Amid the memes, virus statistics and shelter in place orders my Facebook feed is almost hopeless. My mom, of all people, reminded me today that I need to keep an eye on my mental health.

This unprecedented time has brought up a myriad of challenges. The one I’d like to focus on is how the shelter in place orders have affected our mental health. As a husband to a stay at home mom and father to a homeschooled child – 3 now that school’s out – I can attest to the need for keeping busy while most of your time is spent at home. Before COVID – 19 that meant going places and interacting with other people. That’s no longer a great option.

For those that don’t know me well enough, I’m a disabled veteran. Specifics aren’t important, just know it’s mental health-related. I’m susceptible to falling into a deep depression. No need for concern, I’m filled with joy because of my savior Jesus Christ. But I do have an underlying medical condition that brings me to a place I don’t like too often.

Those that are new to staying at home or have never experienced depression can find themselves facing uncharted territory. But with those that have lived with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health ailments have limited outlets for managing their conditions.

So what’s there to do?

Watch for the signs:

a. sleeping too much

b. spending too much time watching TV or your phone

c. isolating further than what’s necessary to stay safe

d. finding things that normally make you happy aren’t as satisfying

e. thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself or others.

Keep busy! The sense of accomplishment does wonders for self-esteem. There are tons to do around the house that you’re putting off. Get it done.

Talk to someone. Call a friend you haven’t seen in awhile and catch up. Check-in on a loved one. Do not just text or chat, hearing another voice is good for you.

Get outside. Get some sun Vitamin D, Serotonin, and other science stuff.

Exercise. Walking with music keeps the extra self-destructive thoughts from getting the better of you.

Tend to your spiritual needs.

a. Read your bible or find one online.

b. Pray for yourself.

c. Pray for others. It’s hard to feel down when you are hopeful for others.

More on this can be found on the CDC’s website. If you need help coping there a number of therapists in town that are offering telephonic sessions. There are a number of pastors in town that can counsel you and pray with you. If you are having thoughts of suicide or hurting someone call 911.

The important thing is to know that you are not alone.