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Managing the ongoing battle with Covid-19, and all the disappointment and heartache it has brought us is bad enough, but if you’re not only coping with Covid, but also managing poor mental health, it’s especially tough. The way we all have to live during lockdown - missing out on seeing friends, family, and loved ones, not going out, and getting bored and listless of our day-to-day, household activities - these are all things someone living with severe depression goes through on a regular basis. It’s no wonder the pandemic has exacerbated issues for those of us who are already feeling vulnerable.

Depression is rife during Covid, but what’s more difficult is that many of us may fall into the trap of thinking that everything will be resolved as soon as restrictions ease and we can go out and about again. Whilst this might make things easier, it won’t necessarily solve all the problems that may have spiralled over the course of the last year.Here are some ways you can gently start to ease yourself back into the world, avoid the possibility of burning out, being mindful of your mental health and taking all the care you need.

  1. Don’t rush to see everyone all at once.

Although it can be tempting to book yourself up every night of the week with social engagements, if you’ve been used to spending your time quietly at home minding your own business and doing activities by yourself, you’re likely to find a sudden influx of social activities overwhelming. Consider what feels realistic and manageable, and you can always see friends in smaller groups rather than all at once. You might be feeling nervous about socialising again, and that’s totally normal as well. There can be anxiety surrounding the feeling of letting people down, but if you are getting lots of messages about post-pandemic meetings, then just explain to your friends that you’re taking it slowly, and get a date in the diary for a few weeks’ time. 

  1. Find outdoor hobbies.

You might have begun to feel bored of walking the same paths and treading routes again and again during the time you have been constricted to your local area. Rather than hurrying back to pubs and restaurants though, it’s a good idea to vary your outdoor activity. It has been scientifically proven that spending time outdoors, going for walks and absorbing some of that all-important Vitamin D will boost your mood and fight off the symptoms of depression. There are lots of activities you might be able to find some enjoyment in - either alone, or with someone you can now start to socialise with. Here are just a few fun activities that you can experiment with as soon as travel slightly further afield is permitted.

  • Arboriculture - test out your green fingers with some tree-planting. A boost, not only to your mood, but also to the environment.

  • Rollerskating - becoming more and more popular, get your endorphins going and learn a new skill.

  1. Don’t lose what you’ve learnt.

One of the hardest parts about Covid is feeling like we’ve lost a year. It can be difficult not to look back and think that a year where the majority of us had to put big parts of our lives on hold isn’t a year wasted. When the parts that bring the most joy and satisfaction - socialising with friends and family, learning together, and community activities - were gone in just a few short months, it can be tempting to pretend the last year didn’t happen.

However, it’s important to recognise that there will have been things you can take away from the last fourteen months. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, the fact that you’re here, reading this now, means that you survived. You have a level of strength and resilience that might see you through other trying times ahead (although hopefully nothing like this one). 

You might want to start a gratitude journal, or take up another activity that can help you foster a sense of mindfulness about your recent experiences.

If you are struggling with mental health difficulties, then you might feel unsure and overwhelmed about everything opening back up. There’s a lot of pressure on the ‘return to normal’ and it’s as if we’re all expected to bounce back as soon as the pubs reopen, like the last year hasn’t happened. It’s okay to take a bit longer to readjust - after all, we’ve been living through lockdown for over a year now. So take your time, and look after yourself.

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