How to prevent the Covid-19 Depression
Stay 6 feet away from Covid-19 Depression that is coming soon!
What we do know is that 70% of the population is expected to get Covid-19. What most of us are already thinking is that 100% of the world’s population will experience depression and this is including the percentage of people who experience learning difficulties but is not including the percentage of children yet to be born or the number of children yet to be conceived.
I present to you my extensive recommendations for dealing with and prevention of the “Covid-19 Depression” pandemic that we (psychologists and psychotherapists) predict we will experience soon. These have been tested in my practice in other contexts, briefly but still tested for the current situation. These recommendations are not a vaccine, nor a cure-all but an opportunity to regain control in a world that depends on everyone.
Recommendations for adults during Covid-19 quarantine or how to stay 6 feet away from depression
What you have experienced in the last weeks and days (fear, panic, horror, feelings of irrevocable loss, insecurity, anxiety, despair, desire to make a "deal" with God or another higher power, a sudden feeling of inexplicable optimism, desire to be immersed in your work and ignore what is happening, complete denial of danger, risky actions which are uncharacteristic of you, thoughts of conspiracy theories, extreme feelings of fear and helplessness ... are all normal feelings and behaviours that are experienced by everyone to a lesser or a greater extent. These are the feelings that accompany us after a severe and sudden loss and throughout the subsequent grief.
The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a crisis in all levels of life and a sudden, total change in daily life. These feelings will not continue forever, since everything has a beginning and an end. They will appear from time to time with varying intensity but will gradually fade away and you will return to a more normal lifestyle.
In times of crisis - after the shock, panic, denial, the measures that you ultimately take to keep yourself and your family safe, after ensuring the presence of basic necessities (shelter, food, a safe and protected environment), the time comes to accept the situation and the fact that we have no power over it except through indirect action. Namely, to accept what we have lost, to quickly evaluate what we have, and immediately turn it into a resource to facilitate faster adaptation.
Anxiety can be managed! Look for legitimate sources and detailed recommendations for dealing with and managing anxiety. Below is a brief summary of what you can do:
- Minimise sources of anxiety - you do not have to compulsively seek out Covid-19-related information because the evidence and advice is now clear. Keep yourself informed using only secure sources of information!
- Give time and space for expressing anxiety, for example between 16.15 and 16.55 only. For the rest of the day, place each of your worries in a "Worry box", a virtual safe deposit box. This box may also be real. In it, you can place worries and fears you’ve written down on post-it notes. You can throw them out once a week (even without reading them). There are also worry box apps for your phone.
- Take back control. Transition from "I can't control this" to "I can control something else" - my work, my household, my free time, my children's education, and more.
- Set short, daily goals to tick off at the end of the day.
- Use physical exercise, yoga, dance, music, art, anything that relaxes and keeps you in good shape.
- Avoid alcohol abuse and other stimulants. They will only increase your anxiety.
- Look at the situation paradoxically and see if it gives you a new opportunity. Be bold and creative.
- Once you are in good enough shape to continue adapting to the new situation, read and think through the ideas below and apply and adapt them to your own life.
You are at home, limited by the space and compulsory presence of other family members or you are completely alone. Get creative! Get into a new life rhythm based on your old one. If you are single, you already know how to live independently. Under no circumstances should social exclusion isolate you emotionally. You must have noticed that it is because of social isolation that you are in one way or another feeling closer to your loved ones, to the professional community, to all of the people in the world, experiencing togetherness and equality.
0. Immediately get out of your pyjamas or tracksuit! Pyjamas are worn constantly when we are ill. If you have been in your pyjamas for two weeks, watching movies, eating and drinking, neglecting your personal hygiene, experiencing sleep disturbances, finding yourself or others getting irritable, thoughts of meaninglessness come to you ... Attention! You are less than 6 feet away from depression. Take action by first getting out of your pyjamas and getting dressed!
1. Always be informed by a trusted source - legitimate media, WHO, or a professional community. Limit informing yourself and reading Covid-19-related articles to once or twice a day. Ideally, once or less, especially if you are already self-isolating and consider your anxiety to be high. One of the most amplifying factors for your anxiety is precisely news of unclear origin and apocalyptic predictions. The search engines you use will primarily offer you "related" articles, and you may find yourself in a whirlwind of inaccurate and commercial news.
