Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker, mental strength coach, and international bestselling author. She explains how social isolation, restrictions on activity, and limited contact with friends caused by the Covid-19 pandemic can increase the risk of depression. Morin recommends making time to chat with friends and family, exercising in any way you enjoy, and scheduling fun activities to look forward to in order to boost your mood. Many people felt OK during the first week or two of social distancing. But by now many people are experiencing a decline in mental health. And it’s no wonder why. 6 tips for your mental health during self-isolation Social distancing is the perfect recipe for depression. Staying indoors, less contact with people, and fewer fun activities are just some of the things that can increase your risk of depression. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to combat depression – even when options are more limited than usual. Here are some strategies that might improve your mental health while you’re social distancing. 1 Create opportunities for positive social interaction Social distancing means everything from happy hour to theatre outings has been cancelled. If you’re feeling like the abrupt halt of social life is taking a toll on your psychological well-being, you are not alone. Studies show socialising can help keep depression at bay. But it’s not just interacting with other humans that helps – it has to be positive social interaction. So avoid those heated political discussions on social media that leave you feeling angry and exhausted. Get proactive about your social interactions. Schedule a time to chat with friends, connect with family, and speak to positive people. Fortunately, “social interaction” doesn’t have to take place in person. Video chats and text messages can help lift your spirits as well. The key is to ensure these interactions are “positive”. 2 Exercise Physical activity has a huge impact on your psychological well-being. Studies show just 200 minutes of walking each week (about 3.5 hours) can prevent and reduce symptoms of depression. Of course, right now working out can be a little more complicated than usual. Most gyms are closed. And not everyone can get outside to exercise. A professional trainer’s guide to getting a free workout at home Fortunately, you can work out from home with relative ease and minimal equipment if you’re creative. There are plenty of fitness trainers who are teaching workout moves on social media. Download an app, find some videos, or just get moving while you watch TV. Moving your body is good for your mind. 3 Schedule fun activities Putting fun things in your schedule packs a powerful punch in the battle against depression. Therapists call it “behavioural activation” or “pleasant activity scheduling”, and there’s research that shows it’s effective in preventing and decreasing depression. Again, something “fun” may require a little more creativity than usual since your options are limited. But you might find planning ahead to watch a movie you’ve been meaning to see or scheduling time to bake something special is all it takes to boost your mood. The trick is to put it in your schedule. Planning ahead and actually putting it in your calendar give you a powerful psychological boost. Putting something fun in your schedule gives you something to look forward to, which improves your mood. Then, you get an additional boost in your mood when you do that fun thing. Finally, your mood will stay elevated for a bit when that activity is over because you’ll have created positive memories. 4 Change your language Victim language takes a toll on your mental health. Empowering language, however, will help you feel good. 7 underrated feelings and where to find them So rather than convince yourself that you’re “stuck at home with nothing to do”, remind yourself that you’re “staying home to keep everyone safer”. Remind yourself that it’s a choice you’re making right now because it’s the responsible thing to do for your own health as well as the health of others. And what you do with your time while you’re at home is completely up to you. That slight shift in mindset can make a big difference to your well-being. 5 Practise gratitude Want to be 25 per cent happier? Practise gratitude. A 2003 study found that counting your blessings, as opposed to your burdens, can give you an instant 25% per cent boost in happiness. The benefits to keeping a gratitude diary Gratitude has also been linked to a lengthy list of other benefits, ranging from higher self-esteem to better sleep. And the good news is that it’s one of the fastest and simplest ways to feel better. Whether you write in a gratitude journal, or you share the things you’re grateful for with your family over dinner, becoming more mindful of the good things in life makes you feel better. And if you want an extra boost in your mood, express gratitude toward someone else. Write a thank you letter to someone about why you appreciate them. You’ll feel happier – and so will that person. When to seek help If you find yourself sinking into depression despite your best effort to prevent it from happening, then seek professional help. Keep in mind that depression isn’t a sign of weakness. Just like you can’t always prevent physical health problems, you can’t always prevent mental health problems either. Talking about mental health issues is essential and should no longer be taboo You might call your doctor for advice about what to do next. Or you might contact a therapist. Right now many therapists are offering online or phone therapy as they’re practising social distancing themselves. This article was curated by Young Post . Better Life is the ultimate resource for enhancing your personal and professional life.