I used to be a positive person. Since COVID and all the doom and gloom in everything I see, hear, and read, I feel like I am losing myself and finding it harder to stay positive and motivated. What should I do?
Thank you for sharing your concern with Blake’s Take.
People all over the world have experienced difficulties from COVID, and doom and gloom still linger in its wake. People are worried about another outbreak, more shutdowns, mandates, inflation, unemployment, fuel prices, food shortages, and the list goes on. In circumstances like this, it is hard to remain positive and motivated.
Moods fluctuate, and it is normal to experience depression during times of uncertainty. However, it is important to understand depression and realize when it becomes excessive. Some symptoms of depression are depressed mood, diminished interest or pleasure, significant weight loss, insomnia or hypersomnia, psychomotor agitation or retardation, fatigue or loss of energy, indecisiveness, feelings of worthlessness, and suicidal thoughts.
According to the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-5), experiencing five or more of these symptoms every day for a two-week period is the criteria for major depressive disorder. The World Health Organization estimates a 28.1% increase in the cases of major depression worldwide since the onset of COVID . If you feel like you meet these conditions or continue to have difficulty finding your pre-COVID positive motivated self, you may be experiencing major depression.
Besides the fear of COVID itself, isolation is another element of the outbreak that had a negative impact. According to a 1984 Journal of Social Psychology article by Rosenblatt et al., long-term isolation results in a negative state of mind called cabin fever.
Symptoms of cabin fever are anxiety, irritability, and restlessness. Many people claimed to have experienced these symptoms with the COVID lockdowns and closings. Some establishments continue to implement isolation practices, and every new COVID variant brings the possibility of a return to mandates and lockdowns. These practices and threats can make the return to normalcy seem unlikely. Anticipating an abnormal future could be why you are struggling to stay positive and motivated.
Another thing to consider is that you may be more conscious of doom and gloom after COVID because you are focused on the negative. In the previously mentioned article about cabin fever, Rosenblatt et al. also comment on this condition. Our mood is a direct reflection of the state of our surroundings. If all we see, hear, and read is doom and gloom, becoming pessimistic is inevitable. Their solution is to focus on our actual surroundings rather than what we are told to see. Media outlets are great at using predictions and fear to keep us tuned in, but it’s important to observe what is going on for ourselves.
All these conditions are common, and there are solutions to help you get back to your normal self. Steps to normalcy will vary depending on what is causing you to feel off. First, if you think there is a chance you are experiencing major depression, you should get professional help right away. Major depression is common and is treatable. If you think you are experiencing cabin fever from extended isolation, a simple change of scenery might be all you need. Finally, if you’re finding it hard to escape the doom and gloom, you will probably benefit from spending time away from all media outlets. This can be tough in a time where worldwide media is at your fingertips, but I have personally used this tactic and it works. Do whatever it takes to distance yourself from toxic energy.
Remember, you are not alone. The pandemic had a negative impact on everyone. Many like yourself are still dealing with the aftermath. It is okay to go through emotional changes but try to address them constructively. Take care of yourself mentally and physically. Surround yourself with positive energy and engage in activities that bring you happiness. For me, this includes exercising, spending time outdoors, and listening to music.
I hope this helps and wish you all the best in the days to come.
Rosenblatt, Paul C., Roxanne Marie Anderson and Patricia Johnson. “The Meaning of ‘Cabin Fever.’” Journal of Social Psychology 123 (1984): 43-53.