‘Oh great, someone else telling me what I should do to feel better or feel less depressed; this’ll be good.’
I am right there with you and this is not what you may think! I am Kaylee, the Marketing Coordinator for the Psychiatric Wellness Center. I am a wife, a sister, a daughter, and a dog mom. Do you want to know what else I am? Not feeling so hot during this COVID-19 business.
I have suffered from depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember, so I will be speaking from experience, not from what Google says we should do. With that being said, I also have no medical expertise and my recommendation is to always reach out to the professionals first (I personally see both a therapist and psychiatrist).
The biggest things I have been reminding myself this year are, “Do your best, let yourself rest and do something each day that makes you smile;” It doesn’t rhyme but it’s been helping me to keep my spirits up. Now, less chatting and more about tips that could potentially help in each day being a little less rough for you.
Here are my top 5 I try to focus on:
- 1.) De-Stressing – I got REALLY into plants as the days at home went on; I already had many outdoor succulents, but now the inside of my house resembles a beautiful jungle. Having something to focus my energy on and to care for has been helping me cope more than I could explain. Find a hobby of some sort and take time out of every day to focus solely on whatever it may be. Another thing I do for myself is to take a few moments each day to just breathe. I sit in my backyard surrounded by my plants and I practice mindfulness; this is easier than it sounds, just hear me out. Wherever you are sitting, feel the ground around you. Is it cold or warm? Is it rough or maybe soft? Now focus on the sounds; birds, wind, cars or anything else that presents itself. Is each sound loud or barely there? Can you tell how far away it is? (You can even try closing your eyes during this part and really rely on your other senses.) How does the sun feel on your skin or the earth on your feet? Really be present and take it all in, it’s both relaxing and energizing and can be done for a quick minute or 15, it’s completely up to you. Again, I am not a professional but I have an idea of what works for me and it could help you as well. If you would like to look into mindfulness further, it is similar to grounding and you can learn more here.
- 2.) Hygiene – This one is simple but for me personally, it can be exhausting. If a bath or shower seems like too much to handle, try some dry shampoo in your hair (there are options for under $5), some deodorant and try again tomorrow. For some, baths are less draining, and if that is the case for you then maybe try a bath bomb or bath salts, as each can help with both calming your nerves and any inflammation or pain you may have. For me, showers are the way to go, and after I have done my “showerly duties,” I let the water run on my back and just think about NOTHING; it’s the best part of the day when I can talk myself into getting in! On all of the other days, a makeup wipe first thing in the morning helps me wake up and is better than not washing my face at all, and if I can’t muster the energy to brush my teeth, I will at least floss that day. These facts are embarrassing for me to share, but depression isn’t easy and it isn’t always pretty. I hope in sharing my struggles, you may feel less shame about yours and about the things we all do to make the best of our situations.
- 3.) Nutrition – Food is medicine, what we put into our bodies- we become, so this one is big. If the thought of making a sandwich for yourself sounds like too big of a task, just eat some lunch meat and a few slices of bread; It’s the easiest and quickest fix I can think of to help with those darker days. I sometimes am so exhausted at night that I just skip dinner and go to sleep, but I know I shouldn’t, so I recently started to at least eat a bowl of a healthy cereal before bed to have something in my system. Then, on the days I have energy and feel like cooking, I always make extra so there are healthy leftovers for the times I do not want to cook; which is, unfortunately, far too frequent. I don’t even want to mention that due to my autoimmune disease, my diet calls for no dairy, no gluten and no soy which is just one more hurdle to jump over! Climbing over hurdles still counts, right?
- 4.) Exercise – It’s good for you, all of the endorphins yada yada… We know. It doesn’t make it any easier to get up and do it. I have been checking my mail every day. The sunniest part of the day, I will take the short walk to the end of my driveway and back and at least it’s something! On days I have a bit more energy I may walk around the block, but let’s be honest, I have done that twice since quarantine started. Another big one has been yoga; I tried to get into it daily at the beginning of the quarantine and it was just too much, so I just gave up completely. Now I have a Zoom meeting set up twice a week where a friend of mine and I start our morning doing 15-30 minutes of yoga together, and it has been amazing. Sometimes it gets skipped depending on how we are feeling but it’s happening far more often than it would if I had to do it all on my own! YouTube has many free videos, but our favorite has become Yoga with Adriene. Scheduling in a workout with a friend seems to be the only way I will actually do something active lately!
- 5.) Rest – If you are working from home like me, it can be really difficult spending the whole day alone during a global pandemic and having to motivate yourself to get your work done, or even started really. On the worst days, I let myself sleep in a bit, work for a few hours then take a break to either nap, scroll on my phone, or tend to my plants, then back to it! If you are not working from home, go easy on yourself and give yourself that extra 15 minutes to go outside and just breathe. We are all living in an uncertain and stressful time. Give yourself grace and do what you can. Get to bed early on the nights you feel extra drained and try to get as much sleep as possible, your body and mind will thank you. On the nights you can’t fall asleep, try to not scroll on your phone but instead, read a book; that lack of bright light in my eyes always helps me to become tired enough to sleep, eventually. Read a bit more on proper sleep health here.
I don’t know about you, but I am feeling a little bit of everything this year, but the strongest I would say is feeling overwhelmed! Remind yourself that getting up and doing anything right now is a task worth celebrating; being patient with your motivation is key. Just keep doing your best, and if your best changes from day to day, that is okay. If you’re trying, that’s really what matters. Just focus on that next step and don’t think too much about all the what-ifs (that I know are not leaving me alone lately). None of us know the “correct” way to get through these hard times, but what we do know is that we are in control of how we react to them. As the many feelings come up, recognize them, sit with them for a moment, then decide what you can do to help ease the stress you’re feeling. We are all in this together. I’m sure you’ve heard that a lot lately, but it is nice to think about on the hardest days.If you are in need of help for your mental wellness, our office is here for you. There is no shame in reaching out to professionals for advice, and when it can be done from the comfort of your home, it makes it that much easier. Click the link below to be directed to our website for more information.
I will end this with a reminder:
Sit back wherever you are, close your eyes (after you finish reading this sentence), relax your shoulders and all of your back muscles, unclench your jaw, drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth and take a deep, long breath in through your nose. Hold that for a second or two and then slowly and fully release that breath through your mouth. Then open your eyes and keep up the amazing work. You’ve got this!
Marketing Coordinator – Psychiatric Wellness Center
Volunteer Board Member – American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
We are in this together. Help is always available. If you’re feeling alone and struggling, you can also reach out to The Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741 or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
– Psychiatric Wellness Center
Phone: (661) 431-1555