Depression is something I’ve struggled with for years. When I became a mother and had 3 children in 3 years I fell into a deep depression because I lost my sense of self. I had no time to care for myself. All my time and energy went to caring for newborns and toddlers and no time for my own selfcare. The lack of selfcare showed outside and in. Finally, I decided I needed to make time for myself in order to be my best self for not just me but for my family. The steps I give below may seem basic, but when someone is in a deep slump even basic tasks seem impossible. Some of the tasks on this list may get an eye roll because I used to roll my eyes when someone would say “just get up” or “go outside”, but they said it so nonchalantly like they had no idea what I was feeling, and they really didn’t. I want you to know that I know how hard these things may seem during a slump, but please try. A good selfcare routine can help you love and care for yourself again which can eventually brighten your mind, body and soul.
1. GET UP! – I know your body feels heavy and useless, but you have the strength inside yourself to pick yourself up. Do it!
2. Get Clean – Brush your teeth, wash your face, take a shower, brush your hair. Basic selfcare tasks that you forget to do when you forget to care about yourself. You have to learn to love and care for yourself again to get better. While you are doing these tasks and looking in the mirror, try your best to see the beauty in front of you and past the imperfections you may tend to focus on. The happiest people in the world aren’t perfect either, no one is; there is beauty in everyone’s flaws and differences.
3. Reach Out – Admitting we need help is hard enough to admit to ourselves and even harder to admit to anyone else. But reaching out is extremely important! If you’re not ready to talk to family or friends please tell your doctor how you’re feeling and follow through with their recommendations. Following doctor’s orders definitely falls under selfcare. It means you care enough about yourself to heal.
4. Caffeine – Coffee, your favorite energizing tea or anyway you like your caffeine that doesn’t include too much sugar, will help you get your mind and body up and going. If brewing coffee every morning seems too daunting try a cold brew pitcher that will last you a few days.
5. Clean Up – Pull the sheets off and throw them in the wash, instead of walking by trash, pick it up. Clean your counters with something that smells great. Feeling clean and being around clean things will definitely boost your mood.
6. Brighten Up – Let in the light, open the blinds, step outside and let the sun hit your face and body. The warmth and brightness will feel so good, take a blanket and lay in the warmth for a bit. Turn on your oil diffuser or an uplifting scented candle. Buy some bright flowers to spruce up your home.
7. Get off Your Island – You may have a particular space in your home you spend most of your hours like your bed or spot on the couch that’s surrounded with everything you need, snacks, remotes, blankets, etc. Clean it up and move everything away. It may feel like a comfort zone, and that’s definitely ok sometimes, but try not to confine yourself to one area for too long because the more you stay stuck in one place the more you’ll stay stuck in your funk.
8. Leave Your House – Go for a drive with some feel good music, go for a walk around your neighborhood or even a jog if you can.
9. Drink Water – Cleanse your body and soul. Preferably cold and with lemon to really feel refreshed.
10. Snack Happy – Snacks like bananas, dark chocolate, oranges, berries, healthy cereal and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich can help boost your mood. Stay away from too much sugar or processed foods, they may feel comforting in that moment but in the long run will contribute to feeling stagnant and sluggish.
11. Cardio – This is the hardest one for me. I really don’t like cardio, but it really does work. Start with a 5 minute jog or 5 minutes on the elliptical, 30 minutes on a stationary bike, or even a bike ride around your neighborhood or favorite trail. You will feel better right after, but starting is the hardest part.
12. Do What You Like – Do something that will make you feel good – drawing, painting, writing, journaling, exercising, photography, reading. Doing anything that you truly enjoy will boost your mood.
13. Believe In Yourself – The odds of you being born is about 1 in 400 trillion. You beat the odds by just being born. You have something in you that persevered and fought to live. Continue that fight! There is brightness past the darkness you’re feeling, but you have to fight to get there. Push yourself to your greatest potential, you owe it to yourself, it’s never too late.
This was a list to get you started, but these are some extras that will really boost your mood.
14. Pamper Yourself – Take a hot bath with some great bath salts or bath bomb, deep condition your hair, shave, use a face mask, or rub some decadent great smelling lotion on yourself.
15. Glow – Do your hair, makeup, put on something nice, paint your nails or even better get a mani-pedi now and then.
16. Hit The Beach – If you have access to the beach go there, get in and immerse yourself in the sea and sun. If you don’t live near the sea a river or lake is great too. If none of these options are available to you, a pool is also a good option. Better yet, set a goal for yourself to go on a vacation to a great beach destination.
17. Play – If you have kids, nieces or nephews, play with them, blow bubbles, go outside with them, have tea time, play store or dolls. See the world with the wonder they still see with. Their smiles and bright eyes are infectious.
Living with anxiety and depression is a challenge and getting out of a deep depressive state is a process that won’t happen overnight. Keeping up with a great selfcare routine and learning to love and appreciate yourself will help you get to where you need to be. If you still feel like your depression and/or anxiety is too much to bear, please reach out to your doctor to see how else you can help yourself. There’s no shame in realizing and admitting you need help to get back to a better state of mind. Remember, you are not alone in this.