Are you feeling low? You’re not alone in feeling sad.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought sadness, mourning, fear and anxiety to many people. Public health actions, necessary as they are – such as social distancing – can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase low moods.
Sad feelings, left unchecked, may descend into a depression where feelings of sadness, low self-esteem and hopelessness are so intense they interfere with day-to-day living.
Depression is a common condition, affecting one in five people at some stage during their lifetime. It involves feelings of sadness, low self-esteem, hopelessness, weariness, sleeping problems and physical pains. Feeling low can be a normal response to upsetting or stressful experiences, and these feelings will usually pass. The majority of depressed people make a full recovery with appropriate treatment.
It is essential to seek medical help to discuss any troubling symptoms and to rule out any underlying health issues.
On a brighter note, there are several self-help strategies as well as professional support that can be used to make life happier:
1. Keeping in touch. By contacting a friend or relative, by phone or video-link, you can engage with other people’s lives and acknowledge different perspectives. Make a point of contacting those who make you feel good in their company. As for the moaners in your life, do not neglect them, but keep a mental distance from their mood-lowering effects.
2. Treats. Giving yourself a treat can often lift the mood. This should not mean spending money that you do not have, nor comfort-eating, binge-drinking and drug-taking – which can cause many problems in the long term. Instead, consider visiting a favourite place, watching an uplifting film, or cooking a special meal. Here are some tried and tested ways of lifting depression:
3. Good sleeping, eating and self-care. Looking after general health can maximise the chances of feeling better soon and an integral part of self-respect. It is difficult to feel good if sleep is disturbed or inadequate, or if you do not have a healthy lifestyle.
4. Write in a Gratitude diary. Yes, really. Keep it by your bedside, and write down five happy things that happened in the day, before you sleep. (Four things will not do.) You don’t need to have experienced huge things like winning the lottery. It could include the small stuff that makes you smile. The song of a robin outside your window. A smile from a stranger. A forgotten ten-pound note found in the pocket of a coat. These things can mount up to produce a day of happy surprises.
5. Conduct Acts of Kindness. Look outwards and do something for someone else – a phone call to check up on a local older person. Offer to shop for a neighbour. Goodness spreads, affecting the giver as well as the recipient.
6. Capitalise on your Strengths. Write a list of things you do well – and do them more often, whether it is baking a fantastic cake, writing a short story or tidying cupboards. A sense of achievement can work wonders on your mood.
7. Savour Nice Things. Be mindful of good things when they happen. Savour a tasty meal with every bite, not bolted down while watching TV. Enjoy your happy moments.
8. Physical Exercise. It is well known that when you exercise, endorphins are released into the body, creating positive feelings of well-being. There is also the satisfaction that comes from the results of feeling fitter.
9. Practical activities. Learning new things can lift the mood by giving a sense of diversion and achievement, too. Why not check out some courses [link to ADL course page] now.
10. Make Something. Being creative can be fun, and you could produce some useful items, presents, and give yourself a boost too. Knit a simple scarf – and while you are about it, knit one for a friend or relative also. Make cards, sew a bookmark, write a letter, paint a picture, sketch, create a sock puppet for a young child… the list can be endless… whatever springs to mind – you can make someone’s day – as well as being pleased with your developing skills.
11. Listen to Music. Play your favourite uplifting music for a quick pick-me-up. Dance around the kitchen. And while you are about it, think of the other nice sounds – waterfalls, gentle rain, rustling leaves in the wind, the purring of a cat.
12. Act Confidently. Occasionally, just acting as if one is happy and confident can have the effect of changing feelings, even though it may seem odd at first. Others will react more positively to the person who is cheerful and upbeat.
Sometimes, it is difficult for people who feel sad to take action. Perhaps there are difficulties in life that cannot be solved. But it is crucial to find ways of managing challenges so that they do not overwhelm you. Seeking help can be the first step to this.
Medical involvement is important because the physical symptoms of depression may resemble those of other conditions, and checking these is vital. Doctors can suggest a course of anti-depressant drugs. These need to be considered carefully before taking them, as they are not suitable for everyone with depression.
Depression can be a profoundly distressing experience, and it may be one of the most significant challenges in an individual’s life. It can force people to consider themselves in depth and consider how to change things in life, possibly for the better.