How To Manage Social Distancing Depression
When 2020 started, no one could anticipate what the year would bring. After almost a full year of social distancing, quarantining, isolation, and more, the toll has been documented on the mental health of both adults and teens.
A September mental health survey showed an increase in both suicidal thoughts and attempts, overall anxiety and depression, and other mental health issues in youth that was directly related to the pandemic.
“We know many people report experiencing symptoms of distress, including anxiety, sleep problems, depression, substance use, and suicidal thoughts at rates two to three times higher than we might expect in times before the pandemic.” - NIMH's director and a co-chair of the National Response group, Gordon.
If you or someone in your family is experiencing these symptoms, there are things you can do to help improve your mental health while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
As always, if you are experiencing an emergency, call for help immediately.
6 Tips to Cope With Depression While Social Distancing
Seek Accessible Treatment Options Through Telehealth Therapy
When you or your teenager is facing depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, professional therapy should be consulted if accessible. Depression and anxiety during the pandemic can seem overwhelming, and without external distractions the internal conflict can become larger.
Therapists at The Family Center offer Telehealth Sessions for those who are social distancing at home and unable to attend in-person sessions. Telehealth sessions help accommodate for social distancing requirements, odd work hours, family commitments, and other conflicts that may prevent in-person therapy.
If you are unsure about telehealth therapy, reach out to The Family Center to discuss the process and evaluate if it is the right decision for you and your family. It does not have to be a long term commitment, and receiving professional stability and support could be the key to getting a grasp on pandemic depression.
Use Therapy Techniques to Change the Tone of the Conversation
During the pandemic, it can be difficult to focus on anything besides the pandemic and the things we are missing out on. This can lead to many conversations being focused on loss, depression, sadness, and anxiety. However, mental health can be influenced by what we choose to focus on or our perception of circumstances. While a good attitude cannot treat depression, changing the tone of the conversation can help improve the overall mood.
Once a day, take stock of what you and your family are appreciative of and grateful for. This can be anything at all, from getting to sleep in to getting to watch your favorite show. Taking some time to have conversations centered on those aspects can help alleviate some of the depression and anxiety during social distancing. Make sure to balance your conversation to include the good things you have experienced, as well.
Maryland Therapists Recommend Partaking in Hobbies at Home
To combat depression during social distancing, be sure to partake in activities you enjoy. While many people miss activities that took them out of the house, there are still ways to partake in things you enjoy at home.
Borrow or purchase new books and make time for reading
Print out coloring pages and show off your artistic side
Get back to writing, whether it’s a journal or a fictional story
Create new ways to work out around your home
Set aside time to watch your favorite TV show
Try that new recipe you’ve always wanted to perfect
Practice a new language
By allowing yourself time to enjoy your favorite hobbies, you are giving yourself a chance to feel happy and give your mind a mental break from the other areas it may otherwise focus on. These activities can also give you something to look forward to each day, and as you accomplish new goals with your activities you will feel satisfied and proud of your journey.
In Addition to Therapy, Be Active and Eat Healthy
While telehealth therapy sessions are important to help manage your emotions, take perspective, and feel stable, your physical body being in good shape will also influence your mood.
Although the pandemic, and winter, has made chilling on the couch a new favorite hobby, keeping our bodies moving and in good shape helps boost our mood with proper blood flow and other elements. You and your teenager should schedule walks around the block, in-home workout sessions, time to dance, and more.
Remember to also cook healthy meals and regulate sugar intake. Comfort food has helped a lot of people remain stable through the pandemic but remember moderation is key. A good balance of a healthy diet with treats of comfort food will help your mood overall.
To Cope with Depression, Reduce Screen Time
It’s easy to get lost in screens while maintaining social distance and staying indoors. Whether it’s binging TV every night, scrolling endlessly on social media, or being absorbed in a phone or tablet, it’s not healthy to maintain hours sedentary with screens.
However works best for you and your family, limit the screen time of those coping with depression during the pandemic. Don’t watch more than a couple of hours of TV, don’t engage on social media all evening, and take a break from the tablet before bed.
FOMO (fear of missing out) was in effect before the pandemic, and while no one is afraid of missing out on anything - since no events are occurring - social media and excessive screen time can still make people feel they are losing out on social activities or connections. Instead, call a friend or family member, return to the old adage of writing letters, or mail a gift package with homemade goodies. There are other ways to connect and engage off of screens.
Reach Out to Family and Friends to Help with Depression
While it’s important to engage in telehealth therapy sessions to battle depression and anxiety during the pandemic, Maryland therapists also recommend getting a stable support system behind you created from family and friends. Schedule weekly calls with close friends and stay up to date with family, even if you cannot get together.
The pandemic has made coping with depression quite difficult, but with the right combination of professional therapy in Maryland, putting your hobbies and self-care first, and engaging with people you love you can help combat the worst side effects of mental health issues during this time.
Do not be afraid to seek out a Maryland therapist and discuss your issues to see if The Family Center is the right place for you. Call today.