Depersonalization During Coronavirus - 10 Simple Tips To Get Through It
It's a stressful time for pretty much everyone on the planet.
The news is filled with frightening stories about Coronavirus infection and death rates.
We’re all concerned for our health and the health of our friends and loved ones.
And what's the best thing we can do to slow the spread of the virus?
Stay inside and self-isolate.
It's certainly effective, but it brings its own set of challenges with it. Isolation, not being able to go and exercise as normal, meet your friends and loved ones etc can be a major disruption to your mental health.
For people with anxiety-based conditions like Depersonalization, this can be even more difficult.
With any anxiety-based condition, your baseline levels of anxiety are higher than normal. And this can make things tough, even on a good day!
But when you’re being bombarded with extra worries about a pandemic, about your health and the health of others, the anxiety levels and feelings of DP can go through the roof.
And because you feel unable to do normal things that mitigate anxiety, like exercising, socializing etc, you might feel trapped in an ongoing cycle of stress.
So while we're self-isolating, what can we do to address this and feel less anxiety and Depersonalization?
First of all, focus on the things that you can control.
So much of the Coronavirus pandemic feels massive and overwhelming, and in many ways it is. And depending on what county you’re living in, you might feel frustrated with your government’s response, or with the lack of self-isolation compliance in the general public.
But here’s the thing: Ultimately, all of those things are out of your control. It’s natural to feel frustrated, but instead of cultivating that, focus on what you CAN control.
So what can you control that will reduce your anxiety and DP? Let's take a look!
1. Self-Isolation and Social Distancing
Yes, it can be tough to stay away from your family and friends, but just remember that it’s for your own benefit and theirs too. Reducing the amount of people you meet during the day is pretty much the best thing we can do to reduce transmission of disease.
If you are living with people, or are venturing out to the shop to get food, always stick to the minimum safe distance as recommended. (2 Meters / 7 feet is standard).
This might seem like a source of anxiety, but instead try to reframe it like this: It's such a positive contribution to make, both in terms of your own health and the health of others, and also in terms of the wider social effort.
You're doing the right thing! And don't forget -- this is all a temporary measure and things will get back to normal in time.
2. Your Hygiene
Make sure you’re following all of the recommended hygiene practices for reducing Coronavirus transmission: regular handwashing, cleaning surfaces etc.
But also, make sure to maintain your own personal hygiene routine : Showering, shaving, washing your teeth etc, doing all the things you normally would. Don't lounge around all day in your pyjamas, no matter how tempting that might be! 🙂
Put on your clothes and keep a regular routine.This will help to maintain a sense of normality and reduce levels of anxiety and Depersonalization during Coronavirus!
3. News Consumption
If you want to stay informed, by all means do so, but keep it regulated!
Of course it's good to know what's happening, but bear in mind that constantly refreshing your news feed, or reading an endless stream of articles about Coronavirus, is only going to make you feel more anxious.
Try and limit your news consumption to a specific amount of time per day. With me, I have a rule that I don't look at news after 6pm. After that it's time for reading books and maybe a movie or an episode of something on Netflix!
And one more thing -- You might find yourself tempted to use this time to do lots of research on Depersonalization, getting involved in online forums and Facebook groups. This can seem like a great idea but it’s exactly what you shouldn’t be doing!
A good exercise routine is so important for moderating levels of anxiety. It gets the endorphins flowing, it gives you a sense of accomplishment. A good exercise routine was a huge part of my recovery from Depersonalization!
Unfortunately, going to the gym isn’t an option at the moment. But you can still get a good workout done at home!
You can get home workout kits from Amazon that won’t break the bank, and there are tons of YouTube channels that feature high-intensity workouts that you can do without leaving home. But however you decide to approach it, make sure you get that daily exercise!
5. Staying In Contact
Stay in contact with your friends and family -- Just do it digitally! Use WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, whatever. Call your parents, grandparents, siblings. Catch up with them, and make to also talk about things other than just health concerns, Coronavirus etc. Try and keep it as normal and fun as possible!
Personally, I’ve been doing a weekly group catchup with my friends and it’s been fantastic. Again, all of this will maintain a sense of normality for you and keep levels of anxiety and DP down.
