Do you often find yourself constantly feeling down or lose interest in your hobbies ever since COVID takes the world by storm? If yes, you are not alone. Bueno-Notivol et al. found that the global prevalence of people getting depression is to be seven times higher than in 2017. Unsurprising, considering that we suddenly got thrown into a whirlwind of health-related chaos.
Mourning a loved one we lost due to the virus, job loss, fear of the virus could cause depression to slip in when we less expected it. Adjusting to our new-normal routine and spending our days and night confined at home could be difficult. Even as an introvert, I struggle when I found myself missing my friends and just wanting to talk to anyone. I could say the pandemic proves that the classic theory that humans are social creatures.
Depression symptoms range from persisting sadness, constantly feeling drained, having a hard time concentrating, to suicidal thoughts. These symptoms can be life-altering if we do not treat them. I understand that mental-health support might not be available due to lockdowns and mandatory stay-at-home rule. Without help, depression could become unbearable to the point it is tempting to cope in an unhealthy way, so before you do that, try these instead!
7 Activities that can Help You Cope
Meditation lowers your stress level and anxiety, the comorbid conditions that usually accompany depression. Meditation does that because it increases our memory and helps regulate emotions by increasing the brain's gray matter. Additionally, meditation helps you become aware of your thoughts and emotions, allowing you to assess them without judgment.
2. Hang Out with Your Friends Online
Give your favorite people a call! Talk about your favorite books, plants, movies, or games, and listen to your friend’s homely adventures. Perhaps you could arrange a workout or study date with your closest friends through video calls. Another idea is to try new multiplayer games together with some friends. Having some fun is a great way to de-stress!
3. Work Out
Jogging, yoga, or kickboxing, take your pick! The hippocampus, the brain part that regulates our mood, is smaller in people with depression. To fix this, we need to do an intense workout. An intense exercise is the most effective way to promote nerve cell regeneration while helping our brain release endorphins to make us feel better. However, low energy and the desire to do nothing often make it hard to start something for people with depression, let alone creating an intense workout. My suggestion is to start small. Start from walking around for a few minutes, and then increase the intensity little by little.
4. Spare Some Time to do Your Hobbies
Spending most of your time at home means you save travel time to and from work or school, allowing you to revisit the fun activities you do to de-stress. The point is to do anything that would make you feel good about yourself. For instance, pick up that book you have always wanted to read but never got the chance to. Host a karaoke session with your quarantine mates or do any other fun ideas you could think of – the possibility is endless!
5. Learn Something Fun
Learn a new language or a new skill by joining an online club can expand your networks and resume by the end of the pandemic. My favorite app to use is Duolingo, a free online website and downloadable phone app that is easy to use to learn languages and one that could keep track of your daily progress. If you are learning a new skill, I would suggest Udemy. The downloadable app teaches you the skills you needed and gives you certification for your hard work. Some courses have online communities that you could reach out if you have any troubles with the learning material. Some even continue to support your growth after you finished the course.
6. Write a Journal
Regular journaling helps you de-clutter your negative thoughts and process your emotions throughout the day. Journalling works to de-clutter your thought process because putting them on paper helps keep track of your moods and pinpoint your triggers. It also allows you to assess your feelings from a different point of view. Some common practice in journaling is to write down everything you went through the whole day and thank the things that helped you get through the day. Writing your gratitude can help you see the positives in a horrible situation and recognize that perhaps life is not as hellish as your mind makes it to be.
7. Online Support Group
A disclaimer: these groups are not a replacement for therapy, but talking to people in the same predicament would make whatever you are going through easier. Plus, these free online support groups are friendlier in the current economic climate for the general public. A support group like 7 Cups connects teenagers and adults who call with a volunteer listener. No worries if you do not feel like talking, they also have chat rooms that people can use to support each other. Another good group that lets you write a post about what you are going through is the Support Groups. Upon entering the site, you see other people sharing their stories that encourage a first-time user to write their story. Start by creating an account, and then you will have free access to their support groups and their mental health resources that you could utilize to help you cope.
COVID season is a tough one. However, like all things in life, remember that this too shall pass. Remember to treat yourself kindly during this time. If you or someone you know is mentally struggling and need someone to talk to, please call a 24-hour crisis center managed by Mental Health America at 1-800-273-8255 or SAMHSA Distress Helpline 1-800-985-5990.