* the first meaning of the word crisis is "opportunity, decision, I decide"
** Apocalypse (ἀποκάλυψις) is a Greek word means revelation, the breaking of the veil, not the end of the world
2. At home, establish who will be responsible for what. Set rules and follow them. Staying under quarantine for a longer time will lead to blurred boundaries - personal, professional, close-family, broad-family, spatial in a purely domestic context. The rules will help you stay stable enough. Provide personal space for each member of your household respectfully. This space may be a physical one where a person is able to unwind and reboot, but it can also be a virtual one - watching a favourite show or old sport games, playing a video game, watching culinary shows, or just staring into space. Have respect and consideration for each other and the spaces you share.
3. Provide peace of mind and work space for those in the family who are working from home. For those of you who are not able to use a separate room, allow them to set up a "workspace" even if it is as basic as using your ironing board as a desk. Set your own "working hours" – you may not be able to work for 8.5 hours each day but you should also be mindful that you do not work more than is healthy. “Go” to work wearing your washed and ironed work clothes and shoes. Do everything that you would usually do when going to work - shower, makeup, hairstyle, shave/epilate, put perfume on. Make a "do not disturb" or "opening hours" sign to "hang" on the door of the home office. Do not drastically change your eating habits during your working hours. Involve the children in the design of the placard, so they will be empathetic. Maybe they will bother you less and can make their own placard for the time when they are learning online or playing. Make a plan with specific activities and scheduled hours to follow, including leisure time, sports and personal time.
4. When you “return” from work, put your pyjamas/home clothes and slippers on. You will now need to communicate more intensely with your family and children. The shorter workday and the time saved from commuting to your workplace will give you some free time, and you may find yourself wondering what to do. Keep in mind that it is children who suffer the most from the restrictions on going out and interacting with other children. You must now become their playmate. Remember what games you played as kids – blind man’s bluff, charades, reading books, board games, jigsaws, hide & seek, as well as fun quizzes to check out what your child has learned from their online lessons. (Remember that you shouldn’t always be the winner). Think creatively and share ideas with your loved ones. Set aside time and create space to play, even if it this means moving around furniture. Make sure that the playing time is not right before bedtime as the games will excite the kids. Before going to bed, it is better to read books and tell stories, and why not include personal family stories.
5. Brainstorm and exchange ideas for other activities with friends and family. You can also play games on video calls with them. Now would be an ideal opportunity to start or go back to reading fiction. You will come to realise that we are not reinventing the wheel. There have been pandemics before, but they have been slower moving as was the information about them. Now is the time for a new hobby, for organising photos, files, and those secret places where buttons, slips, business cards, pennies and other priceless artifacts are being gathered. Now is the time to reflect on your inner self. “If you can't get outside - get inside” (yourself). Now everyone has a unique chance to work on their “personal growth” for free with the best psychotherapist and healer – drawing from your own experience.
6. Let the kids make up their own games and partner them with as few restrictions as possible, such as "be careful not to break things" "try not to get dirty," "not like that, like this." Let the children be creative. Remember: A healthy child plays. The game itself is healing and therapeutic. Do not interfere in the child's games unless there is a risk to their life and health or you have been given a role in their game. Do not try to understand the game and make sense of it in the "right" adult world view, even if the game involves breaking toys, pushing, punishing toys, or anything else. Accept that children are smarter than us adults and do not need to be told that Little Red Riding Hood does not die in the wolf’s belly. They know that the story talks about something else through metaphors and symbols that you have forgotten but knew as a child! Let them play and just accompany them. In no case should you try to act as a psychotherapist. If you can't be in the "right" child world view in their play, be a silent observer at a theatre you don't understand.
7. Exercise, sign up for an online dance class, cooking, gardening, language training - use all the resources of the online world. Now they are free. They will soon be paid again. Don't wait until tomorrow. Quarantine will not end tomorrow or the next week, but it will surprise us like snow every year.
8. Have a romantic dinner, even if it means that during this time the children will have to play "prisoners" in another room. Be creative, but keep the children from harm. Do not neglect the power of intimate communication and maintain your body by giving it regular doses of happiness. It will thank you with better immunity.
