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"Self-care" Isn’t Just a Buzzword (and No, a Spa Day Doesn't Cure Depression)

I've lived with depression for most of my life. It is a vicious disease, capable of draining you to the core. If you live with depression, you may be well aware that an episode will likely have you feeling more than just "sad." You might be feeling a host of other symptoms such as pure exhaustion, achiness, or hopelessness. Or you may even be suicidal.

If you're experiencing these symptoms, there are those in the professional scope in which you could speak to for assistance. However, there are things you could do in the meantime to care for yourself in the present moment.

The importance of self-care with depression

Self-care has received a lot of buzz in the media in recent times. It refers to any activity that makes you feel good, as long as it is healthy and self-serving. A long-held stereotype regarding self-care is a woman in a bathrobe giving herself a manicure. This is not exactly what I'm talking about here, although if that is your idea of a perfect night of self-indulgence, then be my guest.

Caring for oneself in this manner can be greatly beneficial for mental or emotional wellbeing, especially in our stressful world. In this article, I will list 5 ways to practice self-care if you are feeling depressed.

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How I practice self-care

Spend time with pets

Try to spend quality time with your pets, if you have them. Play with them more, if you can. I have 3 dogs. Fortunately for me, I live in a dog-friendly city, enabling me to take at least 1 of them with me around town. I recently rescued a Siberian Husky, a beautiful dog breed with an arctic look. Her stunning blue eyes steal the show.

It makes me happy when people come to us to pet her and tell her how gorgeous she is. It makes it easy for me to open up and tell them the heartwarming story of how I rescued her, or really, how she rescued me. I also have a Bichon Frise whom is the epitome of unconditional love and playfulness. He can sense when I'm feeling down and will literally cuddle next to me and will not leave my side. He is a living teddy bear.

I've had my loyal Chihuahua the longest. She's also a "velcro dog" and we’ve been through a lot together. Spend time with your animals, they will not disappoint.

Get outside

In my experience, heading outdoors can be immensely beneficial when I am in the midst of a depression relapse. Natural sunlight and fresh air can have wonderful antidepressant effects. Studies have shown that just a few minutes a day of being outside can benefit a person’s mental health.

I personally enjoy visiting my local park. My dogs enjoy it too, so it works out for all of us. Walking helps me clear my mind and I almost always feel better at the end of my walk. For me, it is the ideal form of self-care.

Social interaction

Human beings are social creatures. We thrive on companionship and social interaction. Sometimes we can feel cut-off from our social contacts (for whatever reason). When this occurs, this can leave us feeling isolated, thus leading to depression and loneliness.

To make things harder, depression makes it difficult to socialize. When this happens, make it your intention to socialize with people in your life. Invite a friend or family member to coffee, it doesn't have to be a big event. What's important is that you feel valued and connected.

Relax

Remember to take time out of your day to relax. Depression can coincide with anxiety, at least for me. I also battle insomnia, so I carefully crafted a bedtime routine to help me relax.

I start my routine with a soothing shower or bath, followed by herbal tea. Then I relax in a recliner and either watch a comedy (laughter is good medicine) or I listen to calming music and light a lavender candle. This helps me to relax and calm my thoughts. Your bedtime routine will look different for you of course, but I believe it doesn't hurt to have one.

Express yourself

My last suggestion is very important. While living with depression, it's beneficial to express yourself in some form. For instance, you could express yourself in a journal or through art (think about adult coloring books or drawing). Others find it helpful to confide in a trusted friend. Some prefer to talk to a therapist. No matter how you choose to express yourself, this is still a wise form of self-care.

This or That

Which do you prefer?

Self-care when depression strikes

Those are my 5 tips for self-care. When depression strikes, I like to practice all five. I hope you can consider these strategies and maybe even add some of your own.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Depression.Mental-Health-Community.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.