6. Your Daily Routine
When you don’t have to get up and go to work in the morning, it can be very easy to just stay in bed, and have that non-routine creep into the whole day. The problem with this is that it can affect your motivation and your sleep, which are both so important in terms of anxiety reduction.
So stick to a routine! Get out of bed in the morning, do some exercise at around the same time each day, try to get to bed at the same time each evening too.
Don’t fall into the trap of sitting around aimlessly, eating and drinking too much, waiting for this all to pass. A strong daily routine will be hugely beneficial for your motivation, and for keeping down levels of anxiety and Depersonalization during Coronavirus.
7. Your Diet
Your diet is super important when dealing with any anxiety-based condition, and Depersonalization is no different. And when you're on lockdown it can be very easy to fall out of good dietary habits!
When you're working a 9 to 5, you tend not to deviate too much from having breakfast, lunch and dinner at roughly the same times every day. But when you're at home all day, and not necessarily having to stick to those times, you might end up doing a lot of snacking, eating junk food, eating late at night etc.
As best you can, try to stick to a normal daily eating routine! Have a good breakfast and lunch, avoid snacking in between, and don't eat your dinner too late or the digestion will disrupt your sleep.
Also: Eat plenty of fruit and veg, and avoid junk food. Stay hydrated, at least six to eight glasses of water per day!
And of course, if you're suffering from any anxiety-based condition, you should be avoiding caffeine completely for the time being!
8. Weed, Drugs, Alcohol
When we're cooped up in one place we may feel the need to rely more on alcohol, weed or other drugs to relax us and take the edge off. This can be especially easy when we don't have to go to work in the morning!
But if you have any anxiety condition like Depersonalization, you do need to be very careful with this. With alcohol, for example, you might enjoy having a few drinks, but the hangover the next day can make you feel mentally and physically unable to take on the day, and much more vulnerable to anxiety and intrusive thoughts. Check out this article for more advice on drinking alcohol with anxiety and DP.
Here’s an important note for anyone who has developed Depersonalization from smoking weed. Because you’re having to spend a lot of time indoors, there may be a particularly strong temptation to smoke in order to try and relax and pass the time. I strongly recommend avoiding this!
You should avoid weed and all other drugs at least until you’re completely recovered from Depersonalization. There is also a persistent idea that if you have weed-induced Depersonalization, it might be possible to get out of it by smoking more weed. This will not work!
Depersonalization recovery (or from any anxiety-based condition) involves allowing yourself the time and the space to get rid of anxious thoughts and habits. Taking more of the drug that triggered it in the first place is obviously not a great idea. So skip the weed for now!
9. Your Focus
This is one of the MOST important element for people with Depersonalization or any other anxiety spectrum condition. Yes, you may be stuck indoors and without a normal work routine, but that doesn’t mean that you need to spend your day consuming an endless stream of frightening news stories, as these will only aggravate anxious thoughts and feelings of Depersonalization.
Fortunately, we live in an age of distraction! If you have access to the internet, you have access to endless films, podcasts, music, games etc etc.
You can get lost in a great podcast or binge watch a great show. Learn a language, or how to play an instrument. Ok, for the moment we may not have the option of going to the cinema or the theatre, but it’s not as if we have to sit around at home doing nothing.
If you sit around doing nothing, you're much more likely to drift off into anxious, panicky thoughts. So keep your attention and energy focused on fun, interesting, constructive activities!
10. Get Creative!
Instead of thinking of all of this as downtime, think of it as an opportunity! This time could be a perfect opportunity to pursue your own creative goals if you're not doing so already.
Get writing, painting, composing, whatever. Block off a few hours each day for your creativity. If you're learning your craft, look up tutorials on YouTube, read books from Amazon. Use this time as a rare chance to develop and boost your creativity.
And don’t worry about the limitations -- Use them! If you’re a filmmaker, make a short film about self-isolation. If you're a musician, write a song about quarantine!
We’re all dealing with some pretty huge changes to our daily lives, and at times it can seem difficult.
But do try and frame them as wonderful, positive things. You are doing your bit to help society and stop the spread of the virus.
Remember that this is all a temporary, but necessary measure. Things WILL get back to normal!
In the meantime: Exercise, eat well, be creative and keep your mind occupied and be creative.
That will greatly reduce any undue anxiety, intrusive thoughts and feelings of Depersonalization.
Make the best of it and stay safe!