I’ve said this to so many people so many times, and I’ll keep saying it forever, because it’s so important.
If you want to beat your depression, Self Care has to be your top priority.
Depression is a bitch, kids. If you’ve read my about page you’ll know I refer to mine as my shadow self. The reason for this is it’s like having a shadow cast over you, constantly obscuring the view of the bright light that lives within you. My shadow self also obscures my view of everything outside of myself. It casts a darkness over everything: music I love, movies I’m trying to watch, my friends and their well-being, the state of my home, my self-image. My depression tells me constantly how little I deserve. In fact, I hear it in my head so often that it becomes my truth. So what do I do once I’ve convinced myself that I deserve nothing? Well, I give myself exactly that. Can anyone out there relate?
If you can, guess what. You don’t have to live your life in that shadow. You can shine a metaphorical light (or a literal one, some SPF-fortified exposure to sunshine is great for your mental health) on your shadow self, and you can find happiness. The first place to look for this light is in self care. Your shadow self does not have your best interests in mind! So grab your flashlight and tell it to go screw itself. You deserve happiness, and you deserve to take care of yourself. So, without further adieu, here are ten quick and easy self care solutions you can employ when the shadow comes creeping over.
1. Take a shower.
I told you these were easy. Something as simple as washing your hair and maybe shaving your armpits, if that’s your thing, can mean a world of difference. It’s not about the act, it’s the meaning behind it. In my worst times of depression taking a shower required effort I felt I didn’t have, so when I did take one I was very proud of myself. I felt new. So hop in the shower, rinse off your woes and sing your favorite song as loud as you can. Try adding aromatherapy to the mix for an added boost. Lavender is great for your mood, and I frequently use tea tree oil for relaxation also.
2. Do a short yoga practice.
Maybe yoga’s not your thing, or you’ve never tried it before. It can be a little intimidating at first, especially when we see pictures on instagram of yogis folded up like lawn chairs. (We will talk about social media some other time, I’ve got plenty to say about that.) There are some great resources online for beginners! My personal favorite YouTube channel is Yoga With Adriene. She has a great playlist for beginners, and this quick self care practice is great for novices and masters alike. Yoga is such a great way to connect with your body and mind! I highly encourage you to try it. Note: this is not a paid advertisement, I just really love her channel.
3. Indulge in a delicious snack.
My go-to is chocolate. Eating a brownie or a bowl of ice cream is SO good, I always enjoy it. If you hate chocolate (you monster!) or have a dietary restriction, pick a snack that makes you happy. Maybe it’s cheese puffs or maybe it’s some incredible hummus that does it for you. Whatever it is, grab some and savor every bite. You deserve this.
4. Cry it out.
This one might sound counter productive, but I know firsthand that in an effort to “shake” our depression, we tend to ignore it completely. Don’t act like you haven’t done it! Keep ignoring it and eventually we numb ourselves to the pain. Allowing yourself to cry is an amazing way to connect with and release your emotions. It’s scary, and yes, it does hurt at first. But like a shower you just have to focus on the meaning. You’re letting it out, letting go of this pain. After a good cry it always feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
5. Develop and practice a mantra.
When I first heard about this I was in group therapy during my intensive outpatient program, and I thought to myself, “I’m never gonna do THAT dumb shit!” I was too embarrassed to even try. How dumb is that, right? Picture this: I’m alone in front of a mirror talking to myself and that’s embarrassing to me. Did I think someone was spying on me and laughing? Maybe that’s how you can begin your new mantra. “I can say nice things aloud to myself and not feel shame. I will say nice things to myself until it becomes comfortable to hear myself say them.” I don’t know, maybe that’s just me. After I finally got over myself I tried it and honestly guys, it works. If you need advice on what to put in a mantra, you can get some great ideas from this article.
6. Clean your fingernails.
If you smirked when I suggested you take a shower I can only imagine how you felt reading this one. Cleaning your nails is quick and easy though, and it can be such a symbolic gesture. You’re effectively taking five minutes just to focus on self maintenance. You’re physically telling yourself that you matter, that you deserve to be clean. We all have to start somewhere, and in the past I have found this to be a great jumping off point.
Turn your favorite song up as loud as you reasonably can and forget the world. Seriously, go crazy. Put yourself at risk for injury. No don’t do that, that’s counterproductive, but what I’m saying is let go for a couple minutes and just have fun. I am a terrible dancer, so bad- I just crank some tunes and jump around and scream the lyrics at the top of my lungs. No shame in the game. If you have roommates and you’re afraid they’re gonna judge you they probably need a good dance session too, so make it a team-building exercise. Check out some of my favorite mood boosting tunes here. My absolute go-to is Meltdown! by The Aquabats.
I typically keep a sharpie and notepad on me simply because you never know when inspiration will strike. When I’m stressed I like to find a quiet place where I can be alone for a few minutes, and just start writing or doodling. I’ve drawn some seriously weird stuff during anxiety attacks that ultimately helped me release my emotions. Writing lists is something I lean on heavily for dealing with my anxiety and my ADHD also. It’s really helpful just to write down a list of your scattered thoughts, and then look back on them and try to make some sense of them when you’re feeling a little more calm. Or you can just write a big curse word and decorate it, or draw a big steamy pile of poop. Whatever helps.
9. Go for a run.
If you’re not a runner, walking is fine too, or even going for a swim. Getting outside and feeling the fresh air is extremely cleansing. Running is a great way to burn off negative energy- I like to imagine my problems lie at the starting point, and as I run further and further they keep getting smaller. Eventually I will return to my starting point and my problems will still be there, but I’ve put them into a little bit of perspective and now I can process them more effectively.
10. Make a goal chart.
Creating is a great way to channel your energy. I love this craft in particular because you get to examine your goals head-on, and it gives you an opportunity to recognize your hard work and reward yourself for it. I have made several of these as my needs change and they are so useful. Try it out here.
So there are my top ten quick and easy self-care techniques. Let me know in the comments if you’ve had any success with these, or some of your favorite techniques I missed. Take care of yourselves.