The '4 R's' of Social Distancing Every Person With Depression Should Know
I am prone to feeling depressed. It’s been something I struggled with since I was around 18 years old and really haven’t been able to shake it off. As a result, I had to learn ways that would prevent me from diving into the gloom and dread of daily life with depression.
Now that the world is in a state of uncertainty and most of us are staying home due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) — the new-to-humans viral strain in the coronavirus family that affects the lungs and respiratory system — these are the moments when that sadness, fear, doubt and anxiety will creep in. Away from our daily routines and no longer in crowds of colleagues or the outside world, it is imperative we take steps to intentionally keep us from those feelings and thoughts that will just bring us down.
I am 32 years old now and am still learning, but what I do know and what works for me, I’ll share with you here.
Try to maintain the same sleep and rise schedule as before. It is tempting to indulge in this time and sleep in for hours, but for people with depression, that can be a slippery slope. When we are at our worst, many of us sleep for hours, with little desire to do anything. For us, staying in bed can be more harmful than helpful. The later I wake up, the more prone I am to feeling unproductive or feeling a sense of loss over lost time. So during this social distancing period, I have been waking up each morning about an hour after my regular wake up time, at most two hours later. It helps me feel more in control of my day and like my day won’t be wasted.
Get out of your pajamas as soon as possible. Brush your teeth, put your contacts in and shower. Taking a shower every morning before starting my day helped me immensely after the birth of my son. Those months at home were wonderful, but after a few days just staying in my pajamas all day, I began to feel really down and it was just hard. A quick shower and clean clothing to offset your day can make such a difference, even if you’re home all day in isolation.
Accomplish something each day, more specifically, something for yourself. What do you like to do? What brings you joy? Do a little bit of that every day during this social distancing, or at least try. Make a goal and work towards that goal. Read lots of books. Plant seeds and watch them grow. There is something therapeutic about gardening…try it! Start a 30-day exercise program and finish it, even if you miss days in between. Complete a puzzle (350, 500, 1000 pieces!) little by little each day. Paint… anything. Color in one of those therapeutic coloring books; color one page a day. There is anticipation and excitement in finishing a goal. Find what makes you feel that sense of achievement, and do that.
I work best in routine. Routines help people like me thrive. If you are good at starting and keeping a routine, are prone to depression, and are social distancing, start that new routine now. Knowing ourselves and our triggers is also crucial. Prevention is so important.
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Unsplash photo via Eugenia Maximova