Depression has become a significant side effect of your stay-at-home requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People are feeling more and more isolated as we are required to keep our social distance from friends, family and associates.
Our social routines have been disrupted and social distancing is the new norm. Life as we knew it has transformed dramatically. Children are learning at home and many people have not been able to work. The isolation is a significant challenge for many of us.
Depression is a common but serious disorder that affects how you feel, think and manage your daily activities such as sleeping, eating and working. Feeling sad, anxious, irritable and pessimistic are symptoms of depression. Before the pandemic, about 10% of the American population suffered from various degrees of depression. Since the pandemic the estimate has risen to nearly 28% of the population. Suicide rates have risen 20% higher in many communities.
Exercise has been shown to be an effective and natural treatment for depression. Exercise promotes several changes in the brain including neural growth and lower inflammation. It also releases endorphins which are power chemicals in the brain giving you a sense of well-being and euphoria. Researchers also suspect regular exercise increases serotonin, a chemical in the brain that regulates anxiety, happiness, and moods.
In addition to the chemical benefits, regular exercise naturally increases the self-esteem. People who exercise are more confident and positive. They get more things done and manage stress better. They tend to be more socially interactive and cope with problems in a healthier way. These benefits are good for combating symptoms of depression.
One of the major side affects of the stay-at-home orders nationally has been an increase in sedentary lifestyles. We sit at home more and watch TV or play video games. Children are especially affected by the change in activity. We all need to keep active during the pandemic and exercise is a great method to keep us moving.
Proper nutrition goes hand in hand with exercise. Maintaining a good calorie intake level is vital especially if we are more sedentary. Moving less and eating more will only cause weight gain in the population. Weight gain is one of the common symptoms of depression. When we eat well, we feel better about ourselves. Our self-esteem improves, and we work on other areas of our lives that need improvement.
Start today on your new efforts to battle negative emotions and feelings. Go for a walk today. Spend at least a half hour walking. Feel how good it feels to be outside in the fresh air and doing something good for yourself. Have a nice healthy lunch. Something that tastes good but low in fat. Think about how positive you feel when you eat a healthy meal. When you feel the urge to snack or eat something high in calories, redirect yourself to something positive. Do something around the house that has needed to get done for a while. Create a circumstance where you can create a positive outcome.