Coping with depression in isolation

Take your seats for a lockdown Q&A

As the world around us changes and we’re having to adjust to a new way of life, people living with existing mental health conditions can find the switch up of routine a little harder than most. We were lucky enough to catch up with Danielle Hine, Health & Lifestyle Director for our Health & Beauty Magazine, about how she’s managing her depression during isolation. Stick around for some top tips and tricks!


What three things have been helping you through isolation?

Dressing up

“Even in my darkest days of depression, putting on a nice outfit and make-up was like wearing a protective suit of armour,” says Danielle. “In lockdown, I still dress up for work as it gives me a sense of normality. I take part in #dressupfriday (a trending hashtag on social media) and waft between my living room and kitchen in sequins and heels, shedding a trail of sparkle.”

Danielle posts her daily work outfits on social media too as a way to help maintain her routine. “It’s a good way to not stay in a make-up-stained bathrobe all week,” she adds.

Exercise

Exercise is great for lifting your mood as it helps to balance your body and mind. Social media is full of fitness fanatics using their time to help us feel good, and Danielle starts every day with a half hour online class. “No matter how much I want to stay in bed, I say to myself ‘you never regret a workout, you only regret not doing it.’” Lunchtime running has also helped to keep her feeling normal. “It really clears my head, mainly because I’m so busy concentrating on surviving it, I forget to feel anxious or stressed,” she says. If you’re not into running, why not try a walk at lunchtime or after work?

Grocery shopping

“Once a truly hated task, it’s now the highlight of my week!” If you’re able to get out and about to your local supermarket, doing the weekly shop is great for getting a little slice of normality back by interacting with others whilst social distancing of course! “I walk home lugging seven days’ of food and a bunch of flowers – my new obsession, feeling as happy as a pig in poo with all my treats,” she tells us.


Why do you think keeping a routine is important?

“I think it’s crucial to have structure and routine because it gives a sense of control in a world that’s lost it,” notes Danielle. “I get up at the same time for work and go to bed when I would have pre-lockdown, the only thing I’m doing more of is exercise.”


What have you found most difficult in lockdown?

“Aside from the distressing news about the rising death figures and seriously ill people, I’ve been struggling to get a handle on fear and anxiety about what’s going to happen post-pandemic,” Danielle adds. “I miss my family (I’m from Australia) and I worry I’m not going to be allowed to go home to see them for a long time!”


What's a fun thing you do each week?

“Every Friday night, my flatmates and I make cocktails, lay out snacks and watch one or two horror films – they’re less scary than what's going on all around us at the moment!”


Do you have any tips for someone struggling with their mental health right now?

“It’s crucial to get proper support and help urgently if you feel you need it – it’s still available, even during this crisis.” Remember, you’re not alone! You can always find help from your GP.

According to Danielle, managing your mental health is also about “finding the little boosts that give you enough of a lift to keep getting through your day.” 

Here are a few tips and tricks she recommends to help relieve the stress of lockdown life:

“Split your exercise regime up to benefit from those mood-lifting endorphins throughout the day.” Why not try a 30 minute morning class, a 20 minute lunchtime run and a walk after work a few times a week?

Switch up your social media feed and follow positive people and pages. “Animals make me melt into a puddle,” she confesses, “so I follow a lot of sweet and funny animal accounts.”

Lose yourself in doing something you love. Why not pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read for months, or how about trying your hand at baking?


One final piece of advice?

“Learn to live day by day instead of constantly thinking ahead and remember to celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they are.”  

If you’re struggling with your mental health during isolation, speak to your GP. You can also get in contact with mental health charities, too.