Note: I’m deviating from my typical writing topics to discuss mental health because many writers, myself included, battle depression and other mental health issues. It’s a topic that has been taboo for far too long. Self-care as a writer is just as important as any writing tip.
Mental health has been one of the most under-discussed topics throughout COVID. We’ve talked about washing our hands for at least twenty seconds, carrying around hand sanitizers, wearing masks, and keeping six feet from one another. But we’ve failed to highlight the importance of prioritizing mental health.
We encourage vaccinations and argue over the validity of continued mask-wearing. But, how often do we discuss extended periods of social isolation being an unnatural component of human nature? How it can harm our mental health, even after we’re no longer socially isolating? And how often do we discuss COVID potentially worsening addictive behavior and encouraging the deterioration of individuals who already have fragile mental health, even after life has mostly returned to normal?
Just because a good portion of us are vaccinated, restaurants are back open, and lockdowns are no longer in place doesn’t mean many aren’t still trying to overcome the aftermath of its destruction. Beyond the 6.9 million lives COVID has claimed globally, many people are still trying to climb out of a dark pit and shake off the ever-so-present existence of depression. Working from home and staying indoors can have its benefits. It can also encourage cabin fever and exacerbate depressive episodes.
3 Ways To Fight Post-Covid Cabin Fever
- Create Sleep & Wake Routines: Sleep is essential. Without it, our productivity can plummet. Practice good sleep hygiene by getting off of all screens at least an hour before bed. Screens include the following: TV, computers, smartphones, smartwatches, and tablets. This means stop playing games on your cell phone. Stop texting, surfing social media, and the internet, etc. Try going to bed at the same time every night. If you’ve got insomnia, then see your doctor for medication that can help. I have clinical insomnia and take medication at night for it. It helps immensely.
- Get Outside: This is one of the most important things any of us can do for ourselves. Once I open up my computer, start checking emails, editing my manuscript, and monitoring my social media feeds, I find that I sometimes don’t get outside. Yikes. We should try to get outside at least once a day. This is as important as getting proper sleep. What happens when you don’t get outside for one day? More “inside” days can follow. String those together, and you might find yourself experiencing a bit of cabin fever.
- Talk To Someone: Remaining six feet apart has turned some people who are already closed off to be even more so. So, this is the best time to meet up with friends or loved ones you can lean on and get in touch with those you’ve lost contact with. It’s also the perfect opportunity to schedule an appointment with your therapist or get one if you don’t already have one. I have a great therapist, and we’ve had phone meetings at least once a week for the past year and a half. She’s really helped me through every phase of COVID.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, we have to come to terms with the fact that life will never be the same. We will forever be affected by COVID. It’s a simple fact. However, how we react to new lifestyle changes can make all the difference in the world. Doing little things every day can help. Keeping a healthy sleep schedule, getting outdoors, and talking to someone can reduce COVID side effects on our mental health.
Notice I didn’t list “do something you love” as a way to combat depression. It’s because when you’re experiencing waves of depressive episodes, it’s hard to have the desire to do what you love. At the end of the day, when we take care of our mental health, we’re able to replenish lost energy and regain the joy of working on our passion projects.