Two different types of activities to cope with depression during a time of isolation
by Gretchen Zagzebski, LCPC, NCC
For me, staying grounded while also accomplishing little goals throughout the day have always helped me cope with worries. However, due to the more recent restrictions, some of the strategies that I’ve used in the past are either more difficult to access or have shifted in new ways. With this being said, we are still able to apply the same idea even while at home!
So here it is: Both activities that are pleasurable and activities that make us feel a sense of achievement can help us cope. We call these “pleasure activities” and “mastery activities”. These can range greatly from person to person but are great in helping us feel grounded and hopeful.
If you are like me, you might have a swirl of ideas floating around your brain that come and go throughout the day. Let’s put a pen to paper and create your own list of restorative activities to help cope with worries!
Activities that bring me great joy include creative expression and getting outdoors. For example,
- Reading light-hearted fiction novels help me to relax and stimulate my imagination
- Writing letters to loved ones in different states makes me feel connected in a creative way.
- You may also learn a new creative hobby. For me, I’m attempting to embroider (attempt is the key word here!).
- Getting outside is also crucial. Rain, fog, snow (current situation), sunshine, mild temperatures, breezy days – whatever it might be – I have to get outside. I used to think this activity was weather dependent but it doesn’t have to be. There is something very grounding about feeling snow or rain fall gently on your face on a quiet walk.
- Games are also a great pleasure activity that can bring a lot of joy and connection!
What are activities that bring you happiness?
A sense of achievement throughout the day is also crucial. I have to be very careful about the mastery activities that I choose, making sure they remain restorative and don’t cross over into depletion.
- Deep cleaning my entire bathroom obsessively might be better broken down into smaller, more realistic tasks to accomplish.
- My favorite example from this weekend was mulching our garden beds. In one million years you could have never convinced me that mulching would be something to not only make me feel good but also help me cope with worries. But, it did! Not only was I able to spend time outside in the fresh, brisk air, but I was also able to accomplish a goal that felt incredibly rewarding once completed.
- Many people are using this time for spring cleaning and others are creating donation bins to pass along to those in need.
- Getting physical, moving your body and getting your heart rate up also feels excellent!
Your pleasure activities and mastery activities will look different than mine. Instead of letting these float in and out of your mind throughout the day, create your own list and hang it up somewhere as a reminder for when you are feeling uncomfortable and could use some self-care. And remember – today will be different than tomorrow. Take it one step at a time and we will get to the other side.