Issues and Challenges

Dealing with Anxiety and Depression in the Age of Coronavirus

Emergence of COVID-19 as a global pandemic has affected life in almost all its facets. Modified work routines, closed educational institutions, social distancing, staying indoors, just to name a few factors, have caused a lot of unrest and anxiety among masses. Anxiety emerges from the fear of unknown, thus the uncertainty and novelty of this situation is becoming a triggering factor among a vast majority of people. Depression lurking in the shadows is coming to the forefront as people long for social connection, financial stability and freedom to move around like they had before. Here are a few tips and strategies to avoid depression and anxiety, and adapt to the current situation effectively to avoid depression and anxiety.

Experience Your Emotions
Running away, suppressing or consciously trying to turn a blind eye towards your negative emotions can be more damaging than helpful. For one’s mental health and well-being, staying in touch with your emotions is crucial. We tend to experience loneliness, hopelessness and sadness; feeling overwhelmed is completely natural as this is an uncertain situation but all of us are in it together. Let’s accept the challenge and help ourselves cope with it. Experience your emotions, listen to what they want to convey to you and let them go. For instance, if you are feeling sad and unproductive, your feelings might be signaling you to take care of yourself and indulge in activities that make you happy and productive. This can help you make the best of this grim situation.

Change Your Inner Mental Dialogue 
As David James Lee said, “Be mindful of your self-talk. It's a conversation with the universe.” Our thoughts and words have great power over us. We have a choice to either make or break our life. A little shift in how you say what you say transforms all of it. Rather than saying, ‘I am stuck and miserable’, you can say, ‘I am safe and close to my loved ones’. Rather than saying, ‘I can’t go anywhere’, you can say, ‘Finally I can look after myself and my home’. Do the things in this period that you always wanted to do but did not have ample time on your hands.

Stick to a Routine 
Anxiety is an inevitable part of uncertainty. Learning to live in a situation that you are inexperienced about is challenging. Routine and structure can bring in a lot of calmness in this condition. When ambiguity hits hard, you control what you can. Make a schedule that you follow every day. Get out of bed on time, take a bath, change your clothes and be ready to start a bright day. Make a daily to-do list to prioritize and break down tasks into manageable chunks. If you are working from home, try to use a working desk rather than working on a couch or bed; separate your home and work life by maintaining a work schedule. This will help you maintain a healthy work-life balance even when you are working from home.

Re-Occupy Yourself with a Long-Lost Hobby
Taking care of oneself is crucial to revitalizing your spirit and energy. You might have heard yourself say, ‘I would have loved to do that only if I had time’. Since, you have this time on hands, try to employ your mind in the activities you used to cherish before you started working full time or before you had kids. It could be anything like painting, baking, cooking, sewing, stitching, re-organizing your home, writing or reading. Giving yourself some time to reflect can help you become a better version of yourself.

Physical Distancing Instead of Social Distancing 
One of the leading factors in exacerbating anxiety and depression among people is social distancing. Not being able to socialize and being able to have a face-to-face conversation is quite frustrating. However, we can decide how we construe this reality. We need to keep physical distance from people but that does not stop us from connecting with the people we love. Connect with your loved ones through phone, video calls or sending them messages to beat loneliness by being there for each other. Now is the time to connect with old friends and relatives that you wanted to connect with for a long time.

One thing that might help you steer through this challenging period is ‘acceptance’; we need to accept that we have no control over some things and this is one of them. But practice control where we can, like taking all precautions and keeping ourselves and others safe. Try to focus on the parts — things that you can manage like your anxiety or depression and keep it in check. 

Avoid Following Corona Numbers Repeatedly 
Keeping an hourly check on the rising numbers of Coronavirus cases would not benefit you in anyway. All mental health forums have requested people to avoid following news and numbers related to Coronavirus. We are exposed to lot of invalid information through various media, thus, it is crucial to limit the news exposure time to twice a day. Having valid resources is very important. 

Physical activity has also been compromised as a side effect of lockdown. You are not able to leave your home but that does not confine you to the couch or bed. Try a stroll on the balcony, terrace, backyard or any open space. You can also try to walk in your street. Exercises such as a little stretching and crunches at home might help as well. Exercise is  found to be associated with the release of mood elevating chemicals in the body called endorphins. So, stay active. Stay happy.

Spend Quality Time with Your Family
While you might be feeling bored at home during the lockdown, you might utilize this time to strengthen the bond with your family. Take out some time every day to spend with your family in a creative way. Try an indoor game, watch old family photos, bake together, talk, and read to each other. Try to come out stronger at the end of this pandemic.

Give Each Other Space
Spending time with family is very important. However, remember that you should always take out ‘me time’ to do the activities you like in isolation. It will help keep the balance between your need for personal space and social connection.
Remember that we have been through challenges before and it is us and only us who can make our life choices. So, let’s adapt together and get through this. HH

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