Everyone knows the feeling. You hit a rough patch and just don’t feel like yourself. Others notice you’re in a funk but you put on a brave face and vow to push through it. But depression and loneliness do not work that way.
Especially in a year like 2020, you cannot afford to push down your emotions and tell yourself things will be better tomorrow. Loneliness is, in itself, its own pandemic. Depression is a common, diagnosable disorder. It’s not a matter of feeling sad or down. In reality, this is a mental health red flag.
Depression in the Age of Coronavirus
There are many reasons why anyone would feel depressed in 2020, e.g.
- Global pandemic
- Economic crisis
- Civil unrest
- Contentious election
The events of this year may be unparalleled and there is no shame if you’re feeling down right now. Studies show that signs of depression have increased threefold in 2020 and there’s no end in sight.
The Unchecked Spread of Loneliness
We are awash in research confirming the increased prevalence of loneliness in 2020. Across all age groups and financial situations, people are struggling. Some of the documented impacts of chronic loneliness include:
- Heart problem and stroke risk
- Increased stress levels
- Decreased memory
- Further antisocial behavior
- Addiction and substance abuse
- Depression and thoughts of suicide
As you can see, it appears like a cycle. One factor — outside events, loneliness, depression — feeding the others until it becomes a blur. The first step is to recognize the situation. From there, you can move forward with self-help steps and meeting with a skilled professional.
Strategies to Keep Depression & Loneliness at Bay
Focus on Quality of Social Connections
There is no “right” amount of friends. Don’t feel pressured about that. Focus on quality rather than quantity when it comes to expanding your social life.
Be Careful With Social Media and News Updates
Of course, when feeling lonely and down, you take whatever connections you can get. Virtual friendships can be helpful but the platforms have a tendency to increase feelings of sadness and aloneness. Set careful restrictions as to how much time you spend on social media and scrolling news updates. Schedule regular tech breaks.
Joy doesn’t always arrive in big packages. Find solace and peace in the small things and keep track of them. Your gratitude journal will remind you that you have more balance in your life than you may originally recognize.
Keep a Routine
With your life turned upside down by the pandemic, it’s easy to lose sight of the power of routine. What you do each day matters — and adds up. Be careful not to leave your routine to chance. Stay focused and disciplined in the name of productivity and mental health.
Part of your routine should be daily self-care. This can include:
- Practice stress management techniques
- Engage in daily exercise and activity (preferably outdoors, if possible)
- Maintain regular sleep habits
- Make healthy food choices and hydrate well
Teaming Up to Face Down Depression & Loneliness
Don’t let your feelings of loneliness fool you. Not even a global health crisis can prevent mental health professionals from doing their job. You can reach out to a therapist via in-person or via video chat. Either way, counseling may be exactly what you need if:
- You were struggling with depression even before the pandemic hit
- Loneliness has been a problem for a while
- Depression and loneliness have appeared during and/or been accelerated by recent events
There can be so many factors at play. It makes sense to get some guidance so you can learn more about underlying causes while keeping the depression and loneliness in the meantime. Please read more about depression and reach out soon. Getting started is just a phone call away. I’m here to help!