When I drop into a pit of depression all things self care fall to the back of my mind and I end up neglecting myself. Sometimes I can end up going weeks without showering because I feel too exhausted to do so. I often over-indulge on sugary and high fat foods because I’m trying to fill the hole that depression leaves behind. Even when I appear to be okay, I am in fact struggling to accomplish even the most basic day to day activities such as brushing my teeth or keeping up with my housework. More often than not my mind is in a shambles and I am overwhelmed with a depressive mess that is cluttering my entire being. This darkness also has the habit of infecting my surroundings, it causes me to lose all motivation to not only look after myself but to look after my living space, leaving it a chaotic and toxic environment which only makes me fall farther into depression. By this point I often feel unhappy, exhausted and burdened.
During moments of lucidity when my depression has lifted I must do what I can to improve all aspects of myself. I also need to learn to not allow myself to slip that far into the depression. Self care is what I must be focused on for me to be able improve my mental health. It can be difficult to concentrate on yourself when you feel like the world Is swallowing you whole, but this is why I must do this. I can no longer sit alone in the darkness allowing it to consume me. I must rise above it and overcome my nightmare in order to really live my life.
So now I leave you with a list of 10 self care ideas that I know work for me (when I have the motivation) maybe they’ll also work for those who are in the same boat.
1. Listen To Music. Sometimes submerging your mind into something other than what your feeling can really help. I like to listen to music that is more uplifting and positive if I’m feeling especially vulnerable or upset.
2. Spending Time With Your Fluffy Friends. Sometimes just playing with your pets can really perk you up. I have a 1 year old cat named Shadow (pictured below) and he always makes me feel safe at times when I’m feeling low.
3. Warm Showers/Baths. I for one prefer showers as the feeling of the water flowing over my head feels like it is cleansing my mind and setting me free. A good bath bomb from Lush doesn’t hurt though..
4. Deep Breathing. One of the most important things my therapist taught me was how to breathe. Seems simple right? Look at the way babies breathe, they breathe from their stomach. However, most of us adults breathe from our chests (the wrong way). When I’m feeling stressed or anxious I take deep “belly” breaths, I put my hand on my stomach and when I inhale I feel my stomach expand as the air fills it, and on the exhale you should feel your stomach relax.
5. Journaling. For me writing is the best medicine. Having a journal where you can write whatever you need to and be completely uncensored without the fear of judgment is such a relief. You can have as many journals as you want (I have more than my fair share.) and fill the pages with all sorts of things.
6. Organise and Declutter. Sometimes we don’t realise how messy our minds are until it manifests through our surroundings. Having a good clear out helps me find myself. You can either bin, donate or recycle the things taking up space in your home that you no longer have use for.
7. Burn Scented Candles. Smell is definitely my favourite of all five of my senses. Whether you prefer vanilla, lavender or jelly beans, there’s a candle out there suited to you. During this time of year I really adore the smells of Ginger Bread scented candles, but my ULTIMATE favourite would have to be Spiced Apple and Cinnamon.
8. Talk To a Friend/Someone You Trust. Sometimes the best thing for you is to be open to someone you trust about how you are feeling. I have a select few friends that I know would do their absolute best to comfort my insecurities and I am so grateful for them.
9. Moisturise. The feeling of you essentially petting yourself is a really important self regulation tool that I think everyone should use and it doesn’t have to be moisturiser, it could be lavender oil, shower gel or anything you like really. It provides a comfort you never knew you needed.
10. Spending Time With Family. Whether it’s a movie or a meal out with your children/friends it’s a chance to get out of your own head and focus a bit on other more important things. Family doesn’t have to mean blood relatives just anyone you are close to. Spending time with my son Damian (pictured below) really cheers my up on days when I’m at my lowest, plus he does give the best hugs.