Everyone gets sad sometimes. A day or two of hiding under the covers, turning off the phone and binging Netflix and Rocky Road can be a restorative way to deal with grief or sadness in the short term. But what happens when two days turns into two weeks or even two months? Excessive sleeping, lack of energy, and the inability to enjoy previously pleasurable activities are all symptoms of depression that can lead to isolation and self-neglect. Practicing self-care is a great way to combat these symptoms, but for those living with depression or depressive disorders, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here are some essential self-care practices to use as a starting place for recovery.
At the root of self-care is personal cleanliness. Especially for those living with Chronic Depression or Major Depressive Disorder, just getting in the shower can be a big step. Lack of energy, lack of focus, and sometimes even underlying anxiety can prevent them from taking care of even the basic necessities. It can be helpful to start small; just get in and get wet. Once a habit is formed, washing, shampooing, and even shaving can be added one at a time.
Hand in hand with showering is dental care. Brushing at all, even without toothpaste, can be the foundation for a more comprehensive routine in the future.
Depressed people often isolate for many reasons. Some are fearful of rejection, some don’t want to be a burden, others find it hard to talk about their depression due to stigma. Calling someone who cares is often a relief once those obstacles can be overcome. Even a text message to say “I’m okay” will often be enough to reopen the lines of communication. Most people have more friends than they believe they do.
If it’s too hard to reach out to a friend or loved one then a counselor or therapist is an excellent source of non-judgmental support.
Fresh Air and Physical Activity
Getting a breath of fresh air sounds like a catchy advertising phrase or an excuse to avoid an unpleasant conversation, but in reality, it is a great way to start a self-care ritual. For those suffering from depression, exercise might be a long term goal but walking out on the porch once a day is far more achievable. Sunlight can be healing and just going outside can evolve into periodic walks to the mailbox or even a stroll around the block.
There are many ways to take care of yourself when you are suffering from depression or anxiety. The best way to learn how to start and maintain a good self-care practice is to speak with an experienced licensed therapist or counselor. If you live in the Greater Dallas area, please contact us to schedule an appointment here.