Fifteen years ago, I was diagnosed with a mild depression and general anxiety disorder. This was before “self care” became a buzz word, let alone articles about “how to practice self care.”
Many aware of the topic have their own philosophy, and self care pundits lead the charge. Just, how does someone practice self care? Does it start with a morning positive affirmation, followed by an afternoon yoga session? Or is it taking a salt bath, and eating a slice of chocolate cake? If you add getting a mani/pedi, Swedish massage, and [insert shopping, dining out, etc.] I already knew how to practice self care, because I’d been doing it all my life. They were called “me days.”
But “me days” only masked my pain, and drained my wallet. As I got older, I found how to practice self care (i.e., simply taking care of yourself) isn’t the same as taking a “me” day.”
Self Care is doing simple things to take back control of our lives. And when we’re in the depths of despair (a la Anne Shirley), we need to take baby steps to reclaim what is ours.
It’s worth noting that depression as a mental illness is very different than having a bad day. I am no means a qualified doctor (read my disclaimer). I speak from my personal experience with both. These suggestions have helped me, plus others that I care about.
Do now. Set up for success.
1. Turn off your smartphone because you already know you should be turning it off
Smartphones are a Catch-22. The very thing that’s meant to keep you more productive and connected with others, is actually wasting your time and energy. Put it somewhere visible, but out of reach.
2. Legs up the wall, because there’s a general consensus among modern yogis that it has to power to cure whatever ails you (cite: Yoga Journal)
Viparita Karani or Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose is one of the only poses I can comfortably do. Not only do I feel more relaxed, my hamstrings do too.
Do this next.
3. Practice “mindful” hygiene by taking your time cleaning head to toe.
Face: don’t just throw water on your face. Take time to massage whatever cleanser into your skin and rinse with cool water.
Teeth: floss, brush, then mouthwash. Take the full 60 seconds on brushing, just like the dentist tells you.
Body: take a proper shower, and make it as long as you want. Check in with your body, and pay attention to how each body part feels. Wash your hair twice (cleanse + massage).
4. Make your bed, because there’s nothing like coming home to a bed perfectly made for yourself.
Even if it’s just straightening the same musty sheets, this simple act can do wonders for the mind and soul.
5. Clean out your refrigerator because it’s the first step in taking control of what you eat.
Don’t think about diets, nutrition or wellness just yet. Set yourself up for success by examining expiration dates, and reorganizing. Even if you don’t cook, make mental notes of food you’d like to eat, and see how food in your refrigerator can help meet those needs.
Do this week.
6. Read a controversial article to remind yourself NOT to be apathetic.
The point is to evoke emotion, even if it’s anger or frustration.
7. Take a walk while it’s sunny, because circadian rhythms are a thing.
When I was jet lagged, or was battling insomnia, my dad used to say “go outside, reset your pineal gland!”
Do this month
8. Research your dream vacation, even if it’s not realistic in the foreseeable future.
9. Research something you’ve always wanted to do because bucket lists are a real thing.
Any other tips you can recommend? Please tell me in the comments below! ⬇️