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All I want to do is sleep, eat, maybe drink a little too much wine and sleep some more. When I was going through some serious depression this was all I wanted to do.
Of course, I had a family to take care of, a demanding job and date nights to worry about. I didn’t have time for myself. Which is probably why I was so depressed in the first place because I was seriously lacking in the self-care department.
When I started to take my self-care seriously, that’s when I was able to really overcome my depression. It wasn’t easy and trust me I didn’t really want to. But forcing myself to practice self-care was the best thing for my mental health. Plus it made it so I could help those around me, which is super important to me.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is the act of taking care of yourself. It is doing exactly what you need to do to feel the best all around. This includes mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Each person has their own way of giving themselves self-care. This could be anything from quitting that soul-crushing job to getting your hair done, to ensuring you have time to read each evening before bed.
Why is Self-Care Important?
Self-care is simply doing the things you like to do that helps you feel happy and healthy. There really is no limit to what self-care is because it’s all about what you like doing for yourself that makes you a better person, parent, spouse, sibling, and friend.
It’s important to note that self-care is not everything that feels good. We’re all tempted to use unhealthy mechanisms like drugs, alcohol, over-eating, and risk taking. These are self-destructive activities that are harmful coping mechanisms that only temporarily relieve what we’re trying to cover up emotionally.
Neglecting yourself and putting your needs on the back burner inevitably leads to an unhealthy life. Self-care needs to be a part of a schedule and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Self-care is imperative because it prevents:
Most everyone lives with stress in their daily lives but it’s important to try to reduce this as much as possible. Plenty of medical research shows that stress can cause many negative side effects. This includes headaches, low energy, aches and pain, and even insomnia.
Feeling burnout is another form of extreme stress that results in physical and emotional exhaustion, negativity, lack of enjoyment and the feeling of hopelessness. It typically happens when people are overworked or during events that you feel you can’t control.
Self-care allows you to take a break from these activities that can result in burnout. Even if it’s a simple one-minute break where you just close your eyes and breathe, it will help reduce this type of stress.
Putting everyone else’s needs over your own will turn just about anyone negative. The feeling of not being important and that their needs overpower yours is a horrible feeling. The fact is, the more your needs are met the more others needs will be met too. You will experience less bitterness and resentment towards others if you take care of yourself.
Take a Time Out
If you find yourself at any point feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or just negative towards people stop what you are doing immediately.
You can easily take a few minutes to refocus your mind. Maybe you need to talk to your friends and family for a few minutes or look at a few pictures that make you happy such as puppies, kitties or Chris Hemsworth.
This will allow you to relax and adjust your attitude. It’s truly amazing how much more productive you will be if you just put yourself first.
How Practicing Self-Care Can Help You Fight Depression
Self-care is extremely beneficial for optimal mental health. By following a regular self-care routine you’ll increase the following areas:
- Increased Positivity – Adding these activities to your schedule will give you something to look forward to. You’ll no longer be thinking about how bad your day is. Now, you’ll be looking forward to reading that book in total silence or getting your nails done after work.
- Increased Self-Confidence – Your needs are now a top priority and that is a good thing. Self-confidence will naturally increase because you are simply doing the things that make you feel good.
- Improved Immunity – Self-care allows you to give your body a break from stress, anxiety and emotional trauma which increases your immunity. Stress and depression can overload your mind and body, it’s crucial to reduce as much as possible.
- Better Relationships – The more your needs are met the better your relationships will be with other people. When you are feeling down about yourself and don’t feel important chances are that’s what you are vomiting those emotions onto others.
- Higher Productivity – All the benefits that have been stated above help with increased productivity at work and at home. Less stress, higher immunity, and higher self-confidence all help to boost productivity.
Self-care is all about you as an individual. So, what you need to do to take care of yourself won’t be the same as your spouse, friends, and family. You will notice a significant change in your health and overall well-being after this routine has been put in place.
Self-Care Ideas to Fight Depression
Before we get into all the awesome self-care ideas that you can use to help fight your depression, I want to make sure you have the right mindset about self-care.
You may notice a little resistance while taking care of yourself more. Society was raised on working hard and helping others before you help yourself. Self-care has been seen as more of a reward for working hard than something that is vital to your health.
That simply is not true, self-care isn’t selfish. Self-care benefits you and everyone else around you.
You need oxygen!
It’s like the example that everyone uses when it comes to taking care of yourself. Just like in an airplane emergency, you need to put your oxygen mask on first. You won’t be able to help others if you can’t breathe.
The same applies to your everyday life. Being burned-out and unhappy you won’t benefit those around you. Your work will lack quality, your relationships will lack connection, and your marriage will lack passion. I hope you see where this is going. Everyone benefits in the end if they can get to their oxygen masks first.
Mental Self-Care Ideas
Self-care for your mental health is vital. At times your mind needs stimulation and challenge and at others, it needs rest and recovery. Without both of these, we risk our minds slowly turning to mush.
These mental self-care ideas will give your mind a break so you can be clear-headed, challenge your brain or reboot your brain so you can be sharp as a tack.
- Challenge your negative thinking.
- Take a nap without an alarm.
- Mix up your routine. Take a different way to work, shop from the opposite end of the grocery aisle first. Get your brain juice flowing by changing up how you do things.
- Learn how to budget and keep track of your money.
- Rearrange your furniture in a new way that makes you feel comfortable. Seeing something “new” stimulates your brain until you get used to it.
- Read fiction for an hour.
- Develop a morning ritual.
- Learn a new board game you’ve never played.
- Declutter your wardrobe. Each month pick 3 three clothing items that no longer serve you (or that you don’t love) and give them away.
- Unplug from email and social media for an hour.
Emotional Self-Care Ideas
Self-care is more than just a mindset. Although self-care can be important to your mental health, often it’s an even more crucial aspect of what you need emotionally right now.
Acknowledging our emotional state and learning to move on is an important part of self-care. Emotions dictate how we behave, so we need to be mindful of what we’re feeling especially in stressful situations.
Try not to label emotions as good or bad, instead just give each emotion a descriptive term defining exactly what it is (like fear, jealousy, empathy, etc.). If we can assign our emotions with a specific label we can remove their power to control us.
Here are some self-care ideas when dealing with emotions.
- Commit to one week of saying only positive things on your favorite social media platform.
- Allow yourself to express all of your feelings in a safe environment.
- Ask 3 people very close to you to give you positive feedback. What makes you special?
- Do one thing just because it makes you happy.
- Have a good long cry.
- Try some mindful exercises.
- Finish this sentence: I love myself because I ______.
- Keep a running list of great things people say about you. Read it when you feel down.
- Look at yourself in the mirror and imagine that you are your BFF. What would you tell yourself?
- Limit your daily goals to only 3. This will help with overwhelm and leave room for normal emergencies that come up.
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Physical Self-Care Ideas
Just as much as it’s important to take care of your mind, it’s just as important to take care of your body. Everything is connected, mind, body, and spirit.
Treat your body like a temple. Put good things into it and you’ll get good things out of it.
Our bodies love to be active and they want to be healthy. Doing physical activity can actually help clear your mind from clutter and help you think more clearly.
These physical self-care ideas are not just about the exercises but also the energy and mental training they provide when trying to get through especially rough days.
- Attend a free martial arts class.
- Do some stretching exercises.
- Get a massage.
- Drink more water.
- Get out of your chair and dance to an upbeat song.
- Slow dance for 20 minutes.
- Get to bed 15 minutes earlier.
- Start a walking challenge with a friend (they have those in Fitbit).
- Get to know your body intimately. Use a mirror and get to know your fabulous naked self. Remember no negative self-talk or judgment here.
- Try pole fitness and learn a new sexy self-confidence.
Spiritual Self-Care Ideas
A lot of times we forget to do self-care for our spiritual side. Spiritual self-care revolves around your soul and your values, not just your religion.
These activities will help you focus on a calmer mind and give you a greater perspective beyond your everyday grind.
- Do meditation right away in the morning, to set the day.
- Attend a church or spiritual community service.
- Do something nice for someone anonymously.
- Intentionally find five unexpected beautiful things on your way to work.
- Practice relaxation techniques.
- Sit somewhere green and be still and quiet for a few minutes.
- Pay mindful attention to the things you do during your morning and evening routines.
- Help someone with a small gesture like opening a door, carrying a bag or initiating a smile and a hello.
- Take a break from social media for a full 24 hours.
When we’re going through the deep dark depths of depression it can be very difficult to take care of ourselves. However, if you practice self-care regularly you can actually help fight depression. After learning all these self-care ideas you’ll have a heavy arsenal in your fight to overcome depression.
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