Getting out of bed :: the challenges of anxiety and depression during isolation

Written by Joseph Fallon

Why I’ve Been Struggling to Get Out of Bed

Getting out of bed is no easy task on an ordinary day, but as we continue to face an admittedly terrible situation in the world around us [COVID-19], I feel as though I needed to address the simple concept of getting out of bed.

With that being said, I’ve been struggling lately. I won’t lie; it’s been very hard for me to keep a straight face after having been told to isolate myself for almost two months. I had just been getting myself together, finally getting the help I needed and taking the right steps to make good lifestyle changes. It’s been a fight not to slide back into the old habits that used to define me in a negative way, because I have way too much time to think and a limited amount of willpower and determination to concentrate on the good things around me.

If I’m not careful, I’m very prone to letting my head get the best of me. Without any distractions or things to do, I’m that much more susceptible to my most negative and self-critical thoughts. It’s the plight almost all of us battling anxiety and depression are facing as the country shuts down and orders its residents to stay home.


The Dangers of Having Too Much Free Time

With all of the free time we have on our hands, it’s becoming increasingly more and more tempting to take the easy way out. After all, there’s nobody watching us anymore, no real structure to what we’re supposed to do on any given day, and no short-term incentive for us to keep going through the motions. My mental health has certainly taken a beating since I received news of the government-imposed stay-at-home orders handed out to New York City’s residents back in March. Of course, social distancing and staying at home are both necessary evils in these times, but to neglect the drastically negative impact they are having on our collective mental health would be ignorant.

In order to deal with the crippling loneliness of isolation and the seemingly endless stream of bad news coming at us from every conceivable angle, I have found it necessary to stick as closely as I can to a daily routine. Without having some kind of structure in place for my day-to-day existence, even if it is self-imposed, I will go absolutely bonkers. So, I get up around the same time every single morning. I make myself something to eat, take my medicine, and have a few glasses of water to get myself ready for the day. Usually I’ll go into my backyard and train for twenty or so minutes, and from there I’ll set out on my goal of Accomplishing One Thing per day.


Getting the Ball Rolling

For me, getting the ball rolling is the hardest part about being productive and feeling good about myself instead of turning into an anxious, frenzied, self-pitying mess – once I’ve completed something simple and accomplished my one “thing” for the day, I feel much more prepared to take on the rest of my to-do list. Oftentimes, I also feel good for having done something in spite of not really wanting to do anything. I feel less anxious, more confident, less sad, and more motivated at least 7 times out of every 10 I decide to get up and do something instead of staring at the wall.


Acting Opposite to How You Feel

Acting opposite to how you feel on a bad day might not always make you feel better immediately, but it’s worked for me enough times to recommend the strategy, and it always works in the long run. Even on my worst, most anxiety-filled days, I’ve been able to pull it together to a degree and accomplish something, no matter how minuscule, by taking it slow and giving myself time to breathe. Recognizing that you don’t have to do literally everything all day long while in quarantine is important, too. There’s always later on, we will all have an abundance of free time on our hands for the foreseeable future, and you will always do a better job handling something you need to get done when you’re not emotionally charged.

Getting out of bed is the first step towards having a really good day. Is it a challenge? Absolutely. Is the possibility of feeling good about yourself, even if only for a moment, worth it? You’ll never know if you don’t take the first step.


Image credit: cottonbro from Pexels


Joseph Fallon: I don’t normally write about these kinds of things, but I wanted to write this piece to reach out to anybody who might really be feeling the struggles of isolation [during COVID-19] – the people living in abusive households and in other circumstances that would be absolutely terrifying during a normal time, let alone right now. I know the struggle is real, but if I haven’t given up I don’t think you should either.

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