Let’s face it… this year has been hard for so many different reasons. We’ve been uprooted from our normal reality, and thrown into a world where you can’t go inside a store without a mask on. Some people haven’t seen their friends, families, and significant others in months. People have lost their jobs, had to leave school, and even had to move back home indefinitely. Give yourself a pat on the back because the fact that you’re making it through all of this is a huge accomplishment. Even so, much of our mental health has been on a downward spiral since last March and hasn’t gotten any better since. Throughout my entire COVID-19 experience, I have had horrible bouts of depression and anxiety due to the isolation, and the overall pain of losing a precious year at college. Despite the trials of my mental health journey, I’ve picked up a couple of life changing lessons along the way.
During the first part of the quarantine, a huge thing that got me through the isolation was painting. Not saying people should simply go out and start painting to ease their anxiety and depression, but it helped me in the sense that I found peace in dragging that brush across the canvas. Exploring your interest and finding things that you enjoy is a major step to handling intense waves of sadness. It’s important to have hobbies and activities you can find peace in, and painting was that hobby for me. I used it to forget about the outside for a while. Many times, picking up old hobbies that you loved doing as a child (that you no longer have time to do) is a good way to find something that brings you peace during tough times. Painting was actually a hobby that my younger self also enjoyed.
Many people use retail therapy to cheer up during tough times, but what about retail therapy makes people feel better when they are struggling with depression and mental health? One answer is the control that you gain when you’re either doing an in-person or online shopping spree. Having the ability to decide whether or not you want to buy something, and then deciding whether or not you want to proceed with that decision can give you a sense of control over your life. On the other hand, retail therapy can be boiled down to the simple joy of doing something nice for yourself which can take many forms. Doing something nice for yourself doesn’t necessarily mean going on 500 dollar shopping sprees. For me, it means carving out enough time in my schedule to binge-watch my favorite shows. Understanding that you deserve to do nice things for yourself, and then proceeding to do them is an effective power move to get through quarantine-produced depression (or any depression for that matter).
Depression and anxiety are serious health issues that should be taken care of and not ignored or suppressed. Please know that you are not alone and that thousands of people around the globe are feeling the same way you are. It’s not abnormal to not feel like yourself during such times as these, and it’s definitely not abnormal to take time from other things to work on your mental health.