depression amid covid blog

How to Help Patients Manage Anxiety and Depression Amid COVID-19

Social isolation, frightening news reports, and fear around contracting coronavirus. All have increased stress levels tremendously.

Do your patients have trouble sleeping, lack energy, or have mood swings? They may be developing situational anxiety or depression. 

Along with recommending they seek help from a mental health professional, you can also show your patients self-care habits that help reduce stress.

Teach Patients the Power of Mindfulness

People get anxious when they worry about the future, and they become depressed when they dwell on the past. But when they live in the present moment, worries and regrets will melt away. 

Studies have found that meditation can reduce pain, increase quality of life and positively change the cognitive functioning of the brain. A recent study shows that even a short introduction to meditation can reduce negative feelings

The challenge is in getting the mind to come back to the present moment instead of wandering into the past or jumping into the future. 

You can recommend the meditation timer in the Well World app to your patients to get them started. You can also include a guided meditation or mindfulness instruction. Record your instructions in a video, and upload to your plan for your patients to access in the app. 

Have them sit for 5 minutes a day to start, and teach them to focus on their breath. As they get used to meditating, have them increase the amount of time they spend sitting each day. 

If they have trouble staying focused, you can teach them to silently repeat a mantra as they breathe. A simple one is “Breathe in peace, breathe out worry.”

And if your patients prefer movement to sit, you can recommend mindful walking or exercises that integrate movement and meditation such as yoga or tai chi. 

Encourage Patients to Practice Green Bathing

It is easy to forget our place in the world when we live plugged into technology and modern life. Many of us work on computers. We live sealed in climate-controlled houses or apartment buildings. We travel in air-conditioned cars. 

But we humans are animals that are part of the natural world. We are nature. That’s why walking in the woods, swimming in the ocean and climbing up mountains feel so good. 

Studies have shown that green bathing by walking through the forest can lower cortisol levels. Living near green spaces can reduce the risk of chronic conditions. A review of nature therapy also found that greenery helps people physically relax and boost weakened immune functions to help prevent diseases. 

Even looking at greenery can promote healing; a study of hospital patients found that those who could see plants or trees from their window recovered faster than those staying in rooms facing brick walls. That’s why more hospitals are adding gardens to their design. 

Your patients can lower their stress levels by spending time in local parks or in their backyard. Walking or exercising in nature can support both mental and physical health. Gardening can feed two birds with one seed: enjoying more time outside while also watching the fruits of their labor blossom into flowers or produce food. 

If they can maintain social distance, you can recommend patients go on overnight camping trips or on day hikes. Or why not camp out in their own back yard! Sleeping on the ground or walking barefoot can help patients feel more grounded and connected to planet earth.

Have Patients Tend to Sleep Hygiene

Your patients may have difficulty sleeping if they have high levels of anxiety or mood swings, and especially if they are watching more television and news reports. 

To help them get better sleep you can recommend: 

  • Having their last caffeinated beverage by noon each day
  • Having their last meal 3 hours before going to bed
  • Getting off laptops, cell phones and TV at least 1-2 hours before turning in 
  • Using amber glasses to block blue light if they have a hard time winding down
  • A regular sleep schedule – get into bed by 10 or 11 pm, wake up at 6 or 7 am each day
  • Reading a paper book (notebook) before bed

If they still have trouble sleeping, you may want to recommend supplements that can support sleep and balance moods. 

  • Melatonin – naturally produced by the pineal gland in the brain at night, studies have found that supplementing with it can help people overcome jet lag, fall asleep faster and stay asleep
  • L-Theanine – This amino acid which is found in tea leaves, has been found to improve sleep in humans
  • GABA (gamma butyric acid) – a naturally occurring chemical compound found in the brain, which has been found to help people fall asleep faster and have better quality sleep

In your Well World practitioner portal, you can prescribe supplements that can support a healthier mood balance and better sleep. Some good choices include:

  • Liposomal Neurocalm™  – which contains a unique blend of both GABA and L-theanine to support mental calm and a healthy response to stress.
  • 5-HTP Supreme™ – contains a synergistic formula of 5-hydroxytryptophan (100 mg) and vitamin B6 (20 mg) which may be used during the day to support healthy mood or appetite, or at bedtime to support sleep.

Overcoming anxiety, mood swings and depression may require support from a mental health professional. As a coach, you can support that process by teaching your patients how to practice mental and emotional self-care. 

If Your Client is in Trouble

If someone you know is struggling emotionally or having a hard time, you can be the difference in getting them the help they need.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. Call 1-800-273-8255