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Finding Your Joy to Defeat 2020 Depression and Anxiety

There’s a lot going on in 2020 and the truth is, we’re all feeling the pressure of it being just too much.  You have been living during something you’d only heard about as a horror movie, a scary past, or a hypothetical possibility in a far-off distant future.  You woke up one day and boom – it was your reality.  Vacations cancelled, school closed, jobs lost.  Every day sometimes seems more uncertain than the last but guess what, you’re still here! It might not be over yet BUT nothing lasts forever.

It’s okay to NOT be okay right now, a pandemic causes stress. You are coping with fear and anxiety about a new disease and maybe even your financial situation because of it.  According to Medical News Today, a recent study found that people with less than $5000 in savings were 50% more likely to experience symptoms of depression.  Social distancing can make you feel isolated and alone which increases the stress and anxiety.  Have you been experiencing any of the following?

  • Unable to sleep normally or don’t feel fully rested everyday
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Chronic health problems seem worse
  • Mental health issues heightened
  • Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, or other substances

We all cope with stress differently.  Some of us retreat, some seem to shine.  Don’t hold yourself to anyone else’s abilities or expectations but do take care of yourself.  You are not alone and there are tons of resources to help you and your family cope.  Here’s just a few:

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Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress

Know what to do if you get sick, what the symptoms and treatments are, and where to get a test.

Take breaks from the news.  It’s great that you can access it 24 hours a day, but should you? The story rarely changes within the day and you can always catch up on it later.  Not to mention, your friends and family will alert you to the craziest things happening.  This is the one times when I’m okay with not knowing until necessary. Limit how much you see and read because it can be upsetting and increase stress levels.

Take breaks from social media. Social media has been linked to depression and secondary trauma during this pandemic. Remember when you were sick of seeing people’s vacations, kids, and dogs?  Now you’re sick of seeing their opinions and arguments.  Reclaim your time.  No need to announce your departure, that just creates more questions and opinions.  Just take the break, come back, and mingle as you please.  The whole point of social media is to feel good and have fun, if that’s not happening, then you need a break.  I can’t even scroll anymore because my eyes roll the whole time. I’ve been on a break for about a month and I’ve never been more productive! Try it.

Your body is begging you to give it something else to focus on:

  • meditate
  • try a new exercise routine
  • take more naps
  • practice breathing, just breathe
  • enjoy silence
  • try new healthy recipes
  • try a no meat (or sugar) day or week

Tighten your connections with like-minded people – while that can also be detrimental to your health if you are surrounding yourself with the wrong community, it can be liberating to know a safe place to voice your concerns.  Be careful in choosing your tribe.  You want to support and be supported in ways that enhance your life not take away from it or drive your stress and anxiety higher.

Take ownership of your part in misinformation.  It’s spreading rampantly and we all have had a part in it.  Whether we shared something we thought was true or a callous joke that we identified with, it would be hard to say that we haven’t participated somehow. We must switch to “the buck stops here” attitude.  That means we each must actively stop sharing things that feel true, but we have no known source for it being a fact.  We must question:

  • What is the source?
  • What is the motivation?
  • What if it’s true?
  • But what if it’s not?
  • Can I google it and find the truth in more than one trusted place? How do I decide what to trust?
  • Am I only trusting that which agrees with me or am I growing in my understanding and being challenged with new information?
  • Should I wait and see what happens if this is new information?

Your health matters.  Find more ways to avoid depression.

Finding Joy

Write down 5 things that bring you joy and surround yourself with them.  My five:

Photography – especially nature and sunsets/sunrise.

Cooking – trying new recipes and buying more gadgets to make more recipes.

Family – playing with my littles and my bigs (which I call the originals because of that whole 12-year age gap between the first 3 and the last 2).  We play board games, card games, act silly – there are chases and shameless boasting wins), sing songs (musicals must be watched and sung at the same time), indoor snowball fight, Just Dance 2020, indoor dodgeball (we have this soccer ball plushie so no one gets hurt and the littles love it, oh yeah and mom gets payback), and we daydream together – where to travel next?

Walks – in the garden, on the beach, in the park.  Just walking, listening to nature, and enjoying the scenery.

Creating – whether it’s planning a trip, working on patterns and designs, crafting a business presence, or some clever craft around the house.  I love it all.  Decorating for holidays and birthdays has always been one of my favorite things to do.  This pandemic stopped nothing.

Keep exploring your travel dreams. 

It can be hard to even think about traveling when you look at the long list of what we can’t do and where we can’t go right now.  Don’t let this make you feel defeated.  Enjoy what you can:

  • be a local tourist in your town
  • makeover your home/garden/patio/bedroom into your temporary getaway
  • get a new treat from somewhere exotic (ok maybe from amazon but it feels exotic)
  • test a recipe from somewhere you’d love to be right now
  • plan your next getaway – road trip, staycation, or scenic drive (try the fall foliage prediction map)

When we make it through this, what do you want to see, where do you want to go?  My answer – EVERYWHERE! My pocketbook might not agree but a girl can dream.

Go ahead, find your joy.  Stress less and play more. 

Be happy and let your mind wander and wonder.

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