It’s starting to feel like coronavirus is never-ending: it has affected all aspects of our lives and is all the news ever talks about. Coronavirus and COVID-19 are conditions that affect the physical body, but the precautions we all need to take to stay safe are starting to take their toll on people’s mental health as well as their physical wellbeing.
It can be tough work trying to avoid the negative psychological effects that can come with the self-isolation, working from home and social distancing that are crucial in stopping the spread of COVID-19. During this time, it’s more important than ever that we actively support our mental wellbeing.
It can take years, months or just a matter of days for a depressive episode to come to an end. From suicidal thoughts and attempts to ongoing lethargy, having no appetite to eating too much, being unable to sleep or being unable to get up in the morning, the symptoms of depression vary from person to person and are worth watching out for.
Managing Your Mental Wellbeing
Great emotional costs come from this social withdrawal. Even the activities you previously enjoyed will lose all appeal, and you feel constantly sad or burdened. Where individuals are quarantined at home with other family members, it’s not uncommon for the loved ones of someone going through a depressive episode to gradually run out of sympathy for their family member.
A ‘Catch 22’ can quickly form, where the depressed person’s sense of worthlessness is reinforced with exams being failed, pre-lockdown plans failing to come to fruition, friends ceasing to visit and promotions being narrowly missed. It’s an unfortunate equation that could get anyone feeling down.
The following suggestions may be helpful in allowing you to support your mental health at this time.
Be Kind to Yourself
Your mental health can really be influenced by how well you look after yourself, which is a problem when social distancing makes it so easy to slip into the habit of sleeping late, spending all day in your pyjamas and eating junk food. The way you feel can be improved even by carrying out simple tasks like washing your face, but even this can be a challenge sometimes.
Trying to stick to some sort of routine can make basic healthy decisions much easier. Spend as much time as possible in well-ventilated rooms and carry out basic self-care tasks like healthy eating, sleep and lots of hydration. To avoid stress, try to keep a well-supplied home. You’ll need to make plans to get those supplies if you’re self-isolating and unable to leave the house even to shop.
Ask someone you know who is still well to drop food off for you, or try booking a supermarket delivery. The amount of water you remember to drink, as well as your appetite, may change as a result of the impact being at home has on your routine. Make sure you’re looking after yourself properly – this will sometimes mean creating a whole new routine.
Make sure, when you create your new routine, that you aren’t trying to hold yourself to impossible standards of productivity. You’re already trying to deal with an international pandemic and the anxiety that comes with that – now is not the time to try and write that novel you’ve been planning.
Exercise if You’re Able
Your mood may be significantly boosted if you’re able to get moving, though this is easier said than done when you feel low or anxious. Your physical wellbeing and mental health will both benefit from any exercise you’re well enough to do. Boost your mood further by working out to your favourite music. Get daily doses of sunshine – if you have a garden, make the most of it!
From cardio workouts to flexibility and stretches, exercising at home can be easy as there are so many options for all different abilities and age groups. So long as you don’t come within two metres of anyone you don’t live with, you’re allowed to spend as much time in your garden as you like. If you don’t have a garden, take to the streets or the park. Under the current government regulations, you’re allowed to leave your house for one form of exercise each day, so get cycling, wheeling or walking.
Major depression lasts at least two weeks, and will be an issue almost all day, and almost every day. As a condition that can make you feel as though you have no choice but to postpone indefinitely many aspects of your life – your job, school, relationships – at the best of times, individuals living with Major Depression (one of the many conditions that falls under the bracket of “depression”) are likely to find the current situation particularly taxing.
If you or anyone you know has this condition, try to be extra aware of the depressive symptoms that may emerge.
Whether you do it by phone or online, setting up a “buddy group” with family or friends and regularly checking in with people is a good idea. This will make it easier to reach out to others if you begin feeling low, or to offer support to anyone struggling. During these difficult times, even just sending a daily update can help us all feel more connected and less alone.
Support should be sought if any of the following symptoms of depression become an issue:
- an inability to sit still, or an inability to carry out tasks at your usual speed
- reduced concentration or struggling to make decisions
- inappropriate and disproportionate guilt and feelings of worthlessness
- oversleeping or (more often) insomnia
- having less energy or feeling tired often and for seemingly no reason
- planning or attempting suicide, or thinking about death
- a change in appetite that results in weight loss or gain.
For more information about depression, check out Need2Know’s Essential Guide to Depression, which provides people with the information they need to make an informed decision as to whether they need to seek further help. Need2Know also have some great books about bipolar disorder, the terrible twos and anorexia. Whether you’re newly diagnosed, a concerned loved one or just interested in the subject, we have all the information you need!