When you’re dealing with depression, it’s a lifelong quest. One that you have embarked upon to improve your life. With all the chatter about self-care, we often misunderstand what that really means or looks like. If you’re dealing with depression, then you’ll know you need to extend yourself compassion. You have to make positive changes in your life. Yet, the last thing anyone struggling with depression feels like is overhauling their lives. It’d be great if we got a manual, but we don’t. However, there are some easy self-care habits you can put into daily use starting now.
1. Start From Where You Are
It isn’t about taking luxurious vacations or escaping for a four-star massage. Those things are wonderful, but the reality of the matter is you have to start from where you are. This means, you can look after yourself better at home, at work, when you’re with friends, family or even in the car. Mental illness can be frustrating so self-care is about developing coping skills that you can use throughout your day. Start your self-care routine by looking inwardly.
2. Tune In
Mental illness can also impact your body. It often depletes your energy store, exhausts you, and can leave you with headaches. Anxiety can speed you up, make you sweat, cause your heart to race. If you struggle with both depression and anxiety, then you’ll know it feels as though you’re in a constant battle with yourself. Pay close attention to the clues your body is offering you about the state of your mind. If you feel a heavy chest, knotted stomach or sweaty palms, it’s time to pay more attention to yourself.
3. Deep Breathing
Your breathing will become shallow and rapid when anxiety is building. You’ll feel the tension physically, in your jaw and in your shoulders. Deep breathing is your best friend in these situations. It’s like hitting a pause button and escaping from racing thoughts. It gives you an emotional release. Plus, you can do it absolutely anywhere.
4. The Wo(man) In The Mirror
Negative thinking is common for people who struggle with depression and anxiety. Self-criticism is a common struggle and that directly influences how you view yourself physically. You instinctively put yourself down when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. Make a conscious effort to be kinder to yourself. You can acknowledge all feelings as valid and real without turning them against yourself.
5. Pay Attention to Self-Talk
Let’s look back at the tape! Yep, you did say that about yourself. We need to pay more attention to the way you address ourselves. The shame and guilt you’ve picked up in your life come out in your self-talk. What story is your inner monologue telling you? There’s a good chance it’s the wrong story and you need to pay enough attention to know when to correct it.
6. Mindful Moments
Mindfulness allows you to create a space where you can find peace in the present, but acknowledge any pain you’re experiencing. You can think of this as your mindfulness moment and it’s one that you should look to repeat daily. Your moment could be walking your dog and focusing on the sounds and sights of nature. Your moment should serve to immerse you in the moment.
They aren’t just for kids. Even adults could benefit from the concept. If you feel anxiety or depression building, then acknowledge that and take a time-out. It’s just a short break, but your mental health will thank you. Self-care means looking after every aspect of your life, but for people dealing with depression and anxiety, that might look differently.