Being a friend to ourselves can be really difficult when we’re depressed. Depression plays havoc with our self-esteem, and we’re often really mean to ourselves. We say things to ourselves that we would never say to another person. We treat ourselves in ways that we wouldn’t dream of treating anyone else.
Self-care and self-compassion are vital in helping us manage depression, but it’s hard to be kind to ourselves when we have horrible thoughts constantly circling round our head. To tackle this problem, it can be helpful to take a step back and think about treating ourselves the way we would treat a close friend. In this post, we share some examples of how we might do this.
Ask For Help
If a close friend was finding life hard, we’d encourage them to get help. They might be struggling with childcare, their jobs, their health, or something else. Whatever it is, we would encourage them to reach out to those around them.
We need to try and do the same for ourselves. We need to reach out to friends, family members, health professionals, or others who can help us. We deserve help and support.
Trust and honesty are important in friendship, but we’re not always honest with ourselves. Sometimes we’re struggling, but we tell ourselves that we’re fine. Sometimes we’re tired, but we tell ourselves we just need to work harder. Sometimes we need to address important things in our lives, but we bury our head in the sand.
In life it helps to be honest with ourselves as much as possible. It can be hard when depression is telling us lies about ourselves – but if we can cut through the negative thoughts, we can get to the root of who we truly are and what we truly want. Counselling or therapy – or indeed, talking to a friend can be helpful with this. Once we can honest with ourselves we can also be more honest with others about our needs.
When our friends achieve something, we’re happy for them. We celebrate it with them! It doesn’t matter whether they’ve done well on an exam, got out of bed for the first time in three days, or something else. We still feel proud of them.
We should try and celebrate our own achievements too. By waking up every day and living alongside depression, we’re already achieving so much. Anything we manage on top of that is a bonus. We should be proud of ourselves for all that we achieve every day.
If our best friend was sad, we’d know the best way to comfort them. Some people might find comfort in wrapping up in a blanket. Others might prefer to have their favourite meal or watch their favourite film.
After rubbish days, instead of beating ourselves up, we need to be kind to ourselves and comfort ourselves.
It can be so easy to get behind on everyday self-care when depression pops up. If our best friend was beginning to struggle to lay the self-care foundations, we’d call them out on it.
We need to be aware when our everyday self-care begins to slip. It can be helpful to enlist some help to get it back on track before it slips too far, if possible. With solid self-care foundations, it’s easier to manage everything else in life. We might not be able to manage all the self-care that we need to do. But ticking off a few things can help to improve our mood and help life to feel a little more manageable.
We all make mistakes. When our friends slip up, we forgive them.
We’re no different from anyone else, so we need to forgive ourselves when we make mistakes. Forgiveness can be very powerful. If depression has derailed our plans and we’re not quite in the place we always thought we’d be in life, we need to forgive that too. It’s not our fault that we’ve been unwell. We’re doing the best that we can.
Close friendships are formed when we get to know the other person. Their likes, dislikes, humour, values, and so on.
This applies to our relationship with ourselves too. Depression can steal our identity and make us completely unsure of who we are. Taking time getting to know ourselves again can be hugely valuable.
Go On A Trip
When we meet up with our friends we do fun things together. We might go to the cinema, visit a garden centre, take a trip to a gallery, go window shopping, or enjoy a walk in nature.
The things we enjoy doing with our friends can often been done alone. This is especially helpful if we don’t feel up for company. Going on a trip gets us out of the house, and allows us to see if we can enjoyment in things again. It can also help us in getting to know ourselves.
The most important thing is to show ourselves kindness. As much as possible, we need to treat ourselves with the compassion and understanding we extend to other people.
Depression is a bully: it makes us feel small, and tells us we deserve to be miserable. By being a friend to ourselves we show depression that we’re worth more than that. Just like any other person, we deserve kindness and and we deserve respect.
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