First corona virus and now wildfires; No end in sight for California’s mental health woes

California is once again struggling to keep sane as two of the vilest wildfires (Creek Fire and the North Complex Fire) ravage through the state. With some parts of the state like California bay area looking like Mars – all orange and red, ash raining down, and citizens choosing to stay mostly indoors – there is a steady uptick in the number of people feeling depressed, lonely and anxiety-stricken.

The air quality in California is definitely the worst that the state has experienced in decades and that adds to the chaos. Earlier in the year, when the pandemic wreaked havoc, there was still an opportunity for one to take a walk outdoors whenever one felt frustrated. But with the poor air quality nowadays, that does not seem like an option anymore. So those who were lonely earlier, are now even more isolated. The inability to go out and right now even breathe fresh air has added to the gloomy atmosphere leading Californians to feel anxious and hopeless.

Dealing with depression and anxiety

So how is one supposed to cope with two calamities and yet keep sane? Here are some time-tested tricks to keep oneself occupied, thereby mitigating the symptoms of depression or anxiety.

  • Maintaining a healthy schedule: Just because you are forced to be indoors does not mean that you should be lounging around in pajamas. Maintain a healthy and structured schedule – the kind you had earlier. Try cooking more meals instead of ordering a takeaway every day.
  • Taking a break from social media and television: One of the greatest aggravators of a mental health condition is social media. So, to protect your sanity, keep away from it. If that is not possible then place a limit on the amount of time you spend on it. You should also learn to take things with a pinch of salt and not believe everything that you see on social media.
  • Completing daily responsibilities: It is important to complete daily responsibilities like getting up, feeding yourself, bathing, etc. For those who have pets, do not forget to feed the pet because you are depressed or sad. Pets like children are a great source of joy. A dog or a cat keeps depression and other mental health disorders at bay. You can also explore the option of adopting one during the lockdown.
  • Adequate sleeping: One of the fundamental blocks of a life free from mental health problems is getting a sound sleep every night. When one sleeps, one heals – psychologically as well as physically. So try to get the recommended 8 hours of restful sleep.
  • Avoiding drug and substance abuse: Using drugs and alcohol during these difficult times can throw you in a vicious cycle of abuse. This can be hard to counter and come out of.
  • Staying away from alcohol: Just because alcohol is easily available and socially accepted in the society, it does not mean that you should indulge in it. Practice restraint when it comes to alcohol.
  • Taking up a hobby: If you are passionate about something, now is the time to explore it further. Spend time doing what you like.
  • Keeping in touch: Try to keep in touch with your loved ones via the numerous video calling apps available online. Being trapped at home does not mean that you cannot connect with them online. Granted it does not feel the same, but you can still feel the satisfaction of seeing them and knowing that they are safe.
  • Watching humorous shows: If you are feeling sad or lonely, it would help to watch a comedy. Instead of watching a whodunit or a tragedy, watching a kids cartoon or a re-run of light programs like Friends or How I Met Your Mother could help keep your spirits high.
  • Checking on loved ones: As parents, you can check on your children from time to time and vice versa. Do they seem more reserved lately? Do they feel inclined to sleep all the day and are sluggish and have no desire to engage in any conversation or activity. If yes, you need to step in, and take things in your hand. Such symptoms are classical examples of how a depression episode manifests.
  • Refraining from binge watching web series: Do not binge watch, it is bad for your mental health and wreaks havoc on physical health. One of the most probable causes of depression and anxiety is over dependence on electronic media. Allocate a time that you can spend watching electronic media.

Taking a step towards a better life

If in spite of following all these tips, you notice yourself or a loved one feeling hopeless, then take action. The right time to seek help for mental health is when the symptoms linger for a couple of weeks or more or when the symptoms interfere with routine life. While talk therapy and antidepressant medications coupled with mental health programs could help a person deal with mild or low-grade depression, a chronic case would require a more intensive approach.

At Medical Concierge, a Gold Seal accredited mental health treatment center, we understand that the current situation is not normal. We have, therefore redefined our mental health services to suit the COVID-19 situation to help overcome mental health disorders. For more information about how we can help you, call our 24/7 helpline number 877-636-0042 and speak with a representative. Alternatively, you can also chat with an admission counselor for further details.

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