Due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, most of the globe has been swept into their homes.
While we are sitting in our homes, we watch the news, which, of course, triggers more fear and anxiety.
Many of us are not working, and are home with our families, or alone, all the while trying to fight the inevitable feeling of isolation. Isolation is a breeding ground for depression, anxiety, or even both.
A 2017 review of 40 studies from 1950 to 2016 published in the journal Public Health, found a significant correlation between social isolation, loneliness and poorer mental health.
During this isolation period, those with pre-existing depression or anxiety may feel their symptoms worsening. Those who may not already struggle with these issues may start to feel symptoms develop.
Either way, isolation is the culprit of devastating mental problems.
Depression and anxiety, while similar, speak their own languages. Depression wraps around you like a heavy blanket and tells you everything, even the smallest things, are incredibly difficult.
Getting out of bed becomes difficult. Personal hygiene is neglected. Even eating becomes a chore. Emotions are too much to deal with, and everything just hurts.
Depression affects every part of you, including your physical health, and, at worst, can lead to suicide.
For most people, anxiety feels like a constant nervousness, restlessness at an impending sense of danger or panic. Your heart rate increases, you may have trouble breathing, and you may sweat continuously, have trouble sleeping, or even experience gastrointestinal (GI) problems.
Anxiety is even more common than depression; worldwide, approximately 284 million people suffer daily from anxiety.
When depression and anxiety intertwine with each other (which often happens), the result may feel like a battle you cannot win. While it may be tempting to isolate, even more, isolation (especially for someone in recovery), can be detrimental to your mental health and sobriety.
Here are some ways to combat isolation, especially if you are in recovery.
Keep a Schedule
Even if you are at home, it’s important to keep a schedule each day to “normalize” your routine.
In addition to scheduling tasks you have to do, schedule “social assignments,” and place as much importance on them as your “have-to” responsibilities.
I know this may seem strange at first, but a great practice is sitting down in the morning with a sheet of paper and a pen and writing out ways you will combat isolation.
Come up with at least three different times in your day where you will connect with someone else, either by phone or virtually.
Connect with Others
After scheduling time to connect with others, make sure you carry those appointments out.
For example, the following are meaningful ways to connect with others:
- Call someone on the phone
- Use Facetime or Zoom to video chat with someone
- Text or email someone (although talking in real-time is better!)
- Send a handwritten letter to someone
- Attend online recovery meetings
- Join a Facebook group about topics you are interested in
- Join and play multiplayer online games like Wordfeud
- Join online sports games like Fantasy Football
Get creative in ways you will connect with others. Just because you are confined inside your home doesn’t mean your mind should be.
Don’t forget that your physical health and mental health are intertwined. In fact, exercise has been proven to ease depression and anxiety.
It works by releasing endorphins and other brain chemicals that enhance your sense of well-being. Exercise can also take your mind off your stress and replace it with self-confidence.
Exercise a healthy way to cope with depression and anxiety, one that often goes overlooked.
There are many free workouts online that you can do from your own living room. You can also take a walk or run around your neighbourhood to fight isolation.
Getting outside (if allowed) is some of the best medicine out there, especially during a pandemic.
Do Something Meaningful
A loss of sense of meaning can contribute to feelings of isolation.
Maybe you aren’t working right now, and you feel like you have lost some of your purpose.
Maybe you feel bored, and you feel like you’re losing your sense of self. We all want to feel like we belong to something greater than ourselves, which is why isolation can be devasting.
However, incorporating meaningful activities into your day can restore your sense of purpose and identity.
You know what that something maybe, but if you need some ideas, consider the following:
- Sign up to be an online volunteer through the United Nations.
- See how you can help people in your community.
- Start a blog sharing your experiences that may help others.
- Sign up for an online class that you are interested in.
- Work on a home project you have been putting off.
- Create or listen to music.
- Practise gratitude daily.
If you find yourself falling into a downward spiral of depression and anxiety, first of all, know that you are not alone.
Isolation is a breeding ground for these conditions, and we are here to help.
Don’t hesitate to contact us today for a free, confidential chat with one of our highly trained professionals.