Self-isolation can naturally present some difficulties, but if you’re stuck isolating with your partner and also suffer from depression, you might find yourself entering a pretty deep funk. Individuals with depression may find that when their daily schedules get altered it can be hard for them to get back on track and find the motivation to take on each new day. Adding in not being able to venture out of your home and needing to adapt to being with your partner 24/7 can heighten depression and cause abnormalities when it comes to mental health. With the current state of the world due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve gathered my top tips on how to cope with depression while co-isolating with a significant other.
1. Take Advantage of Digital Mental Health Resources
We’re lucky to live in a day and age with access to telehealth that allows us to keep on top of health services, even when we are at home. Don’t stop taking care of your mental health just because we have to stay indoors and can’t go to a physical office. Ask your doctor if they offer remote sessions or if they would be willing to start. If you don’t currently have a provider, there are plenty of mental health resources available, like the Talkspace app or IESO Digital Health. Don’t fall victim to being afraid of seeking help during this time- it’s okay to not be okay.
2. Stick to a Daily Routine
Before isolation, you probably had a daily routine that gave structure to your life and reminded you of your purpose. It can be easy to get lost in the shuffle of adjusting to this new lifestyle, but don’t let it interfere with what makes you happy on a daily basis. Start each morning with your favorite cup of tea and soak in the energy of another beautiful day on earth. Take the time to decompress and breathe to let all of the stress out of your body. By waking up with an open heart, you’ll feel ready to take on what lies ahead.
During your day, make it a point to take some time for you, whether that means socializing via video chat with an old friend, having lunch with your co-isolator, or opening a window to get some fresh air. Refrain from boredom by making a list each morning of your goals and things you want to accomplish. Sticking to a plan will keep your mind off things and provide less time to feel sad.
3. Designate Individual Space
When living with another person, it is important to designate your own safe space where you can have time to yourself, especially if you are both working from home. Talk with your partner about establishing different areas of your home where you can set up your own haven for alone time. If you live in a smaller space, set boundaries. For example, at a certain time one person occupies the bedroom while the other works at the dining table and vice versa. This will allow for you to keep your distance peacefully when you need time to be with your own thoughts, without offending the other person.
4. Keep the Romance Alive
Even though you might be stuck in your tiny flat and feel unmotivated to keep up with your weekly romantic rituals, like going to the cinema or cooking dinner for one another, it’s important to maintain your normal lifestyle as best you can. There are plenty of tools available if you start to run out of ideas, like date night subscription boxes or meal prep delivery services. Planning at-home date nights will give you something to look forward to during the week and give you and your partner scheduled time to catch up and take your mind off the craziness of the current time.
It’s also a good idea to maintain your sex life while isolated, as getting it on has been proven to release stress and reduce depression. Keep things fun by adding in a new sex toy or trying some new positions. However, it is possible that depression may lead to some performance anxiety like erectile dysfunction or lack of sex drive. Take care of these difficulties by talking with your partner and learning what resources are available- like medication for ED or online sex therapy for decreased sex drive. Time together in the bedroom will help you feel more connected and get your mind off of any funk you may be experiencing.
5. Practice Self-Care
Self-care is important any time of year, but especially important during a pandemic. Both your physical and mental health are at stake, so be sure to take some time for yourself and focus on doing things that will make you feel at ease. Your self-care routine doesn’t just have to consist of lighting a few candles and doing a facemask. It could be reading a book, writing in a self-care journal at the end of the day, or watching your favorite television show for the eighth time. Do whatever makes you happiest and ask your partner to join in if their company is what brings you the most joy.
6. Exercise Together
Exercising is great for the mind as it releases endorphins, which boost your mood. Engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day and get your heart pumping. You and your significant other can create isolation memories by learning some new partner exercises or completing a free virtual workout class while cheering each other on. Whatever it may be, working out with another person will be motivating, and who knows, it might turn into a new daily habit that you continue even after quarantine.
7. Communicate Frequently
The key to any relationship is communication, especially during a time full of such uncertainty.
Make sure that you let your partner know if you’re feeling down and talk about what you need. Don’t be afraid to admit if you need space or if they can do anything to help you feel better. You may find that all of this extra time together will strengthen your relationship, so take advantage and chat with them about anything and everything. Work together to make the most of all of this face-to-face time and discuss how you can improve the situation in your own home.
Overall, in a time of such uncertainty, don’t fall victim to entering a depressive state if you can help it. With these tips, I hope you are able to look at this time as a way to grow closer to your special someone. Focus your energy on the positives of this situation and know that there is a light shining at the end of the tunnel!