It comes as no surprise that this pandemic could have a negative effect on people’s mental health. I certainly didn’t realize how normal it all felt to me until I saw this post and felt it hit a little too close to home:
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Look, this shit sucks, but also, this is kind of my Olympics? I’ve been preparing for this since high school. My anxiety about going outside and my depression that makes it impossible to do so have worked for years to train me for this. My quarantine muscles are exercised and ready to go. Turns out all that Tv binge watching and isolating I did in high school was actually productive for something, so take that Mom and Dad!
I’m accustomed to depressive isolation; I did it as recently as December 2019, so it was fresh in my mind. I always thought the timing was funny because I ended one depressive episode to just be launched into home isolation under a stay-at-home order. However, this pandemic seemed to hit right as I was feeling semi-normal again, so I’ve found myself struggling between staying virtually social with friends and reverting back to my isolating behaviors. Funnily enough, some of my friends have felt the same way. Here are some reminders and activities my friends and I find to be quite helpful these days.
1. Let go of the idea that you need to constantly be productive.
It’s okay to not do anything, but once you feel like you’re ready to get help or do something new, reach out to someone or do something that you know makes you feel happy. This can be a simple video call with friends or listening to your favorite album.
2. Make sure to eat regularly.
The less we eat, the less energy we have and the more likely we are to stay in bed and get lost in our heads. It happens! Try having at least one nutritious meal for the sake of keeping your energy up. One step is better than none at all.
3. Try getting some sleep.
I’ve had pretty bad insomnia for years. Something I’ve found useful during this time is taking melatonin when I’m struggling to sleep at night, or allowing myself to take a nap when I haven’t slept through the night. If you struggle with getting enough sleep and nothing seems to work, I highly recommend melatonin gummies.
4. Put together playlists with your favorite songs.
Music is healing. I personally have two quarantine playlists and several other daily playlists that I’ve put together for any mood I might be in. If you find music to be soothing or helpful in cheering you up, put together some playlists to help energize you. You might even stumble upon some old gems that you totally forgot about over the years.
5. Moderate the substances you consume.
Have one or two glasses of wine or eat an edible for a chill way to relax, but don’t overdo it. Alcohol is considered a depressant so while you might feel great in the moment, you’ll probably feel worse when the drunkenness starts to fade.
6. If you feel like you need to socialize, pick up your phone.
Reach out to friends, even if you don’t mention how you feel, just so you remain social with people who make you happy. I try to remind myself that it’s better to have friends to talk to than to sit in silence for hours at home. You could even play games with your friends online as something exciting to do.
If you have a psychotherapist and you want to talk to someone who can offer professional advice, consider reaching out. If you don’t have a psychotherapist but are interested in mental health services, this is a great time to become familiar with telehealth apps and sites like Talkspace or BetterHelp.
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7. Move around.
Whether it’s just stretching or a full hour of yoga, find ways to move your body. It doesn’t even need to be a full daily workout, it could be as simple as you moving from one room to the next. As long as you’re not sitting/laying in one spot for days at a time, it is progress.
8. Take your vitamins.
This is crucial for anyone staying home as often as we all are these days. A regular multivitamin is helpful for any daily routine, but be sure to get enough Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin D in your system for energy and mood regulation.
9. Get some sun and fresh air.
Sunshine often helps people feel better, and the Vitamin D is helpful with improving your mood and health in the long run. If you don’t want to go outside daily, at least find time once a week to go outside or walk to a park for some fresh air and sunshine.
10. Indulge in a creative outlet.
I find that painting helps me when I’m in one of my (what I like to call) “in-between moods” where I don’t quite feel happy or sad. I simply am, there’s no particular mood involved. Painting helps me get out of that strange headspace and release it creatively. I usually play some music and express how it makes me feel in the painting to make it an engaging experience for myself.