Depression in a Time of Covid

(Erm, let it be known that March 6–8 was a wine-tasting weekend getaway…)
  1. Meditate. Ten minutes, in the morning, while I’m waiting for the water to boil for the coffee, before I consume anything from the outside world. Checking in with myself before I check in with anything else.
  2. Outside. Sometimes this is paired with exercise, sometimes it’s a walk at lunch or when I get home, sometimes it’s time in the backyard. Breath fresh air. Experience nature.
  3. Exercise. Move my body. Most of the time, this is running. But not always. Yoga counts. Walking counts.
  4. Sleep. Not too little, not too much. And hopefully at more or less the same times every day. For me, eight to nine hours is the sweet spot. When I’m well-rested, that’s the amount of time I’ll sleep without an alarm. If I get less, it’s usually a function of not going to bed early enough to deal with an early morning alarm. If I get more, it’s a symptom of depression.
  5. Shower/hygiene and related…
  6. Real Clothes. Put some damn pants on. Take a shower. Do human hygienic things, like clipping my nails, plucking my eyebrows, shaving my… parts. This helps me remember I’m a person, not a lump in pajamas. Sure, it’s fun now and then to lounge around all day, but the idea is not to let it become a habit.
  7. Write/journal. Even if you’re “not a writer,” I’m pretty convinced that everyone can benefit from jotting a few notes down each day. But, right, this isn’t advice. What I meant to say is, if nothing else, I try to journal one page every night, and this includes writing down three things I’m grateful for. Sometimes I write some profound epiphany, sometimes I feel like I’m doing the “Dear Diary” kiddo shit a sixth-grader could do. Doesn’t matter. Note it doesn’t say, “good writing.”
  8. Music. This helps me make a boring project fun, helps me get out of my head, helps me set a mood if I’m not feeling it naturally. I have a lot of ambient playlists and I let Spotify and Amazon Prime do it all — that is, I’m no aficionado making my own themed playlists, but I’ll play around until I find one that perks me up or helps me focus (or both).
  9. Social. Yes, even for as introverted as I am, this is on the list. This can include text exchanges and work interactions, but does not count the quotidian exchanges with my partner. I tend to hermit, so putting this on the list helps me connect, even on a very minimal level.
  10. Drink water. Yes, sometimes this is hard.
  11. 0–2 alcohol. I can still handle my liquor, but the mental hangover the next day is almost worse than any physical hangover. Plus it’s inconsistent these days with the Lexapro.
  12. 1 chore/to-do. Usually, my trap is trying to put too much on my plate and then feel like I failed. But on bad days, I need to get out of my head long enough to do one thing: do dishes, sweep the floor, sort some mail.
  13. Touch. A hug, sex, cuddling. Also helps me remember I’m a human.
  14. Mood — am and pm. Pretty self-explanatory. Reminds me to check in and actually ask myself how I’m feeling.
  15. Other symptoms. Do I have anxiety-related IBS? Headache? Fatigue?
  16. Meds. Not a reminder to take them, but a reminder that they, too, are part of how I take care of myself and that I take them for a reason.

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Erin Bank

Erin Bank

SF-based writer who covers topics related to mental health, social issues, local news, creativity, and science. Blog — bankoferin.com