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A student doctor has shared his advice to help people deal with depression during the pandemic, urging them to set 'micro goals' to help them push through the day.
Canadian medical student Zachery Dereniowski regularly shares tips and insight on mental health issues under the TikTok handle @mdmotivator, including the lesser-known symptoms of depression and early indicators of burnout.
Dereniowski believes that social isolation and our lack of connection with others over the past year has seriously contributed to feelings of depression, anxiety and loneliness - also crediting the fact that we've become more 'self-aware' without the distractions we're used to relying on, now unable to 'escape ourselves with the business of life'.
Speaking to LADbible, Dereniowski said one thing many of us can do is to set what he calls 'micro goals', which is something that he's found hugely effective himself.
He explained: "This one was big for me this year. I noticed my emotions came in waves and I couldn't 'time block' when I am going to be feeling low. But, I became aware of whenever that mood would set in and I'd instantly set a 30 minute alarm. "
Giving an example, he continued: "Thursday night at 6.32pm and I start feeling low. I'd set an alarm for 7.02pm in which I allow myself to feel those deep, saddened emotions for 30 minutes.
"However, right when that alarm went off, I would complete a micro goal. Whether that's walk down the street, go in the shower, drink a glass of water, put my clothes in the laundry, etc. - something small that forces me to get out of that state.
"I found this effective in not allowing me to suppress my emotions, yet not stay in that state for the rest of the day."
He also advised that there are several things we can all do to help combat loneliness, including connecting with others in whatever we can and not being afraid to make new friends - even if it's just your next door neighbour.
Dereniowski, who is based in Australia, said: "I think the best place to start is to understand and acknowledge our loneliness. This self-awareness is difficult for so many because we are embarrassed to admit we are lonely. Additionally, sometimes our feelings of loneliness might be based on a social construct of what we believe our social life should look like.
"FaceTime/Call family and/or friends as often as we can. Always make time for some form of intimate connection with the ones we love. The times we are feeling the loneliest are the times we seem to need the connection the most.
"Make an effort to make new friends. Even if that means making friends with your neighbours. You'd be surprised at how even small talk with 'apparent strangers' can go a long way in shifting your mood and perspective.
"Get out of bed. I think this can be one of the hardest things for those facing loneliness and/or depression. As stated earlier, small micro goals, diffuser activities (sports, arts, cooking, etc.) or socializing with family/friends."
UOKM8? is a campaign by LADbible, featuring films and stories that provide advice and inspiration on mental health. Explore more here and don't suffer in silence. Let's talk mental health.
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