10 Self-Care Strategies When You Are Depressed
This is a post I've been wanting to write for a long time, and only now do I feel comfortable expressing myself freely. Self-Care is one of those things we take for granted. What do I mean by that? Getting up, brushing your teeth, brushing your hair, having a shower, putting on fresh clothes and going about your day like a normal person.
Unfortunately, when you hit rock bottom for whatever reason, a bereavement, break-up from a relationship, being let go from your job etc. it's really hard to do the self-care thing and figure out a way to move on and get past the event. Simple tasks such as getting out of bed, brushing your teeth and even going outside to meet friends to socialise with can become monumental and daunting. You find yourself making excuses to stay in and wallow because it's easier than being told to buck up and get over it.
This is not a one-time thing, it's not so easy to get over it without properly processing, and if left unchecked it can have a huge strain on your life and stop you from living the way you want to. Unfortunately, I've been a victim of this as well. I won't go into specifics but it has had a major impact on my life and only now do I feel like I'm able to see the light at the end of the tunnel alhamdulillah. It's been a rocky road, but with support and implementing the techniques I will share here today, here are 10 ways to implement self-care strategies when you are depressed, suffer from anxiety, panic attacks or any kind of mood disorder.
1. Identify the problem
First of all, identify the problem. What is causing you to feel the way you feel? Is it a major event or has it been a slow build-up to get to this stage? Sometimes, it's something that has been building up for a while and you get to the point where you can't see the point of existing when there is no happiness or cause to smile anymore. And that's OK. It's OK to feel this way. Not every day is going to be fun or filled with major achievements. Don't let anyone tell you it's not OK to feel the way you feel. Everyone deals with things differently, and sometimes, it's not so easy to identify the problem.
2. Set a time limit for wallowing
I'm giving you permission to wallow. Wallow for a day, a week, a month, 6 months, a year, but have a time limit as to when you will stop feeling like this. I tried and failed to "get myself together" time and time again, and now I know it's time to stop wallowing. If you don't have a time limit, a month can turn into a year, which can turn into 2 years and you find yourself wondering why everyone is moving on and you're stuck where you were 2 years ago.
3. Ask for help
This is the tricky one. Everyone's threshold is different. What might take someone a week to get over, may impact your life for a year. If you are finding that you're not able to do the same things as before or enjoy life as much as you want to, then ask for help. Don't go to friends for help unless they're trained to deal with your specific issues. Friends can be an excellent support, but you shouldn't rely on them as a crutch instead of seeking professional help. You won't always like their advice, and you may lash out. Better to get professional help and then seek support from understanding friends to get you back to where you want to be.
Go to your doctor, they're more understanding than you think, and if you go in with a plan of what kind of treatment you want, they're more likely to help you.
4. Get Exercising
Numerous studies have shown the link to exercise and increase in mood, and I know it's one of those things you've probably heard so many times, but trust me it works. I always feel more positive and energetic when I work out, even if it means doing the bare minimum. Join a gym, watch Youtube videos, find a buddy who's also looking to get fit or read my advice on 10 ways to get your fitness mojo back for more ideas.
5. Eat Healthily
My father-in-law believed that food was medicine, and if you were able to eat the right foods, you could help yourself out of a funk. I truly see the wisdom of his words now. Have a look at your diet and see what you're eating. When we're depressed and anxious, it's so easy to retreat to the junk food or unhealthy foods because we think it's easier than cooking a meal from scratch. If you're having trouble deciding what to eat, then there are plenty of apps and of course Pinterest to help you make a delicious, healthy meal that is nutritious to your body.
If you find you need extra help and support, again speak to your doctor or join a weight loss support group like Slimming World. I've just plucked up the courage to go back as I had some great results last time I went to it 2 years ago.
6. Get Out and About
Easier said than done, but there are so many free things you can do to get you out and about. My favourite thing to do is visit the local library and spend time there with a good book. Or you could go to one of the many free attractions in your area, like the Natural History Museum. Sometimes, a change of scenery will do you good.
7. Take a Class
Taking a class in something you've always wanted to do is an excellent way to not only learn a new skill but get you out and about making new friends and doing something. Whether it's pottery, flower arranging, makeup; take a class and it will help you to see a different point of view.
8. Pay attention to your personal hygiene
One of the first things to go when you're feeling depressed is personal hygiene. It's also one of the simplest and easiest ways to ease your way back into self-care mode. Whether that's having a warm bath, putting on a face mask or treating yourself to a pedicure, it's really important to take care of ourselves physically, as it's the first thing we and others notice. If you look good on the outside, then you will start to feel better on the inside.
9. Set a Goal
When we have a goal in mind, we're singlehandedly doing everything we can to achieve that goal. Whether that's to start a new career, run a marathon or even to fit back into your favourite jeans that make you feel amazing, have a goal in mind and start working towards it. This gets your brain working. Problem-solving and working towards something that makes you feel great is the best way to lift yourself out once you've started with the other steps.
What's my goal? I want to climb another mountain, literally! When we went to Morocco, I faced my fears and climbed a mountain. It was the scariest but most satisfying thing I've done.
10. Give Yourself Permission To Be Not Okay
So, you're in a positive mood, everything is going well, and you're working towards your goal, but suddenly there's a setback and you find yourself spiralling towards the deep end again. Stop. Don't beat yourself up. Give yourself time to wallow, but then start putting together a plan using your support system to get yourself back on track. Don't let setbacks take your eye off the prize which is a healthier, happier you.
If it helps, write a letter to yourself from the other side. Envision yourself the way you've always wanted to be. Write down those crazy dreams and ambitions! The only one stopping you is yourself.