Self Care – When You Don’t Care

I have frequently been told “I WANT to take care of my personal health and spend time pampering myself, but depression gets in the way.” Believe me – I am the FIRST person to understand this statement. When that dark wave starts to cloud over your head, everything feels impossible. Simple things like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and putting on deodorant can seem like climbing a mountain
Well over the last 15 plus years that I’ve dealt with depression, I have found ways to ensure im taking care of the bare minimum at least, without being too hard on my body and my emotional state. I figured I could compile a list of these things you can do, even in the midst of depression, to keep taking care of yourself.

1. Teeth Brushing – This seems to be one of the hardest tasks for me when I’m battling depression. I honestly have no idea why it seems so hard, but nevertheless, I have discovered that rinsing with mouthwash is better than not doing anything. Your dentist will probably scold you, but if simply keeping your mouth bacteria and germ free is the best you can do, it is enough.

2. Showering/Bathing – When the fatigue sets in, standing in the shower, washing my hair, and shaving all seem like giant tasks that will deplete every bit of energy I have left. Rather than going weeks without a shower (like I have in the past), just soak in the tub. There’s no need to wash your hair, or even your body if you don’t have the energy. Soaking in the tub will at least help keep your skin cleaner than it would be without.

3. Exercise – This one can be tough. Depression comes with fatigue and lack of motivation. Both of those things make getting up and moving around very difficult. Play your favorite song. Put it on and let your body feel the music. If all you can do is bob your head, do that. If you feel inclined, get up and dance. The average song is around 4 minutes long. 4 minutes of dancing is better than 24 hours of doing absolutely nothing to move your body around.

4. Getting Dressed – I know it sounds easier to stay in the same clothes for days, but I’ve found over the years, that sitting in the same dirty clothes for days can actually make my mood WORSE. I don’t need to get dressed up, but just changing into a different shirt can make a huge difference. Start with one piece of clothing. Just change your shirt, or your pants, or hell, even just your socks. After sitting in the same clothes for days, a clean article of clothing can really make you feel better.

5. Social Interaction – Depression is an isolating feeling…It convinces you that you’re worthless, annoying, too sensitive, etc. This can really start to take a toll on your mind, causing you to isolate yourself from your friends and family. Try to send one text per day to someone you care about. Even if all it says is “have a good day”, this is better than nothing. Alternatively you can join some social media groups that spark your interest. Make an introduction post and try to interact with at least one person per day from that group. Being trapped inside your own mind all day long is extremely exhausting. It truly can help to just have one small interaction per day, and over time you might find that you can have two or more interactions per day.

I know that none of these suggestions are magic fixes for depression. I also understand that even some of these things can be too overwhelming to do. That’s okay. Just don’t give up hope. Keep trying, and keep telling yourself that you are worthy and loved. We will make it through this together.

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