The worry and uncertainty of the past six months have left many feeling beaten down. Dr. Michelle Riba, associate director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center, offers advice for perking back up.
Reunite with loved ones — safely
Digital platforms like FaceTime and Zoom have been our primary way of connecting with loved ones while observing social distancing guidelines, but those nominal interactions only go so far. “We’re social beings, and loneliness is not good for us,” Riba says. “At a certain point, it’s important to start getting re-engaged.” She recommends spending time with others over outdoor activities, such as tennis and biking, that allow for minimal proximity.
Get back into a routine
Without the structure of appointments, meetings, and morning commutes, many have cast aside their normal habits. But Riba says the 2 a.m. bedtimes and 4 p.m. banana-bread-for-lunches are keeping us from a restored sense of normalcy. “It’s important now to recalibrate, to get back to regular sleeping patterns and balanced diets,” she says. Healthy eating habits and consistent sleep schedules have both been linked to mental wellness.
Less news, better views
Many of us have been glued to our phones and televisions, anxiously awaiting news of the latest unrest or infection statistics. Aside from the stress and despondency that can result from consuming too much negative content, Riba says this also keeps us locked up inside. Simply taking in fresh air and natural beauty has been shown to brighten one’s mood. In fact, Riba says, “studies have shown that one’s mental health improves if they do some of their exercising outside.” You might be surprised just how much an outdoor run, or even a short, after-dinner walk, can do for your state of mind.