How To Manage Anxiety & Depression While Social Distancing
As mental health professionals, we understand this has been a very difficult time for our clients and others who are managing anxiety & depression while social distancing.
Because these feelings of social isolation can cause heightened anxiety, deeper depression, and other mental health issues, we feel it’s important to offer our clients and others some ways of coping during this time to help everyone stay as safe and supported as possible.
Sollars & Associates have developed a list of 9 strategies that will hopefully help you manage social isolation & your mental health needs:
- Find ways to connect and enjoy time with your family and friends
- This can be done in many ways through social media, FaceTime, or meeting somewhere outside to go for a walk with a coffee in hand. Social distancing can still be done while maintaining your emotional connection to those you care about.
- Limit how often you check for updates about COVID-19 and review medical sources about it online
- Although you may be doing this to reassure yourself, it can have the opposite effect and cause more anxiety and uncertainty if you’re reviewing this information too often.
- Look for a trustworthy source of medical information to help you make lifestyle and healthcare decisions
- Some reliable online medical resources we recommend include the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Getting your information from a credible source can help lessen the anxiety incorrect or not up to date news stories can cause.
- Manage your stress to protect your immune system
- Prolonged mental health stress can weaken your body’s immune system and put you at risk of getting sick. Engage in activities that reduce your stress like watching or listening to things that make you laugh, doing a hobby you enjoy, exercising, or taking a soothing bath.
- Choose SMART goals for yourself
- “SMART” is an acronym that stands for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Setting SMART goals to help manage your anxiety & depression will put you on track, keep you focused on the present moment, and feel a sense of achievement and control.
- Comfort yourself by using your senses
- If you are struggling to manage your anxiety, think of one thing you really like or enjoy with each of your 5 senses (sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch). Describe to yourself what you really like or enjoy about each of these things without judging yourself or the experience. This should help gain control of that anxious feeling and push through it.
- Use your extra time to reflect rather than avoid
- You might be tempted to avoid “feeling” your feelings by trying to stay busy. However, social isolation and social distancing are two different things. Social isolation and not “feeling” your feelings can cause a huge strain on your mental health. We encourage you appropriately social distance, but also do simple activities that will help you avoid social isolation. Spend some time walking in nature, journaling, and reading which will help you think, feel, plan, and simply be present in the moment.
- Describe your feelings rather than react in anger
- If you are living and spending a lot of time with others, conflicts can inevitably arise. Use “I feel” statements followed by “when you” (name a behavior). Then finish with an “I need” statement to help others understand you better.
- Do your best to focus on who you can help and what you can control
- Consider what values are important to you and how you can use these values to take care of yourself and others you care about. Both anxiety & depression can make you feel unlike yourself or powerless. Really focus on doing what you can control and articulating to your loved ones the things you need help with.
Managing anxiety & depression while social distancing may be even more challenging than usual right now. We recommend putting this list of strategies on your phone or piece of paper you can refer to when you need to.
Sollars and Associates has 17 locations across Michigan and our therapists are here to help you with your emotional and mental health needs. We offer both in-person and online counseling sessions. Please call us today or fill out our online form.