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Fighting MS and Depression During COVID-19

By Daryl H. Bryant (1002 words)
Posted in Living with MS on December 2, 2020

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Fighting MS and Depression During COVID-19

In the midst of a global pandemic, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Uncertainty, isolation, and the daily onslaught of bad news can wreak havoc on our emotional wellbeing. In a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, nearly half of respondents said that they felt the pandemic was harmful to their mental health. When you struggle with MS it can be hard to maintain a positive outlook as it is, so a global pandemic certainly doesn’t help. Know that you are not alone, MS warrior! 

The strategies we’re going to cover in this post are meant to help you cope with MS by battling negative thoughts and improving your mood. By incorporating these tips into your life, you can help fight depression and boost positivity during this difficult time. 

Here are 10 tips on fighting depression during the pandemic: 

1. Get ready each morning. 

Even though you may be working from home, it’s important to maintain a sense of normalcy by keeping up with as much of your routine as you can. Not only is it good for your physical self, but it’s beneficial to your mind. Continue to wake up at the same time you did before the pandemic and go through your morning routine. Shower and put on clean clothes each morning. It may not seem like much, but starting your day off this way goes a long way in how you feel for the rest of the day.  

2. Fuel your body with healthy foods.

What you feed your body plays a huge role in your emotional wellbeing. You should eat foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, complex carbs, and fatty acids to promote brain health. A diet that is filled with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and nuts is integral in maintaining a healthy mind. Many people have noticed a positive change in their mood and energy levels after switching to a cleaner diet. 

3. Avoid foods that don’t fuel your body. 

If something isn’t healthy for your body, then it’s not going to be healthy for your mind either. When fighting symptoms of depression, you should try to avoid or limit your consumption of caffeine, alcohol, refined foods, overly-processed foods, sugary foods, and deep-fried foods. You don’t have to completely cut them out, but you should try your best to reduce how much you consume. 

4. Regulate your sleep cycle. 

Try to get up and go to bed at the same time each day. This helps to establish normalcy in your routine and ensures that you get an adequate amount of sleep. A vital part of regulating your sleep cycle is refraining from napping during the day. Naps can ultimately make it more difficult to get good sleep at night. Not sleeping enough or having an erratic sleep cycle can worsen symptoms of depression and MS.

5. Stay moving and get fresh air. 

The feelings of isolation we feel from being cut off from others is perpetuated by sitting at home all day. Even if it’s just a short walk each day, any amount of exercise is highly beneficial to your mental health. Getting outside and getting fresh air is equally important. Sometimes there will be days where you just don’t feel up for a walk and that’s fine! When this happens, try to sit outside for an hour. Read a book or get some work done out there. You’d be surprised at what a difference a little fresh air can make. 

6. Reach out to friends and family.

As humans, we are social beings. It’s hard not being able to see our friends and family during a pandemic. While nothing can quite measure up to being able to speak to and touch our loved ones in person, technology has come a long way in helping us reach out. Try to reach out to one friend, coworker, or family member each day. Send an email, give them a call, or schedule a Zoom chat so you can speak face-to-face. 

7. Find a new hobby you enjoy.

Whether it’s painting, playing an instrument, or learning a new language, finding an outlet that you enjoy is great for promoting brain health and fighting depression. Having a project or goal to focus our energy on helps us to break away from negative thoughts. Think about setting milestones within your new hobby and rewarding yourself when you reach them. When you complete a painting or learn five new phrases in French, treat yourself to something nice. Having things to be excited about can help ease stress and bring you joy. 

8. Limit your news consumption.

I know it can be difficult, but this is important. So much of what we see in the media is sensationalized and unreliable. There’s a big difference between staying informed and overconsuming. Staying informed is great, but try to stick to a few reputable news sources and limit how often you check social media. The overconsumption of news will do nothing but fuel fear and negativity. 

9. Express gratitude, even when you aren’t feeling it. 

When you’re feeling depressed, it’s easy to feel dark and hopeless. Expressing gratitude can play a huge part in improving your mood and training your mind to see the world in a more positive light. Try writing down ten things you feel gratitude for every single morning, even when you aren’t feeling grateful. It can be anything you want! After doing this for a little while, you’ll see how effective it can be in boosting your mood. 

10. Keep your space clean. 

If your work or living space is covered in clutter, your mind will feel cluttered too. When you work or live in an unclean space, it often results in you feeling lethargic or unsettled. It can be incredibly therapeutic to do simple tasks like putting away the laundry, wiping down the countertops, and vacuuming the carpets. Think of cleaning like giving both your space and your mind a blank canvas. 

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