

4. Get some fresh air

Even though it is important to practice social distancing, sometimes some fresh air can be helpful when you’re struggling with depression. It has been shown that people who live closer to green space and get more fresh air are shown to have lower rates of depression, anxiety and poor physical health compared to those who live in more urban areas. While I’m not suggesting you spend a long time outside with a large group of people, getting a little fresh air by going for quick walks on quiet streets in the sunshine rather than staying inside all day will most likely lift your spirits.

5. Try doing things you enjoy

Although this is a stressful and terrifying time, it is also a time where you can learn more about yourself and what you enjoy. Sometimes in the fast-paced craziness of life, many people say, “Oh man, I wish I had more time to do _____.” Whatever that thing is that you enjoy or used to enjoy, now’s the time to take it up again. Whether you like playing the guitar, baking, painting, blogging, playing video games or learning new languages, take advantage of all this free time and give it another go. Feel like you don’t have any hobbies or interests? Why not start learning something new? With virtual classes, apps and thousands of videos on YouTube, you can almost learn anything you want.

6. Take breaks from the news

Despite the fact that the news can be helpful in keeping people informed, the constant news updates about coronavirus can be depressing. It has been shown that if a TV program creates a negative mood like the number of deaths resulting from the coronavirus on the news for example, these experiences will impact how you see, interpret and worry about events in your own life. So while it is important to know what’s going on, if you become down after watching or reading the news, maybe limit how much news content you’re consuming.

7. Reach out to friends and family

It is no secret that social isolation can result in extreme loneliness, a decline in physical health, anxiety and depression. In a time where people are forced to quarantine in their homes and practice social distancing from their friends and family, it is easy to become really lonely and depressed. So this is the time to reach out to friends, family and loved ones. If you are currently living with family or a significant other, try fun activities together like playing board games and having movie nights. If you are living alone though, use the technology you have to reach out to the people you are missing. Just some ideas include calling your mom, FaceTiming your grandma, having a Netflix party with your friends or playing games like Cards Against Humanity online with friends.

8. Make gratitude lists regularly

At times like these, it is easy to feel really down, helpless and out of control. Something that can really help with that though is making gratitude lists on a daily or weekly basis. It has been shown that gratitude lists can increase empathy, help you sleep better, increase your physical health, increase happiness and reduce depression. So while yes, things are hard right now and you may be out of work or struggling with your mental illness, writing a list of all the things you do have in your life like your health, safety and family can really help put things in perspective.

The bottom line

Overall, this is a really horrifying and scary time for everyone and with things like unemployment and social isolation, it is easy to feel down and depressed. With these eight tips though, it will be much easier to cope during this pandemic. While it is unclear how long this will go on for, take this time to discover who you are, what you like and who you want to be once this is all over. Like all things in life, this is temporary and will be over soon. Above all though, just be gentle with yourself because you’re doing the best you can.

As always, remember you are strong, you are worthy, and you are capable of amazing things.