We are all going through difficult times. The self-isolation and disturbing news of COVID-19 suppresses our mood and can also have a negative impact on our health condition. However, some people, by virtue of their nature, easily tolerate the current condition, while others are more vulnerable to the tension of these circumstances.
My friend, David, was struggling mentally as he enjoys socialising and being around others. He especially misses talking to colleagues at work and something as simple as being out and about to grab lunch or coffee on a work break. David was worried about how long it might be before things will go back to normal. Although he works for a business he was worried about what decreased revenue for the business may mean for his job security potentially further down the track if things don’t improve economically. Being at home made David worry more.
He is one of those people that require their close one’s support. I gave it to him because I saw that his mental health and wellbeing were in real danger. He’s a good person and a smart one but that doesn’t mean he isn’t susceptible to having tough times.
This is what I did to draw him out of his problems with anxiety and depression during the current coronavirus imposed self-isolation.
1. I cheered him up
It seems to be too simple: to say things like, “it’s all going to be okay.” However, that’s exactly what some people need: to hear reassurance. I didn’t even try to be over-complicated with reasoning and proof.
He just needed to hear an authoritative opinion, and he was ready to be reassured by my words. I gave him an alternative look at the situation; what is important is not the circumstances themselves, but how you choose to see them. Our forced isolation can be useful in certain aspects. We can spend time on self-development, reading, and meditation.
We can start doing things that we would never have time for with our previous lifestyle. I would video call him regularly.
I told my friend to practice sports every day instead of staying focused on his feelings. Now, three times a week he workouts hard for 1.5 hours in his house. On other days, he walks for 1 hour outside during the time that there are few people on the street.
3. Reading books
I ordered a few books for David. All I needed to do was to be diligent with hygienic treatment when I received it. He is not a great reader, but I picked topics that he likes: fishing and cars.
He is also a slow reader and a lazy one. So, I taught him how to download a program that reads PDF files by voice and how to use it. He just follows the text with his eyes while the robotic voice reproduces it. Thus, he managed to finish one book within a week.
4. Spirituality and gratitude
While I am an agnostic, my friend is a Christian. In this way, I reminded him that it is his religion that proscribes him to be grateful for what he has. I personally address my gratitude to life when I think about good things that happen to me.
David is a hard worker. He isn’t used to staying at home for a long period of time. He didn’t know a lot of options on how to entertain yourself at home. My friend thought that the only way to have fun is to go somewhere, whereas at home you can do very few fun things.
Fortunately, I have been a homebody for my whole life. I know ways to enjoy the time spent in solitude. I showed him how to find movies, TV series, and music that he would like to watch or listen to.
Once, I called David via Skype and asked him: what topics is he interested in, and what he always wanted to know but didn’t have time for? He listed topics and I wrote them down. In the end, we had a long list of different amazing hobbies and niches like cycling and hiking and wild tribes which he could indulge in.
Then we found bloggers, channels, and videos on every one of these topics. He subscribed to channels and added videos to the playlist.
6. Social interaction
Through all these efforts, I managed to help my friend’s mental health and wellbeing condition and his wellbeing began to improve. I think the most powerful method that I applied to him is my attention, as well as the time that we were hanging out together.
I also called our mutual friends and asked them to find time to call David and support him. After all, they all have more spare-time than in the past.
If you know that someone you love may need your help through a difficult situation, call them, set aside time for them. These events will not last forever.
Simon Choi is a mental health advocate and small business founder. He founded Standout Bands, an Apple Watch Bands distributor (third party) which supports Beyond Blue and allows him to write for his mental health blog, Healthy Minds. Simon is particularly passionate about supporting those experiencing depression. Currently, Simon is supporting those struggling as a result of COVID-19 related mental health issues.