Have you been feeling more depressed during quarantine? With all the uncertainty, social isolation and drastic changes to normal living, it’s no wonder floods of people are starting to seek out therapy to address an increase in depression. If you’re considering online counseling to help you get through this tough period, you’re certainly not alone.
Feelings of loneliness and depression are valid feelings during this intensely stressful time. Depression has several forms – or subtypes – of the disorder. If you have not experienced depression before, you’ve likely been impacted by what is called a “depressive reaction.” This type of depression occurs in response to a stressful life event. Loss of employment, financial insecurity, social separation, loss of a loved one and/or a pandemic could all qualify as that stressful trigger. A depressive reaction can be treated by counseling, either in person or online.
If you experienced depression before the pandemic, now is an excellent time to get started with online counseling, if you haven’t already. Let your provider know about your symptoms before the onset of COVID-19, and how they’ve been exacerbated since.
Regardless of the type of depression you are experiencing, here are four proven tips to help you manage any potential quarantine depression and loneliness.
1. Get moving
Staying physically active (even in a small space) should be a priority. The act of exercise boosts endorphins, and releases oxytocin in your brain which are two of the “happiness” chemicals in your body. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise every day and reap the benefits of feeling and looking better.
Despite the limitation of closed gyms and cancelled workout classes, we can still find ways to be active. Consider trying out some new at-home workouts, or driving to a less crowded part of town to maintain social distancing on your stroll. Many gyms offer virtual classes, and it’s easy to find apartment-friendly workout videos online.
2. Stay connected
Make an extra effort to keep up with the people in your life. Tackle that phone anxiety once a week and call a friend or family member. Schedule a video call night with your book club or take up writing letters. Maintaining strong relationships not only feels satisfying, but is important overall to mental health.
Quarantine loneliness may get the best of us at times as we self-isolate, but staying in regular contact with loved ones can help us to feel connected and valued. However, there is one caveat: social media usage does not count as staying in touch. Make sure your communications are personal conversations, rather than likes and comments on someone’s profile. You’re sure to find these conversations more meaningful than mindless scrolling, anyway.
3. Use this extra time to do something for you
With quarantine likely comes some extra free time. Whether you’ve cut out the commute to work or had all of your social events cancelled, your calendar probably looks a little more wide open than it was previously. Use this time to really indulge one of your passions or take up a new one. Always wanted to learn to play the guitar? Have a stack of books you’ve been meaning to read through? Wanting to binge every Oscar-nominated movie? If you’ve heard the buzzword “self-care” recently, this is what the buzz is about.
We used to all wish for more hours in the day; now, we have them. How can you combat quarantine depression by growing in an area of enjoyment? Finding satisfaction in activities is a sign that depression symptoms are decreasing. Sometimes we have to do it before we feel it.
Stick to a routine
This is a hard task, especially if you’re working from home and no one will know if you’re wearing pajamas all day. Develop and adhere to a routine that balances your day. Include getting ready in the morning, eating healthy and integrating some structured rest time (like meditating or journaling). Daily structure is one of the best ways to fortify your mental health, and it also makes everyday tasks easier when they become habits.
Make a schedule for yourself and keep it somewhere easily visible. The first few days you might need reminders in your phone or sticky notes around the house, but after a little while your new routine will feel natural. Take this opportunity to incorporate the above suggestions, like a workout every day at 5pm or a phone call to family after dinner.
Although exercise, connectedness, self-care and routine are crucial to managing depression and loneliness in these times, the best thing you can do for yourself is to seek counseling. With the accessibility and ease of online counseling, it’s easier than ever to find the help you need. Take care of yourself, and let your therapist help you along the way.
If you’re serious about getting help for your quarantine depression and loneliness, reach out to a mental health professional today. At Pyramid Online Counseling, our licensed psychiatrists are forever dedicated to your health and well-being. Schedule your first virtual session today, by visiting us online or calling (833) 525-3077 to get started.