Feeling depressed or anxious with everything that’s been happening lately? I feel ya! Here’s how to combat depression during COVID-19.
Hi, I’m Chantal. I am a mom and personal trainer who has struggled with depression since the age of 12. Like you, I am learning to navigate the big changes that have happened since COVID-19 in the United States.
Naturally, I have to start by saying that I am not a doctor or psychologist. You should take my advice at your own risk.
Truth be told, I am on the big, yellow strugglebus right now.
Many of you know that I have long history of depression, and it’s even part of why I became a personal trainer.
Related Reading: 10 Natural Ways to Combat Postpartum Depression
But even with many coping strategies and lessons learned, I have been feeling my depression and anxiety rear their ugly heads in the last few days.
At this point, I’ve let myself have a few miserable, angry, weepy, and bedridden days.
But I realized that this may just be the beginning, and for my children’s sake, I needed to pick myself up.
I NEEDED to figure out how to combat depression during COVID-19 – and quick.
And my hope is that I have.
I think it’s okay to validate your feelings and honor them with a few “off” days, but I feel that it’s my responsibility to draw the line.
When I’m depressed, I’m angry at everyone and feel a lot of resentment and guilt.
I don’t eat well and exercise less, and that results in more feelings of guilt, hopelessness, and fatigue.
If you’ve followed me at all, you know that I believe in self-awareness when it comes to triggers and cycles of health (of all kinds).
And, while I believe that it’s hard to stop your own destructive cycles in their tracks, I believe that we all have the power to draw the line.
As I’ve said before, we are able to choose how much our mental health issues define us. Self-awareness is the first step on so many journeys.
It’s not something that I really want to debate right now, but I have found that giving too much power to our illnesses snowballs their power into something more.
If I hadn’t learned to curb my own emotions and use my energy in a different way, I’d never be anything but a sad, lonely mama.
I’ve learned to re-channel my energy by recognizing my own patterns and weaknesses.
But it wasn’t without a bit of therapy, a few years trying different medications, and learning to harness the power of exercise. That’s a story for another day though!
Let’s dig into how to combat depression during COVID-19 (and anxiety, too)!
How To Combat Depression During COVID-19
I know myself well enough to know that if I’m starting to be weepy, mean, or laying around a lot, I’m headed for a depressive state.
In Oregon, which was one of the first states to have “shut down” and enforce social-distancing measures, we have been staying home for weeks now.
Related Reading: How To Exercise With Kids At Home
While I was already a bit of a homebody, I already miss simple things like going out to eat or perusing Target. Luckily, I have found some new ways to cope and have decided to prioritize the following things.
These are my best “how to combat depression during COVID-19” tips.
1. Try to emulate your “normal schedule” as far as wake time.
If you are responsible for setting the tone for an entire household like I am, this is extremely important. If you’re serious about figuring out how to stay positive during all of this, trying to wake up at the same time daily is important.
I find that the later I wake up and the less structure there is, the less accomplished I feel the entire day. This results in a mental and emotional heaviness that spills into everything else. It’s going to make you drag your feet and feel less clarity if you stop getting up at a reasonable and consistent time.
Related Reading: How to Be A Successful Stay at Home Mom
I’m not saying you have to get up at 5 AM daily if you did before, but continuing to get up early (no later than 7) and doing it every week day is going to help you make a much-needed mental switch for your whole family.
2. Continue to get dressed and ready.
It’s easy to lay around in your pajamas all day if you’re not going anywhere. But just like getting up at a reasonable time, getting dressed and grooming yourself will help your confidence and self-esteem in a small but powerful way.
Continue to get dressed, even if you are in jeans and a t-shirt. Put make up on if you want. It will help you feel human! Continue to have some sort of normal routine and it will also help you when it’s time to go back to work/school/etc.
3. Make exercise a priority.
I know, it’s so hard to stay motivated in this strange and uncertain time. But there are ways to kick your workout motivation into gear when it gets tough.
If you’re familiar with the relationship between anxiety, depression, (and many other mental health problems) and exercise, you already understand this. Exercise can be a powerful weapon against depression because it gives you endorphins or “feel-good” hormones.
Related Reading: 10 Things to Try When You’re Losing Workout Motivation
These hormones help with mental clarity, overall feelings of accomplishment, concentration, and of course, physical health.
4. Stock up on vitamins and other healthy goods.
Doing something that is good for your body makes you feel accomplished and boosts your self-esteem. Something as simple as taking vitamins or drinking herbal tea can make you feel good and boost your immunities.
These sound like trivial little rituals, but there’s a mental and emotional effect that occurs when you’re actively caring for yourself. Don’t doubt the power of the little things!
5. Don’t throw eating/nutrition goals out the window.
While I’d encourage everyone to stock up on shelf-stable goods, it’s easy to eat unhealthy during these times. Obviously that can have adverse health effects (like weight gain), but it can also impact your self-esteem.
Then, of course, the more vitamins and minerals the better when you’re trying to equip yourself to potentially fight the virus.
Related Reading: 15 Healthier Food Choices To Make When Grocery Shopping
6. Get outdoors daily.
I know that many public recreation areas are closed to the public right now. That’s okay! You can go for a walk or do something as simple as sitting outside in the sun for a few minutes daily.
I have even read that some evidence suggests that COVID-19 patients low in Vitamin D are more likely to get super-sick compared to those who have good Vitamin D levels.
7. Create a new routine that’s flexible but do-able.
If you have a family, this will be more important. Kids need structure in my opinion, even if it’s loose!
But like with many of my tips on how to combat depression during COVID-19, this will also help you mentally.
Since we have just started to homeschool and started so abruptly, a schedule has proven necessary. (Click to read our favorite homeschooling resources for kindergarten so far.)
We have adopted a loose schedule that allows me to work around my toddler, blogging, and potentially anything else. I am lucky to be a SAHM, but I do still have a household upkeep and blogging to do daily!
8. Take self-care seriously.
If you weren’t doing it before, you definitely should now! Self-care is key to your sanity and self-worth. See my list of easy self-care ideas for moms and more. You should be doing those “little things” that keep you grounded daily now.
So paint your nails, take a bath, call your mama, or whatever else you need to do to find comfort.
9. Stay in touch with friends and family.
Am I the only one who has been writing and sending more “snail-mail” than ever? I hope not!
I am not a huge phone talker, but I do love to write! This is a great time to check in with long-lost cousins, that distant uncle, your grandparents, and old friends.
It sounds sad, but you never know what’s going to happen, so be sure to touch bases with everyone. It will make you feel better at the end of the day.
10. Give yourself grace.
I have come to terms with the fact that 2-3 days of each week are “crap days.” They’re just a scratch. Just terrible. LOL!
In our house, we can only maintain a positive outlook with perfectly productive days for a handful of them before we have a bad one. I think that it’s normal and if we accept it, we don’t have to feel bad about it.
It’s okay to let the kids watch a little extra TV and order takeout on these days.
Remember that everyone is going through something similar. It’s okay! Remember that!
I hope this helps someone out there navigate these strange times.
It can be especially scary if you’re living with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues.
If you have any other tips on how to combat depression during COVID-19, please tell me by leaving a comment below!