I’ve been spending some time leading up to this post thinking about a particularly bad day. I was going through a depressive episode and on this day I was a wreck. At my worst I don’t leave my bed, I am okay with not showering, and I won’t eat. I don’t want to talk to anybody and want to be alone. I remember my boyfriend saying to me, “At the very least, you have to have a shower today.”
Adjusting my medications was a suitable intervention for me that alleviated my depression. However, working on my self care routines, especially during times that I am struggling, are just as important for me.
Oftentimes when I use the term ‘self care’ people don’t know what I mean. Self care, in short, is any activity that betters your physical and mental health. Things like: washing your hair, cutting your nails, doing your laundry, throwing on a pair of clean clothes, drinking water more often, taking a bath, calling a friend to chat, painting your nails, or going for a walk or run. Really, self care can be a lot of things.
If you’re new to the term self care I found a check list online that you can go through on a bad day, or a good day too. There is also an online tool that runs you through a list of questions to help you figure out what you need right now in order to take care of yourself. You can start at the beginning and just do all of the self-care suggestions and see how you feel. Or you try to find a question that speaks to how you’re feeling that day and see how that one intervention changes your mood.
Self care sounds easy enough – how hard could it possibly be to throw a bar of soap at yourself once a day and slap on some deodorant? But when you’re feeling depressed it can feel like a herculean task. When I’m feeling depressed those self care activities are the last things I want to do. But not doing them only makes my mood worse.
I did eventually have a shower that bad day. I practically rolled out of bed and grumbled the entire way there. But I did feel a bit better after. Would I say my depression vanished? No. However, having the shower was one thing I could control while my mood remained outside of my grasp. Lately I’ve been trying to focus my self care on getting back to a regular running schedule. I completed a half marathon mid-February. However, I have let my physical activity slide since then. I know that when I am more active my mood tends to be more stable.
Self care is a bit of a journey. I continue to learn more about myself the more I venture into caring for my body and mind. I learned this past year that a hot bath is such a peaceful reverie, and that journaling and writing are great ways for me to sort out how I’m feeling. Continuing to practice self care will only better my ability to control my mood. My moods and thoughts often feel like they are outside of myself. But self care activities are things I can control and can do to help myself. Continuing to do these self care activities consistently, especially when I don’t want to, will only better me. I challenge you to try going through the list on a bad day. As hard as it is, you just might surprise yourself.
About Cassie S
25 year old psychiatric nursing student. I live with depression off and on and have since I was 12. Learning to ride the waves as they come. I'm an introvert who enjoys reading, art, and spending time with friends and family. I also really enjoy being active: running, biking, hot yoga, dodge ball and slo-pitch are a few favourites.