Self-Care for the Sad Girl
From rose bubble baths and pedicures to full blown wellness retreats, self-care has taken off as a major health trend in the wellness industry. While this shift in thinking that promotes self acceptance, self love, and physical and emotional wellbeing is groundbreaking, it not a 'one size fits all’ practice.
Depression is a severe illness that causes a range of unpleasant symptoms that affect the way someone thinks, feels, and handles daily activities. For people with depression, it’s difficult to find the motivation to get up out of bed, not to mention trying to get up and put coconut oil all over your face and hair.
So how can people with low mood and no motivation practice self-care?
I asked Leann Weaver, author of Living with Anxiety (and other adventures), to share her knowledge and personal experiences of coping with mental illness. Her honesty and willingness to help others is inspiring. Keep reading to hear her thoughts.
"Self-care is an essential step in not just hygiene, appearance, or productivity, but in healing and establishing a healthier mental state as well."
Self-care should be a necessary practice for everyone, but for those who are really struggling to get through every day, it needs to be a must (even though you really, really, don’t want to). Self-care is an essential step in not just hygiene, appearance, or productivity, but in healing and establishing a healthier mental state as well.
The biggest turn-offs for those of us with mental illnesses or health issues when they hear ‘self-care’ or ‘routine’ is the thought of forcing themselves into it. Forcing themselves into getting up, into looking in the mirror, into a mindset that allows them to even care about it in the first place. However, a lot of people don’t realise that self-care doesn’t necessarily always mean putting on a face mask or exercising- it could literally be as simple as thinking. Here are some tips that help me whenever I’m a sad girl (spoiler alert: not a single yoga pose or DIY scrub in sight).
1. Make a simple checklist
Don’t aim too high for this one- you might really be ready to get out of your funk, whether that’s depression, anxiety, stress, and that’s great! But, in a stint or short-lived motivation, a lot of people write down an extensive list of things they want to either get done or goals they want to achieve. There’s nothing wrong with having lots of things that you want to do or get done, but it’s better to start with something small and focus on a few things rather than stretching yourself over lots of things and losing motivation early on. When you see yourself accomplish a bunch of small goals, your motivation and confidence slowly builds as you see your progress grow!
Some examples of checklists that I make:
- Make the bed
- Search for new music
- Tidy up the living room
- Find a new inspirational quote for my phone background
And examples of my short term goals (in order to reach the bigger ones):
- Save $500 this month
- Pre-write a couple of blog posts
- Complete a 21-day workout routine
Write and do what you feel comfortable with. If you think that all you can do that day is read a few chapters of your favorite book, then go for it! And if you want to aim high and clean the whole house and get grocery done, then go for that too! Just remember that it’s also okay to only aim for the smaller goals.
2. Get back to what you used to love
A really common and sad symptom of depression is not wanting to do the hobbies and things you used to love. Try to get back into it today, even if it’s only for today! If you used to draw, doodle about how you feel today in a journal. If you used to be a social butterfly, invite one of your closest friends or family members over (or out, if you’re up for it). If you used to be into sports and exercising, put some music in and go for a walk. Remember, it’s all progress.
3. Look for a local therapist or psychologist.
If you’re anything like me, the thought of talking to strangers (sometimes multiple if you’re also picky like me) makes you shiver. But once I found my current therapist, my mind changed. Talking to someone really helps most people if you let it. It’s easier said than done, but once you become friends with your therapist and open up, life can become more coherent and clear, simply from getting your thoughts out of your mouth and getting heard by an unbiased ear.
4. Write stuff down!
A good alternative to number 3, but also just good in general, writing how you feel, can help. You can keep a journal to reflect on, or write on scrap paper and burn it, the choice is yours. It’s all about getting those thoughts out, because they don’t belong in.
5. Create or revamp your ‘safe space’.
Safe spaces are so important for your mental health- I can’t stress that enough. If you don’t have one, create one! Whether that’s your room, your car, the bathroom, outside, or just a particular spot in your house, make it yours. I share a house with my partner and another couple, so I keep my safe space on my desk. I have everything I need here- my computer, charger, a fan, journals, my favorite books, incense, essential oils and diffusers, a 2-liter water bottle- anything I think might help keep me elevated and balanced, its within an arm’s reach. Create your own, and make it somewhere you can escape, even if it’s only for 5 minutes.
"These things that might seem like second nature to every one else, might be the beginning of learning to love and care for yourself, and that’s what matters. "
6. Simple hygiene.
Remember to brush your teeth and scrub behind your ears in the shower instead of just letting the water fall on you. Put on deodorant, brush your hair, splash some water on your face. Remember that you’re worth caring about, and you should care about yourself the most. These things that might seem like second nature to every one else, might be the beginning of learning to love and care for yourself, and that’s what matters. Work towards them.
7. Just think.
At the end of the day, showers and pretty-smelling body wash isn’t going to clean away your anxiety, your PTSD, your depression, your body dysmorphia. Writing and talking can only help so much. Self-care is not a cure for mental illness, but it’s a good friend to have. It can be something as ‘little’ as thinking about you first. Thinking about the beauty that is around, in and that is you. Thinking about the things that you do love, things that do keep you grounded. Wake up tomorrow, and just think, and get those voices in your head to play nice.
Remember, it’s more than okay to be selfish from time to time, do things for yourself, and devote days just to making yourself feel better. It’s okay if some days you can run a mile, and it’s okay if some days you don’t want to get out of bed.
“You cannot pour from an empty cup. Fill yourself up, you’re worth it.”