For many Australians it feels like we lost nearly two years of our lives due to the implications of COVID-19 and state-wide lockdowns. One minute life was quite ‘normal’ in 2019, then during 2020 and 2021 nearly all of our freedoms were taken away. As a result, there has been a serious decline in mental health. Calls made to services such as Lifeline, during the lockdown period, were 40% higher than two years ago.
If this sounds like you, know that you are not alone. There is help available and ways to start feeling more positive and excited for the future again.
Getting outside and being in nature is a great way to help shift your mindset and clear your head. Exercising helps to boost specific chemicals in your brain which can significantly improve your mood. The sheer beauty of nature can help shift our thinking and ground us in the present. Try taking your shoes off and walking through soft, fresh grass or soft sand to feel grounded and present.
“The simple solution for disappointing depression: Get up and get moving. Physically move. Do. Act. Get going” - Peter McWilliams”
Nutrition plays such an important role in both our mental and physical health. Providing your body with proper nutrition full of vegetables, lean meat and grains is a good start. If you’ve always wanted to improve your cooking skills, this could become a great new hobby for you to try as well. Sticking to lots of water and avoiding the consumption of alcohol when feeling low is crucial, as it will just heighten your depressive state.
“Those who are the happiest are those who do the most for others” - Booker T. Washington”
Volunteering is a great way to help with feelings of depression. Focusing on someone or something else can take away the fixation of your sad thoughts. Many people who focus on others and doing helpful deeds, find the rewarding nature of this to help their outlook significantly. If you’re anxious or unsure of doing volunteer work on your own, then ask your partner or a friend to join you in the experience.
“Humans are social beings, and we are happier, and better, when connected to others" - Paul Bloom”
The last thing you can feel like doing when feeling down is being around others. But often with depression, it’s important to force yourself to do the opposite to how you feel. Even taking a small step, like a coffee date or a walk with a mate can do wonders to boost your mood. Just having company outside your immediate household again, can greatly benefit your mental health. Social connection is a vital function of humanity and getting better mentally is so much harder alone.
If you have tried several strategies and activities to help fight your depression but still feel like it’s not improving, then don’t be afraid to seek help. Expressing your thoughts and feelings openly with a professional who can support and guide you in your recovery is an important step for many. They can assess your situation and provide expert advice, to help you get back to a more balanced state of mind.
Post lockdown for many Australians is still proving to be a difficult time as they struggle with feelings of depression. Although there are many freedoms back on table, it will take some of us longer than others to bounce back to a happier mental outlook. Being aware of your feelings and knowing that things can get better is an important first step. It’s ok to not be ok, and there are lots of ways to get help to start feeling like yourself again.