Tips for Beating Depression & Anxiety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s a strange time in this world. And honestly, it’s starting to freak me out a little.

Depression and anxiety thrive in times of chaos and disarray. People are hoarding essentials like toilet paper, paper towels, bread, meat – even Cap’n Crunch.

Much of the U.S. has been either asked or ordered to stay home to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Here in Michigan, we’ve been stuck inside for weeks, with at least another few weeks to go – which means a lot of Netflix! But there comes a point where creating an imprint of your butt on the couch and staring at the boob tube gets mind-numbing.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with a little mind-numbing once in a while, as long as it’s not harmful to yourself or anyone else.

But this is so different than anything we’ve seen before. I know a lot of us are going stir-crazy right now, and it’s all taking a toll on everyone’s mental health. But if you already have a mood disorder like depression or anxiety, it may be getting even worse.

Here are some suggestions to keep yourself distracted and safe while we wait for the coronavirus to be contained:

  1. Do a puzzle. Many of us have used this idea during previous times of stress or overwhelm, so we already have them on hand. My roommate and I just started our second puzzle of the stay-at-home order, and we have several more lined up. Good thing puzzles are addictive!
  2. Do a crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or word search. You don’t even necessarily have to stay locked up inside to do these. If it’s nice outside, sit on your deck – hell, sit on the grass and do it!
  3. Get outside! This is a big one for our mental health. There are several things you can do outside that don’t require any interaction with others. You can:
    Do yoga
    Brush up on your birdwatching
    Walk around the block. Then do it again.
    Barbecue dinner for the fam
    Have a picnic on your lawn J
    Mow the lawn!
    Plant some flowers or vegetables
  4. Play cards. If you live with family or roommates, you can play lots of games. If you’re sequestered and alone, you have less options (Solitaire, anyone?). If you can’t think of anything to play yourself, you can pick up your smart phone and never run out of games. Bonus points if you sit outside and play them!
  5. There’s no better time to try that new hobby you’ve been wanting to do. Whether it’s crocheting, knitting, food or family photography, playing the guitar, dancing, jazzercise (yes, it’s still around!), writing, or whatever, why not start now? If you need lessons, go to YouTube 🙂
  6. Read for pleasure! Many people say they don’t have time to read or they feel like it’s a frivolous activity. So I’m giving you permission to read more. If it makes you fall asleep, read out loud to yourself. (It’s even more fun if you do it with an accent!)
  7. Do your taxes. Yes, the IRS has given us until July 15th to file, but why wait? Don’t forget to check online to see if your state has extended its deadline, too. (Okay, I suppose this one might not exactly be relaxing or fun, but you’ll be ahead of the game and can eliminate that worry. Plus, being productive feels good!)
  8. Organize, organize, organize! Closets, garages, and sheds, oh my! You know you could be better organized. Now’s the time to work on it and help make your life run more smoothly.
  9. Text your family and friends. Normally, we hear about how spending too much time on your phone or computer isn’t good for you. Back and neck problems, carpal tunnel, eye strain, and stiffness can all set in if we do too much of it. But they also keep us connected to our loved ones. I’ve been texting quite a bit with my brothers and mom lately. It keeps us all updated, provides comfort, and in the age of “social distancing” (better called “social separation”, if you ask me), it helps me feel less isolated. Give it a try.
  10. Update your resume. Many of us have been affected by layoffs and furloughs, and we don’t know when this virus shit is going to stop. One thing is sure in my mind: I think a lot of companies will go on a hiring streak once this is all over. Why not be prepared?
  11. Pick up an arts & craft project. The possibilities are endless with this one! Do you have a half-finished afghan you haven’t worked on in two years? Time to pick it up and finish it. Always wanted to try your hand at model airplanes? Go ahead! The best thing about arts and craft projects is that they are limited only by your imagination. Check out Etsy for some ideas.

I want all of my fellow Warriors to be safe during this pandemic. So remember to wash your hands, keep your distance from others, wear a mask when in public, and please – don’t go out unless it’s absolutely necessary. The sooner we all do our part, the sooner this thing will be under control.

As always, Keep it Real, Warrior!

Previously Published on The Depression Warrior