9 Easy Self-Care Tips for When You’re Depressed
“Self-care is how you get your power back.”– Lalah Delia
We all hear about the importance of taking care of yourself. And how the relationship that you have with yourself is the most important one of your life. But for some, putting yourself first doesn’t come naturally or it isn’t always easy to find the time. Life often gets in the way and before you know it, another day is gone.
Taking care of yourself when you are in the depths of a dark depression? Now that’s a whole other ballgame. You can barely function as it is. All you can do is just lay there. Your mind torments you day in and day out. The last thing you want to think about is taking care of yourself.
Over the years, I’ve been through several bouts of depression and have tried so many things to help alleviate the sting that often accompanies it. Yet there are several that I find I keep coming back to. While these may not work for everyone, consider some of the easy self care tips below that have helped me in my most trying times.
1. Get Out of Bed
I’ve been there. Those days when you can’t even crawl out of bed. The moment when you realize that your bedroom has literally become your entire world. I’ve had too many of those days to count. But one thing I have come to learn is that the simple act of getting out of bed can be quite liberating.
Make a point to get out of your bed each and every day. Push off those covers, plant your feet on the floor, and leave the room. That’s all that is needed at that moment if that’s all you can do. At the very least, you’ll feel more accomplished than you did the day before, and that alone can make you feel a little bit better. If you keep this simple promise to yourself even in your darkest days, within time, you will start to notice a shift.
2. Take Care of Your Hygiene
If you struggle with getting out of bed, it can be even more daunting to think about taking care of your personal hygiene. For me, my personal hygiene suffered the most whenever my depression was at its worst. And quite frankly, it’s the most embarrassing symptom for me to admit to. I already had such a difficult time getting out of bed, how could I possibly have the energy to take a shower?
Remember that starting small is key. If you don’t have it in you to take a shower or a bath, start with brushing your teeth. If washing your face sounds like too much, use your favorite facial wipes instead. The point is to start small and gradually build up your daily hygiene routine again. You will get there again with time, patience, and practicing compassion for yourself.
3. Engage Your Senses
During all my years of therapy, one thing that has always been suggested to me when I felt like I was losing touch was to prioritize engaging my senses (hearing, touching, seeing, tasting, and smelling). It seems too easy, but after trying it a few times, I have found it really does help.
Look for things that you already enjoy to make it easier. My go to for engaging my senses is to listen to music. You can also find a really cool pillow or blanket that feels nice to the touch. Scroll through nature or travel pictures online. Indulge in some of your favorite comfort foods. Keep a bottle of your favorite essential oil on your nightstand that you can smell from time to time (lavender is my personal fav).
4. Step Outside
If you’ve succeeded with getting out of bed, consider opening the front door and stepping outside. Just the simple act of walking over a threshold can change the energy around you. Anytime I feel like I’m going crazy, I know I’ve spent too much time indoors. So I try to take a moment to get some fresh air.
You don’t have to stay out for too long. A couple of minutes will do if that’s all you have in you. Taking in nature will help you get out of your head and provide some space for peace to flow in.
5. Just Breathe
When my depression was in full force, usually my anxiety was too. I’m anxious that I’m depressed and depressed that I’m always anxious. My chest starts to hurt and that in itself freaks me out. My mind begins to race a million miles a second and sometimes I start feeling like I can’t breathe. To help ground myself, I like to focus on my breathing.
I personally like to use 4x4x4x4 breathing, also known as “box breathing”. This is an effective and easy breathing exercise that you can use wherever you are. While sitting upright is best, you can do this laying down too.
Begin by inhaling air into your lungs to the count of four. Then, hold your breath for four counts. Next, exhale to the count of four. And lastly, hold your breath for another four counts. Then repeat until done. Remember, it’s all in the breath. That is where we get back to our true selves.
6. Be Kind to Yourself
When you’re depressed, you’re stuck in this world of negativity and hopelessness. Your thoughts become obsessive and suddenly you find yourself in a downward spiral that you can’t get out of. Personally, I have thoughts like, “you’re not enough!”, “you’re crazy!”, or “you’re lazy!” I eventually learned that I was shaming myself. It had become second nature and I simply wasn’t aware that it was happening.
Instead of continuously beating yourself up like I did, learn to be kind to yourself. It won’t be easy, especially if it’s something you’ve done your entire life. I work at it every day and still slip up often. It’s a tough habit to break.
But over the years, I have found speaking certain affirmations to be helpful (out loud or in my head). Find some positive affirmations that speak to you and recite these to yourself often. Some of my favorites are:
- I am beautiful
- I am strong
- I am worthy
- I accept myself
- I am in control of my thoughts
- I am safe
- I deserve happiness
- I love myself
- I am resilient
- I am needed
- and my absolute favorite, I am enough
For some, it may seem awkward or feel silly to recite affirmations. Or you might not believe any of it to be true. But if you practice as often as you can, you will begin to feel more confident and better about yourself over time.
7. Be Mindful
Mindfulness is a practice that brings your awareness to the present moment. But more often than not, depression has you stuck in the past or worried about the future. By practicing mindfulness, the present moment takes precedence of every worry or fear. If you can get through the next second, the next minute, or the next hour; then getting through the next day, week, or year is possible too.
The easiest way to be more mindful is to pay attention to the activities you are already doing. For example, if you’re taking a walk, notice the way the ground feels after each and every step. Washing your hands? Become aware of the way the water and soap feel as you are rubbing your hands together. If you’re taking a shower, pay attention to the way the water hits your body. Be fully present and aware of what is happening right now rather than what has happened or what is to come.
8. Reach Out to a Friend or Family Member
If you’re anything like me, the last thing you want to do when you’re in a dark place is to talk to someone. In those moments, picking up the phone or heading over to a friend’s house can be a tough one even for social butterflies. However, humans are social by nature. And eventually, staying connected to others is an important need that tends to show up for all of us.
Start small if you can’t deal with a face-to-face conversation right now. Send a simple text or a DM to someone in your life that you trust. Tell them how you’re feeling. Let them know that you’re struggling. At the very least, your shoulders won’t feel so heavy once some of the weight has been lifted off of them.
9. Journal Your Thoughts
Don’t have it in you or feel comfortable to talk with someone at the moment? Write down what you’re feeling instead. Journaling is a great way to get all those obsessive thoughts out of your head without any judgment. There are a few different and easy ways to journal. You can choose to keep a physical journal or you can keep one on your phone, tablet, or computer.
Personally, I prefer using pen and paper rather than typing out my thoughts. There’s just something about physically writing my thoughts down on paper versus typing them out. It is definitely more of a release for me. In the end, what works for you is what’s best. Try both paper and electronic to see which method you prefer.
If you struggle with depression, it can be easy to forget about yourself. But in order to rise above the pain, you have to remember to take care of yourself along the way. And taking baby steps is perfectly fine. In fact, it’s encouraged! Pick one thing from this list and commit to just that one thing. Then, once you have mastered that one thing, choose another.
After reading this, did you try any of the above tips? How did it go? Do you have any ideas that have worked for you that might help others as well? Please share – – I would love to hear from you!