Sunday Usende Johnson, a medical doctor in search of collective happiness, productivity coach and a healthcare delivery expert has shared eleven ways to combat depression or sadness.
Depression is the persistent feeling of sadness. It can occur in adulthood and also in childhood. Very few times in history has humanity had to deal with a global disruption of this magnitude, transecting all ramifications of human existence. With nations shutting down, big economies hitting its lowest, human interaction compulsorily made virtual, life is not the same.
Oftentimes, when disruption of this sort occurs that affects the daily human living, its immediate effects — such as the closing of schools and places of worship, work limited to essential services — overshadow certain more serious dangers. One of such has to do with how humans adjust to change and how they mentally cope with stress and anxiety.
Of a truth, mental stress spares no one. The president of a country has to worry about the lives of citizens being lost in scores to the novel virus and how to salvage the nation’s economy that is fast taking a downward spiral.
Employers are stressed about how to keep their businesses afloat while employees have to worry about pay cuts, downsizing, and those who are lucky to retain their jobs have to adjust to working from home.
Since schools are shut down, some parents are facing mental duress trying to quickly get used to computerized remote learning for their wards.
People have to deal with a whole lot of change happening in the same period. This has lead to psychological stress and, in severe cases, have caused a mental breakdown.
Different people react to stress differently. In the pre-COVID-19 era, many persons who handled stress well understood how their minds worked and had developed a tailor-made coping mechanism to avoid or soak in the mental pressure.
For some, going to work was their way of escaping a troublesome partner. Others engaged in several social activities in a bid strike a balance after working for extended periods of time. Some took vacations for recreation. Parents sent their kids to school to reduce the burden on tendering for them at home.
Unfortunately, the advent of this pandemic has disrupted these coping mechanisms and caused us to search for other ways to strike a balance.
Also, we now have to deal with inactivity, boredom because of lockdown and isolation.
Many have fallen victim to depression due to their inability to cope with the coronavirus pandemic induced psychological stress, which begs the question; What is the way out?
Here are some ways to prevent depression in this season.
Accept this as a transient reality affecting humankind.
Just like the Spanish Flu that wreaked untold havoc on the world but eventually ended, this too will pass. Stop being perplexed about whether things will return to normal again. They will, eventually, but it will surely take some time.
When you make peace with your soul and get past this point, then you are well on your way of taking full control of your destiny no matter the aftermath of the pandemic.
I remember how I had planned to write a major career exam started blaming myself for not writing it earlier, and then I thought of the thousands of people in my shoes all around the globe. Knowing that I am not alone and that this is temporary gave me a great deal of calmness.
It could have been worse. We, in fact, expected the worst. We thought it was the end of the world. At that point, we really weren’t concerned about the things we are worried about now.
We just wanted to live. We are lucky and should be grateful that for some strange reasons, there is a light and the end of the tunnel and that humanity is adapting quickly. We should be thankful for our family and friends who aren’t affected and for those who were affected but survived.
Be in touch with loved ones.
Times like these reduce human existence to its bare essence and force us to appreciate the people in our lives, those who have been consistent in loving us despite our inability to reciprocate the same. This is time to build a strong bond with friends and family by spending quality time with them. This will go a long way in improving our mental health.
Articulate your thoughts on paper
In this isolation and lockdown, our minds have a high propensity of going out of control, running on autopilot, fermenting negative ideas that are inimical to our progress, and overall well-being. One way of bringing our thoughts under control is by writing them down or maybe recording them as an audio or video.
This has been proven to help us gain insight as to how our mood works, what triggers off a particular emotion, and how we can avoid such triggers. Moreover, it helps us put into perspective our thoughts and brings calmness to our minds.
“Target, Aim, Fire. ” or “Target, Pull Release ” These are the various actions taken when using a rifle and a catapult respectively, to hit a target. The pull action is the action that’s done in reverse of the course of the missile that gives it momentum to hit a specified target. This pandemic period could be likened to the “pull” step.
We can use this period to sit back, reflect on our journey thus far, evaluate our priorities, plan every aspect of our lives, and develop momentum to launch out when things normalize. Doing this gives you that feeling of being in charge of your life and can get rid of anxiety caused by uncertainties of the future.
Learn valuable skill
Learning a valuable skill is a great way to be productively engaged in this season. Even with the systematic relaxation of the location in several parts of the world, most people still have a lot of time compare to the pre-COVID period. You can leverage on this time to learn a new skill within your field that would be of immense value to you. It could be ICT related, music, writing, enrolling in short courses online, watching videos on YouTube, etc
A publication titled the impact of music therapy on mental health by a music therapist on the National Alliance on Mental Illness journal says, “Research shows the benefits of music therapy for various mental health conditions, including depression, trauma, and schizophrenia (to name a few).” It also further stated that “music acts as a medium for processing emotions, trauma, and grief—but music can also be utilized as a regulating or calming agent for anxiety or for dysregulation.” Nothing more can be said. The specialist has said it all. Music is food for the soul.
Say a prayer for depression and sadness
Meditation is a practice that has gained worldwide acceptance as an activity that is imperative for individuals to achieve mental and physical wholesomeness. It could take several forms, depending on your religious affiliation.
Prayer for depression and someone feeling sad has proven benefits for reducing mental illness. Meditation may include solitary morning walks daily befit starting the day. This helps in reducing depression by creating a great avenue for planning the day, eliminating fogginess and unproductivity.
When you read, you engage your mind with the purest of thoughts from the brightest of minds unlimited by geography that have been carefully written in down books. You are privileged to know the mind of people who you probably haven’t met and will likely never meet.
Your mind is relieved of worries about your situation and is taken on a journey through the thoughts, life, and experiences of others about the subject matter of the book. Get a book and read in this isolation; after all, it may be challenging to do so when normalcy returns.
Find a worthy cause and get involved. This idea is interesting. It helps you derive joy from other people’s happiness. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, anxiety, and depression, you could try to look around you and support those you are more privileged than.
It could be joining already existing groups with similar aspirations or starting your own. You may be worried about being laid off from work, and there are others who are unsure of where their next meal is coming from. When you meet their needs, even if it is temporary, the sense of fulfillment and happiness you will get from that act of kindness is divine.
It has been extensively researched, and scientists have found that exercise improves one’s mental health and mood. There are certain chemicals released by the body that can improve one’s mood and reduce anxiety.
This can also help in keeping one in shape, which in turn mitigates against COVID 19 induced weight gain, which is a known cause of depression.