Coping with a mental illness is trying even in the best of times, let alone during a worldwide pandemic. But you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone – at least 1/3 of Americans are learning how to cope with symptoms of depression right now. And since “the best way out is always through,” this might be the right time to learn about coping strategies that may help you manage depression symptoms.
Depression is more than a prolonged sense of sadness – it’s a pervasive feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. Is it any wonder so many of us are experiencing the classic symptoms of depression during this pandemic? Fortunately, mental health experts have been chiming in with coping strategies that are useful for dealing with depression during a quarantine, including the following:
1. Use Mental Health Services
Whether you have been formally diagnosed with clinical depression or not, reaching out to mental health services when you are experiencing depression symptoms is always a smart idea. National hotlines are accessible to the public for free, and many local mental health services are taking new clients through telehealth services, even clients who might not have insurance. Talk therapy will help you sort your feelings and vent your thoughts.
2. Be Kind to Yourself
It’s important to give yourself permission to feel sad or frustrated or scared about your new circumstances. Extend kindness to yourself and forgive yourself for being less than perfect. You are limited right now, but you will not be limited forever.
3. Stay Social
Humans are social creatures, so of course, we all need to find ways to be social. Social media can be immensely helpful in this arena, even if it’s something as simple as messaging family. You can also take advantage of existing apps, like Facetime or other video calling technology, to have virtual face-to-face interactions.
4. Create Structure
Structure in your daily routine can ground you to the present and give you small goals to reach that act as positive reinforcement. During a period of quarantine or self-isolation, it’s very easy to feel that you are accomplishing nothing. But if you maintain a schedule of waking, eating, daily chores, and working from home, you can be productive and feel better about the things you can have control over.
5. Limit News Intake
While it’s important to stay in the loop about what’s happening in your area, it’s important to limit the news, so you aren’t constantly bogged down by negative forecasts. If you watch the news, limit yourself to one program; if you follow news online, limit yourself to one source a day.
It’s time to take a page out of Robert Frost’s book and learn that the “best way out is always through.” In other words, integrating any of these coping strategies will help you deal with depression during a pandemic. From being kind to yourself to creating a structure with a daily routine, to finding new ways to be social, there are several things you can do to manage depression symptoms, even during the quarantine.