The current COVID-19 pandemic has caused an increase in mental health challenges worldwide, due to a growing feeling of uncertainty, job losses, the loss of loved ones and physical isolation from friends and family which has taken a toll on many people.
Outlined here are ways to protect your mental health and prevent depression during these trying times.
- Focus on things that add meaning to your life, such as catching up with family and friends, learning a new skill or a new language, and picking up a former hobby. These activities can give you a break from negative thoughts and worries about the pandemic.
- Limit how often you check the news or social media. While it is good to be aware of happenings around the world, do not obsessively check the news media as this might intensify your fears and worries.
- Establish and maintain a daily routine. Set a time for exercise, eating, taking a walk or communicating with loved ones. Check things off at the end of the day and make a to-do list for the next day, so you can look forward to doing things that interest you. Create a set of targets for the week and the month, then set some longer-term goals.
- Get adequate sleep. Aim to sleep for at least eight hours every day. Poor sleeping habits can contribute to feelings of irritation and depression. It is easier to maintain your emotional balance when you are well-rested and have more energy to focus on the various areas of day-to-day life.
- Eat a healthy diet. Reduce your intake of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, refined carbs, and food that can generally affect your brain and mood. Eat more natural foods, including lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Reach out to people who want to help. The nature of depression makes it difficult to ask for help since there is a strong tendency to avoid people. However, staying connected to loved ones might make a positive difference. It is advisable to seek professional help when feeling depressed or suicidal.