When you’re depressed, it’s difficult to care about anything – least of all yourself.
However, self-care is one of the key tools in our armoury for combating depression, so it’s important we make it a priority.
What is Self-care?
Self-care is the actions we undertake to look after ourselves, physically, emotionally and mentally.
It incorporates the essential acts of care that we all need to focus on – like eating well, keeping ourselves clean and getting enough sleep.
On top of that though, self-care is what nourishes us personally: the things we do that comfort us, calm us, and make us feel good. These will vary from person to person – you might be drawn to creative activities, physical pursuits, mindfulness techniques, a combination of all three or something different altogether.
If you need inspiration about what self-care might look like for you, have a look at our post on self-care ideas.
Why is Self-care so important?
Although everyone can benefit from self-care, it is especially valuable for those who live with depression. Here are five reasons why:
It’s good for our health
Some self-care activities have physical benefits that can help our mental health.
Exercise, for example, instantly triggers endorphins, and taken regularly can offer a whole host of mood-boosting benefits.
Meanwhile, paying attention to our nutrition can help relieve some symptoms of depression. (Have a listen to our podcast on the role food plays in mental health to learn more).
It’s good for our hearts
Self-care can also positively impact on our emotional wellness.
Some self-care activities can directly impact on the stuff that brings us down. For example, decluttering our surroundings can leave us feeling lighter. Practising self-compassion can boost our self-esteem.
It sounds basic, but doing things that make us feel good, makes us feel good. Even if we can only do the tiniest thing, and even if that tiniest thing only opens the teeniest-tiniest chink of light within the black fug of our depression, we’ve still made progress.
It reminds us we are worthy
Depression is cruel: it tells us we don’t matter, even though we really, really do.
By prioritising self-care – taking time out to do something just for us – we counter those negative thoughts. We’re showing depression that actually, WE ARE worthy of attention and care.
And though initially we may feel some resistance to this (sadly, self-worth sadly can’t be magicked out of the air), the more we practice self-care, the more we’ll believe in our worth too.
It empowers us
Although medical and therapeutic assistance are vitally important in treating depression, self-care is extremely helpful too.
And whereas we’re not always in control of the outside help we get – we rely on our doctors to make the correct choices about medication, we may need referrals or be on waiting lists for treatment – we can take control of our own self-care.
Making positive choices around our self-care is empowering. We show our depression, and ourselves, that we are still in charge.
You can start now
Self-care is accessible to everyone, and even the smallest acts make a big difference.
In fact, reading this post counts as an act of self care. You’ve started.
We’re challenging you to take part in #365daysofselfcare – making self-care a part of your daily life for 365 days. We’re sharing our progress on social media using #365daysofselfcare to check in with you all and we’ve also got these Sticky Notes available if you’d like to chart your progress that way.
Sharing is caring: please share this post to help others, you never know who might need it.