9. For some couples, quarantine can mean a renaissance in relationships, reunion and teamwork, and the memory of other difficulties and crises experienced can unite them. Others will be confronted with the truth of the nightmare of living with an enemy. For some people, the alternative of getting infected with Covid-19 will be more of a rescue. Violence in some families will intensify. If you recognize yourself here, know that you are not alone. The law is on your side. Seek help from specialists and inform your loved ones. Specialists (hotlines, doctors, police, psychologists, social workers) are also available in times of emergency.
10. Those of you who notice in your child "weirdness", "insufficient normality" in their behaviour or if the way they dress should differ from your "image and likeness" or that of "society", or in other words, your child has characteristics of LGBT, now is the time to give them space to contact support groups and for you to get informed and participate in parent support groups. In no case should you stigmatize, correct, threaten, blackmail, belittle or reassure them that this is a phase that will pass. Unless you accept them unconditionally, being locked up with you will become unbearable. In such situations, suicidal thoughts and tendencies increase. Remember we need to stay healthy after Covid-19, but also normal, less depressed and most of all - alive.
11. Provide learning space and time for your children. Get them dressed in the morning and keep them neat and clean. Encourage them to maintain their hygiene. Set a good example - don't expect them to listen if you say one thing and do another. Figuratively speaking, there is no more sabotaging and demagogic way of educating children than giving them lectures on “the harms of smoking” while you smoke.
12. Explain to the children that these are now the new rules and everyone must follow them. For younger children, explain what the phrase "You need to" means by using an example from their experience: "you don't like to brush your hair and may cry while you do it, but you do it anyway", “you don't like to brush your teeth, but you brush them because you have to”, “you don't like getting a jag from the doctor, but when you do when you have to" and anything else that can be a clear example. Give your adult examples of "I don't want to, but I should." That's how they will believe you.
13. Make time for laughing and teasing. There are now plenty of jokes about the pandemic. Laugh. Laughter is health. Remember all the clichés that have stood throughout the centuries - "Laughter makes the world go round", "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger”, “I think therefore I am”, “To become the best version of myself, I have to give up my current idea of myself.” Be sure to say that you love and thank yourself. Be sure to thank your children as well. Stay healthy. Keep depression 6 feet away from you and your loved ones. Together we will succeed!
Recommendations for parents
How to talk to your child about Covid-19, quarantine and the coming months of major changes in all areas of life
!!! If you have not read the adult recommendations, go back and read and think about them. To take care of your child, you must be in a stable enough state of mind. It is no coincidence that in an aircraft, in the event of an emergency, the flight crew requires the parent to first put on an oxygen mask and then assist the child!
* Remember: The child who plays, creates and is mischievous is a healthy child!
1. This is an important conversation. Be informed by a reliable source about the current situation - WHO, legitimate media, or a professional community.
2. Once you've got your anxiety under control and are calm enough, talk with your children. You must be the container for their anxiety, not the other way around!
3. To explain the gravity of the situation to them, in no case should you start with the death of people - this will either scare them or distance them and the conversation will only take place in your head.
4. Find out what they know about the topic and upgrade the information according to their age. Explain to your children what is happening in an accessible way for them. For example: “Now there is a severe, not very well-known virus and to help the doctor cure the sick, we need to stay at home…Wash your hands…” and translate anything that WHO recommends into age appropriate language and provide examples. You can tell them about the red and white blood soldiers in the body that we all need to help do their job. Show them how to wash their hands.
5. Make sure your kids understand what a virus is. For example, if they have watched germ ads for toilet cleaners on TV clarify what they have in their head to ensure understanding.
If you have a code word (“Ouch”, or whatever your family vernacular is) about a dangerous place, electrical contact, or other dangers that is not the word "NO!", use it to tell your child not to touch risky surfaces when you need to leave the house. Do not expect that once you have said it, it will remain in the child's mind as the new law. Be realistic. Do not flood them with excessive information. Remember – you are their container, not the other way around.
