The COVID-19 pandemic changed the world. Even as restrictions are being lifted, the residual effects of a global tragedy continue to haunt everyone. Although many people went through their own personal struggles, those living with mental illnesses had to wrestle with many negative symptoms as a result of change, sadness, and trauma.
Even so, the lessons the global pandemic left us with, particularly in relation to mental health, should not go unnoticed. Although the pandemic’s effects were devastating, stigmas associated with mental health began to lessen.
Now that mental health awareness is increasingly being addressed, more treatments are readily available to help more people. Using coping mechanisms, therapy, or prescription medication, those who were diagnosed with a mental illness during the pandemic or those who were already diagnosed are being seen and validated.
While all mental illnesses are important to acknowledge, depression is a diagnosis that must be continually monitored, pandemic or not. COVID-19 changed a lot of things, including the way we interact with others. When these connections were unavailable, it greatly damaged the wellbeing of those struggling with their diagnoses.
If you have been clinically diagnosed with depression, there are positive tools available to help you. Here are 5 coping mechanisms that can be used during the pandemic and beyond.
- Stay Healthy
Everyone’s experiences with depression are different, so it is normal for cases to vary from person to person. However, it is essential that you are doing basic, everyday things to keep you safe and nourished.
For example, while it can seem impossible, try your best to set a goal for yourself every single day. This could be something as simple as making the bed, because that may be all you have motivation for during a difficult time.
As time goes on, try to add on to these goals more and more until you find yourself in a healthier place. Make sure that you’re eating, drinking water, and moving your body for at least 30 minutes every day. Keep in mind that this does not have to mean going for a run. This could mean a slower-paced 30-minute yoga routine to relax your body and mind.
- Practice Mindfulness
While the true definition of mindfulness often entails a form of meditation, it is truly a collection of strategies that can look very different for every person. Meditation can be a form of mindfulness, but it may not be for you. For example, some people find yoga to be a more structured and physically active way to connect with their minds.
However, none of these may work for you, and that is completely okay. Find something that gives you joy, whether that means reading a book or going for a hike.
The point of mindfulness is to take a moment, find your breath, and live in the present moment. That can be found in a number of things, so if you practice mindfulness by dancing in the living room, do it.
- Stay Connected
Connection seems like such an odd term following a global pandemic, but it is essential for maintaining your mental health, especially if you struggle with depression.
It is still important to be aware of your surroundings and follow protocol if face
masks are required. However, if you are vaccinated, see if you feel comfortable
connecting with other people again.
Some support groups are meeting in person with mask requirements, but if you
are still uncomfortable with that, see if you feel safe meeting with an online
- Practice a Consistent Routine
Try your best to intentionally plan out your weeks. As previously mentioned, don’t look at this as a requirement, but as a guideline to keep you motivated on the task ahead. Depression can be exhausting, but if you have a consistent schedule that keeps you going, that is the most important thing.
Make your bed the moment you get up. Set aside some time to exercise, read, and/or meditate. Make sure that you aren’t skipping meals, but don’t beat yourself up if you happen to miss one part of your daily routine.
More than anything, a routine is there to keep you going, one day at a time.
- Get Some Sleep
Research has proven the benefits of good sleep hygiene. Even so, depression can often make you feel extremely fatigued, even if you have had a good night’s sleep.
With that being said, there are things that you can do that can help with this. If you go to bed at the same time every night, shut off all electronics, and turn off the lights in your room, your body will begin to prepare itself for sleep and feel more energized in the morning.
A consistent sleep routine can prevent your depression from getting worse, allowing you to feel more motivation, energy, and mental wellbeing.