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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How to Handle Pandemic Depression and Take Care of Yourself

How to Handle Pandemic Depression and Take Care of Yourself

Are you, or someone you know, struggling with pandemic depression? Do you often find yourself wondering if you’re the only one grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and how you can turn things around?

What you’re going through isn’t as uncommon as you might think[1]. According to a recent study published in JAMA Network Open, depression has been three times higher during this pandemic than it was previously [2].

Infographic: Pandemic Causes Spike in Anxiety & Depression

    The researchers also discovered that lower income groups had an increased risk of getting depressed compared with higher income groups.

    This puts more pressure on those who are already worried about, or dissatisfied with, their professional lives, a vicious cycle when we’re all trying to balance our personal and work lives with our mental health.

    The Slippery Slope That Is Depression

    Perhaps it started out with you feeling a bit more tired than usual. At some point, maybe you started to lose interest in things you used to enjoy. Perhaps you’re having trouble sleeping or, on the flip side, you’ve started sleeping more than you used to.

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    Depression can manifest in different ways[3]. People can also experience it differently during this pandemic. While some might feel overwhelmed and become increasingly anxious, some might think they’re handling things relatively well, only to find that they can’t focus on simple tasks.

    There is a whole range of physical, emotional, and mental changes when you’re experiencing pandemic depression. One crucial thing you must do is to pay attention to these changes and be ready to take action.

    What’s the Best Way to Deal With It?

    Regardless of the everyday pressure we need to deal with in our personal and work lives, we have to remember that human beings have needs that must be fulfilled in order to function. This means that you must identify and acknowledge what you must do in order to thrive—not just survive—in this pandemic[4].

    You might have heard of Abraham Maslow’s theory of human motivation and the pyramid of needs based on his work[5]. Maslow’s theory included “self-actualization,” or needs that help us achieve our full potential through personal growth.

    More recent research by psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman has redefined self-actualization as exploration, love, and purpose[6]. A good approach to adapting to the new abnormal is evaluating your life through the lens of these needs and ensuring that you can still satisfy them.

    A large part of the depression that people may experience in this pandemic comes from refusing to recognize that our needs have changed. The previous way we fulfilled our needs do not work during our current environment, so changes need to be made.

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    Our needs for exploration, love, and purpose remain urgent and paramount, but we need to address these in ways that take into account our current limitations.

    Here are some ways we can effectively tackle and meet our needs:

    Exploration

    We have a need to explore, learn, and understand the world. Exploration in this sense is driven not by fear and anxiety—such as the watching of regular news briefings on the pandemic—but by the thrill of discovery and curiosity about the novel, the challenging, and the unknown.

    While you might be restricted by staying mostly at home, depending on the COVID-19 guidelines in your state[7], you have a universe of information available for exploration through the internet.

    One such area is embarking on virtual experiences, which you can safely enjoy even while you’re restricted to being at home. Virtual tourism[8], though not a new concept, has truly taken off during this pandemic[9] because of people who want to travel but are trying to avoid contracting the virus.

    You can even sign up for interactive virtual experiences to explore hole-in-the wall locations, take virtual classes for many topics and hobbies—from cooking to arts and crafts—and even go shopping while taking a virtual tour. You can also interact with tour guides, teachers, and even other virtual explorers from the safety of your home.

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    Exercise is another avenue you can explore. Studies have shown that physical activities can help ward off depression[10]. You can sign up for online cardio, strength training, or yoga classes, depending on your preference.

    If you want to exercise outdoors and have access to places where you can maintain social distancing, you can also look into exercising in green spaces. These can include urban parks, nature reserves, and wilderness environments. Research has shown that spending time in such places has a positive effect on mental health[11].

    Love

    This second aspect of self-actualization can be manifested by expressing love. The first step, of course, is to express this love towards yourself. If you feel overwhelmed by pandemic depression or think that you already need help from a professional, one of the self-care acts that you can do is to look into online therapy and tele-psychology.

    Online therapy is said to have boomed during this pandemic[12], which means that doctors and administrators are now better at delivering care to patients. You can even check with your company if this is something that they can provide or facilitate.

    Next is bestowing love on other people. This means making a positive impact on the lives of others. You can express this love towards your existing relationships. Surprise your romantic partner with an unexpected date night, or perhaps you can host virtual parties for your friends to strengthen bonds.

    You can even volunteer to provide virtual companionship to lonely elder strangers. There are many avenues you can explore to express love, whether it’s through improving your current ones or making new connections.

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    Purpose

    The other critical aspect of self-actualization involves developing, refining, and pursuing your sense of meaning and purpose. In the context of the pandemic, it’s even more important to proactively seek a sense that you are contributing to something you’re passionate about that’s bigger than yourself, a personal mission of service that offers you fulfillment and contentment.

    Some people might find their sense of purpose in taking care of their family and friends, and that’s fine. You might decide to reach out to struggling colleagues, eventually bridging the gap between personal and work lives and forming deeper friendships along the way. You might even tap into your network to help those who’ve lost their jobs find a new one.

    Or maybe you could focus on improving your local community, such as encouraging others to stay at home during the pandemic through blogging about your fun at-home adventures.

    Whatever you choose to do, you should regularly evaluate how much it contributes to your sense of purpose. Revise your activities to help further develop that sense within yourself.

    Conclusion

    Dealing with pandemic depression means doing an honest evaluation of your activities and connections. Make sure your needs for exploration, love, and purpose are being met consistently. Taking action now—not later—will help you improve and maintain your mental health during these challenging times.

    More on Dealing With Depression

    Featured photo credit: Anastasiia Chepinska via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    More by this author

    Dr. Gleb Tsipursky

    Cognitive neuroscientist and behavioral economist; CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts; multiple best-selling author

    What Is Abstract Thinking And How To Develop It 8 Effective Ways To Make Hard Decisions Easier 8 Daily Habits To Develop Emotional Intelligence How to Cope with COVID Anxiety And Stress How to Handle Pandemic Depression and Take Care of Yourself

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    How to Practice Positive Meditation in 2 Simple Steps

    How to Practice Positive Meditation in 2 Simple Steps

    Just by simply spending some effort and time, staying positive every day can be easily achieved. All that is required is a fraction of your time, 10-15 minutes a day to cultivate the positive you!

    But first, what is really positive thinking? Do you have to be in an upbeat, cheerful and enthusiastic mood all day to be positive minded?

    No. Positive thinking simply means the absence of negative thoughts and emotions – in other words, inner peace!

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    When you are truly at peace within yourself, you are naturally thinking positively. You don’t have to fight off negative thoughts, or search desperately for more positive thoughts. It just happens on its own. And here are 2 positive thinking meditation tips to empower you:

    1. Relax as You Meditate

    A powerful, simple yet rarely used technique is meditation. Meditation doesn’t have to take the form of static body posture. It can be as simple as sitting in a comfortable chair listening to soothing music. Or performing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises.

    Meditation is all about letting go of stressful or worrisome thoughts. That’s it! If you spend just a few minutes per day feeling relaxed and peaceful, you automatically shift your mind into a more positive place. When you FEEL more relaxed, you naturally THINK more positively!

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    Start with a short period of time, like 5 or 10 minutes a day. You can meditate first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, right before you go to bed at night, or any time. The most important thing is to consciously let go of unproductive thoughts and feelings. Just let them go for those few minutes, and you may decide not to pick them back up again at all!

    2. Practice Daily Affirmations

    Positive affirmations can be used throughout the day anywhere and at anytime you need them, the more you use them the easier positive thoughts will take over negative ones and you will see benefits happening in your life.

    What are affirmations? Affirmations are statements that are used in a positive present tense language. For example, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better, better and better” is a popular affirmation used by the late Norman Vincent Peale.

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    So how does one go about using positive affirmations in everyday life? Let’s look at some guidelines to follow when reciting your daily affirmations.

    1. Use first person pronouns in your message (I)
    2. Use present tense (I have)
    3. Use positive messages (I am happy)
    4. Repeat your affirmations on a consistent basis

    Affirmations have to be said with conviction and consistency. Start your day by saying your affirmations out loud. It wouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to repeat your affirmations; yet when done consistently, these positive affirmations will seep into the subconscious mind to cultivate the new positive you.

    Here’s an example of a “success affirmation” you can use on a daily basis:

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    I am successful in everything I do. Every venture I get into returns wealth to me. I am constantly productive. I always perform to the full potential I have and have respect for my abilities.
    My work is always given positive recognition. I augment my income constantly. I always have adequate money for everything I require. I spend my money prudently always. My work is always rewarded.

    You can find more examples here: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life

    Remember, affirmations work on the basis of conviction and consistency. Do yourself a favor and make a commitment to see this through.

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    Begin practicing these positive thinking tips right now. And I wish you continued empowerment and growth on your positive thinking journey.

    More About Positive Thinking

    Featured photo credit: Jacob Townsend via unsplash.com

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