6. Monitor your child's behaviour. Some children will be interested - they will ask you questions and partner in the conversation. Ask open-ended questions in order to determine and choose the right way to talk to them. Don’t say: Are you afraid? Did you hear that? Do you promise? Do say: What do you imagine? What would you do to help? What do we do when someone is sick? How do we keep ourselves from getting sick? Answer their questions first. Answers such as “I don't know”, “The doctors are working and they'll tell us first when the virus goes away” and “The policemen keep us safe” are completely sufficient and closest to the truth. Those children who are not interested - do not press them. However, make sure this is not a defensive reaction to fear they are experiencing. If you notice unusual behaviour or anxiety, consult a specialist. Most of us have been working online for a long time and there are already free consultation platforms during the state of emergency. Again, the child who plays, creates and is mischievous is a healthy child! Remember that children have coping mechanisms that we adults can envy. Read more about games in section 6 of adult recommendations
7. Help your child feel safe by not flooding them with details. Follow the crisis response protocol. You will need to recall your experience in extreme situations: inform; say that specialists are working to correct the problem; say it will take time, longer than we want, but it will not always be so; define the new rules; get back to the "normal" things and routines of the family. Give your children the opportunity to control what is dependent on them, and reduce their frustration that they cannot control anything else. Give them the right to feel how they feel without judging them. Everyone is sometimes angry, frustrated, tearful, jealous, sad or scared.
8. Speak calmly. Children always feel your mood and if you are not stable and balanced enough they will think that you are lying to them. Explain that most people who get Covid-19 have a cold and flu. Give them space to talk about their concerns. They might ask, "Will it happen to me?" Answer clearly. "Yes, it can happen to anyone, but children don’t get sick as easily." Do not fill their heads with statistics. You will not comfort them at all if you tell them that only the elderly are dying. The prospect of losing your beloved grandparents or you (if they see you as old or older) would instead horrify them. Encourage them to participate in supporting the medical community - stay at home, clap with everyone, participate in games that share good practices, let them come up with their own way of showing support and empathy. In times of social distancing, this is one way to come together.
9. Be sure that adolescents have access to secure sources of information. Talk to them in the same way as younger children, but do not underestimate or patronise them. Remember that teenagers are facing unanswered questions - “Who am I?", "What is the meaning of life?", "My parents do everything to annoy me", "Life sucks". They may be in a teenage depression, and now they need to grow up very quickly without the chance to rebel or run away from home. Talk to them honestly and remind them how to access sources of information that are safe and panic free. Now is the time to allow them to indulge in their preferred technology, but not too much. Don't let them shut down more than ever. Provide them with alternatives that would give them a sense of purpose - family assistance, they could help teachers on how to optimise the use of online learning or use everything they know from their own hundreds of hours spent on the internet that can be useful at this time of mass digital use. Allow them to find meaning and remind them how they can be useful.
Do not restrict their communication with peers. If there is only one computer in the household, include your older children in a computer usage schedule and allow them plenty of time. Now is not the time to apply penalties such as taking away a privilege such as their mobile phone or restricting internet usage. This does not mean giving them 24/7 access. You must continue to "supervise" the hygiene and censorship of internet use. If penalties are imposed for some reason, then they should be constructive. Do not undermine the dignity of the teenager and focus on rewarding them for what they are good at.
What the teenager doesn't want to hear from you is "Ask your mother, ask your father." Now, what they need more than anything is stable adults who don't ignore them. The teenager needs to know who is the master of the ship and that the ship is moving.
Teens need more privacy than anyone else. Give it to them. Be sensitive and do not enter their intimate space. Knock before invading their rooms, including respecting their needs to explore their own bodies.
Even if they deny being scared, let them know that you are there and you can talk to them at any time. Adolescents have idols - artists, athletes, singers, vloggers and influencers. Encourage them to watch their channels and their posts. Most of your children’s idols will be empathetic and make Covid-19 understandable, less boring than adult-language programmes. It may be time for you to get acquainted with the idols of your children and acknowledge that "hanging" on the internet will ultimately benefit them.
10. Empower children by giving them back control. Give them a personal example of specific things to bring back to their control - washing their hands, staying at home, work-life balance, exercise, sleeping, time for creativity and play, working from home, nursery or school from home. Help them make a schedule with specific activities and times. Show them yours too.
11. Educate your loved ones on how to talk to your children, especially when chatting to relatives online. They do not need to advise or add additional strain on your children with their own concerns. Remember, adults should be a container for children's concerns, not the other way around.
12. Let them feel how they feel and let them know that it is normal to be scared and stressed at times. It is important to know the facts in a simple language and that everything will eventually go away. Today, your children learn the most important lesson, and you remind yourself – “Things can be broken, but they can be fixed”.
psychologist, psychodrama therapist
*Photo sourced from Classic FM: https://www.classicfm.com/…/recreating-famous-paintings-hom…