I’ve written before about my struggles with anxiety and depression. This article explains how I am able to manage my depression without prescription drugs. But today I want to focus on the self-care habits I include in my daily and weekly routine that manage my depression. I also want to share with you what self-care is, why it’s difficult when fighting depression, and why it can help so much with depression.
What is Self-Care?
Simply put, self-care is taking care of yourself. This includes caring for your daily necessities, such as eating and drinking, getting enough sleep, and grooming yourself. But it also includes figuring out your needs for nurturing yourself and keeping yourself mentally and physically healthy. Often this means carving out time for yourself to work on a hobby, read a book, or engage in another activity you enjoy. These activities can boost your mood and replenish you mentally and physically.
Why is all of this helpful with depression and anxiety? I’m not going to go into a list of symptoms here, but depression can often leave you feeling drained. It can be difficult to function, interact with people, and take care of your basic needs. When fighting depression, it’s hard to even think about self-care. But caring for yourself goes a long way to boosting your mood and helping you feel better about yourself and the situation.Why is self-care so important for managing depression? How can you get started? What are some self-care ideas you can put into practice?Click To Tweet
How to Get Started
Begin by identifying the things that you enjoy. It could be something like taking a bubble bath, spending time with your pets, or reading a book. Personally I love to read and craft. But self-care can also include things like taking a walk, enjoying a cup of tea, or watching your favorite movie. The point is to figure out what you enjoy and what helps you to feel better.
Then make a list of those things to refer back to. You don’t have to do everything on the list every day, but having it handy will make it easier when you get to the point of not knowing what to do. Make time for one or two of the things on your list each day. Start small. Don’t make it a marathon. As you do something small from your list, you’ll get a mini-boost. This in turn will help you to work on bigger or harder items.
Share your list with someone you trust and who supports you. When you feel like you need help, that person can be there to give you ideas and help you get started. A good support system is essential to managing depression.
Make self-care a priority. This may mean cutting out certain activities or simply saying no sometimes. This isn’t easy because our lifestyles tend to keep us pretty busy. But this really just adds more stress to our lives, and can make depression worse. Prioritizing is key.
This is a list of some of the self-care ideas I put into practice for myself. I don’t do all of them daily, or even weekly, but having a list of things I enjoy that helps me to reset is a great reference. This list is just to give you some ideas and figure out what works for you. Each of us is different, and what works for one person doesn’t always work for another.
- Get dressed everyday. It’s convenient and comfortable to stay in your pajamas or sweats all day, and there’s nothing wrong with that once in a while. But making yourself look presentable works wonders on the mood. Put on a little makeup if you like. Even if I’m not going out, keeping up with my appearance always makes me feel more put together.
- Diffuse mood-boosting essential oils into the room. I do this almost daily and am amazed at how beneficial essential oils are for me.
- Sit outside while enjoying your morning coffee or breakfast. Leave your phone inside. Disconnecting and just enjoying the outdoors has so many benefits.
- Play music that you enjoy. I like instrumental or music that is more on the mellow side.
- Enjoy a detoxing foot soak. I have a massaging foot bath that is amazing! I add epsom salts and essential oils. Not only does it make my feet feel great, it has many health benefits.
- Give yourself a face mask. This post includes a face mask that I make myself. I might do this once or twice a week. Not only does it leave my skin looking great, but I always feel good when I look good.
- Try to keep your house or room clean. It isn’t easy to feel like doing housework when you’re fighting depression. Just finishing one or two chores, though, will improve your mood because it improves your environment.
- Do something creative or solve a puzzle. I try to do this every day, whether it’s writing, working a sudoku puzzle, playing a video game, or working on a craft project. Being creative can be a distraction, but it also gives you a sense of accomplishment. Learning a new skill or craft can give you that same sense, too.
- Keep up with your daily health routine. For me, this includes taking my vitamins, brushing my teeth, getting enough sleep, even something small like putting on lotion. The effects may not be so visible, but they are there.
- Spend time with a friend who supports you, knows what you are going through, and that you can talk with openly. We get so busy that it’s easy to neglect friendships or only connect through social media. But that’s not a real connection. Even having a cup of coffee together and catching up is a huge mood-booster.
- Keep a journal. I don’t write in my journal every day, but I find that when a particularly bad mood or memory comes up, writing it out purges it from my mind. That doesn’t mean it’s gone or that it won’t come up again, but I often find that writing it down takes some of the intensity out of it. You can do this in a paper notebook or a digital one.
- Spend time with your pets. We have 5 dogs, 5 cats, and 12 chickens. Spending time playing with my dogs and cats is a big mood-booster for me. And there’s something therapeutic about watching our chickens. I can’t even explain it, but I do enjoy them. Plus there’s a sense of accomplishment in caring for them and getting our breakfast in return.
- Spend some time outside. I try to do this every day as well. Take a short walk (or a long one if you’re up for it), watch the sunset, or just sit outside and soak up some sun.
- Watch a show or movie you love. These days it’s easy to get caught up in binge-watching Netflix, and this really isn’t healthy. But there’s nothing wrong with enjoying an old favorite or finding something new to enjoy. I love classic movies. (Read about some of my favorites here.)
- Take a shower. I like to shower every evening before bed. On a related note, keep your sheets and bedding clean. They should be washed once a week. There’s something so satisfying about being clean and sliding in between clean sheets.
- Make a sleepy time spray. Mix water, witch hazel, and a few drops of lavender oil in a spray bottle. Spritz your sheets and pillows right before bed. Not only does it smell good, but the lavender will help you to sleep.
- Help someone else. This is tough when you feel like you can’t even take care of yourself. But helping someone in need, whether it’s a friend who needs help or volunteering, can take your mind off of what you’re going through.
- Get a massage. I don’t do this nearly as often as I’d like. Massage can help you relax and has many health benefits. It’s not just to pamper yourself.
- Get some exercise. It doesn’t have to be intense or long. Even 15 minutes of stretching will release mood-boosting hormones. It can even give you more energy and help you sleep better. Ideally I would like to work out every day, but sometimes once or twice a week is all I can manage. (Read ideas for making time to workout here.)
- Cook something new. I love to cook, and finding new dishes to make and enjoy makes me happy. Plus my husband seems to like my cooking, and cooking for someone else is rewarding.
- Try to snack healthy. This isn’t to say don’t enjoy the occasional treat (I love chocolate!), but eating healthier nourishes both mind and body. This post has plenty of great healthy snacking ideas.
How do you make time to care for yourself? What do you enjoy? Let me know in the comments below, then read more: