Before the pandemic, more than 40 million people suffered with depression, and now you can likely double that number, maybe triple it.
Here are five simple (for the most part) little things you can do to give your life a bit of a lift. They probably won't change your life forever, but they might make it easier in the moment, and right now, that's worth a lot.
• Get a pet. If you can't get a dog or a cat, consider a guinea pig. Why a guinea pig? Because they like being petted, and petting an animal is comforting for you, too. Kitties often like sitting in laps, and dogs love going on walks. Doing these things with your pet increases your bond, which will help to lessen your depression.
• Realize that being in a comfortable environment is a gift. Every day, acknowledge to yourself that you are fortunate to have a warm, dry place to live. Those little daily acknowledgments add up to gratitude, which has the power to help you feel better about your life. And if you feel the need to increase the comfort in your life, put the effort into finding it. Discomfort leads to discontent and unhappiness.
• Read. Whatever your preferred medium — books, newspapers, magazines, computers or e-readers — work it into your daily regimen. Spend at least 10 minutes on something fun to read — not your work, research or even mindless internet scrolling, which is not the same as reading. Neither is looking at things online that you wish you could buy. Get engaged in a story, romp through a new world and let your mind build a house there. Nonfiction is OK, too.
• Move. It is so easy not to do exercise, and now that you've proved that you can loaf about, it's time to make getting exercise a priority. There is no more accessible, affordable and effective antidepressant than physically moving. Even mild exercise, like walking 20 minutes a day, will make you feel better, allow you to do more and, who knows, you might even start to enjoy it.
• Give back. No matter how bad off you feel you are, someone is worse off. Anything you can do to help another person will make you feel better about yourself. It's rewarding to know that even though you have been struggling in your own life, you were able to reach out. That stuff stays with you.
You don't have to do all of this at once, but if you did, it probably wouldn't take that much time out of your day. On the other hand, it could add years to your life and help make the time that you do have more worthwhile. These are little things, baby steps, but if you take them one day at a time, they can add up to helping you just feel a little bit better.