Practicing self-care activities may feel selfish or undeserved at first, likely because you’ve been told by yourself or others that you’re not worth the effort. But you ARE worth it and those people were wrong and your brain lies to you sometimes. Self-care is the foundation for healing and wellness, and it’s also a skill that can be learned by any other. Invest in yourself and take time to do simple and regular self-care activities that nurture your physical, emotional, and spiritual self. Learning how to take care of yourself is powerful medicine. Treat yourself as you would a dear friend and remind yourself that you are worthy and deserving of care. You are.
Examples of Physical Self-Care
- Hygiene! Bathe, brush your teeth, brush your hair, put on clean clothes. Depression can be such a heavy weight that it can be hard to get started, so start small.
- Sleep! Get enough sleep and get quality sleep. Have a bedtime routine, do what you can to make your bed comfortable, avoid caffeine for at least 6hours before you need to sleep, and consider falling sleep to guided meditations or visualizations.
- Move! Get up and go for a walk, do some yoga, or do a few crunches. Even just a few minutes of activity can help boost your mood and give you a sense of accomplishment. Gradually work up to 30 minutes of physical activity each day, but start small and be gentle with yourself. Depression is a weight you carry, so be patient. Try not to sit for more than an hour without moving around, even if just to walk a lap around your house or office.
- Take a good multi-vitamin to ensure your body is getting what it needs nutritionally. This can help with your energy levels.
- Take care of your skin. It’s the largest organ in your body, and it’s amazing how big an impact dry or itchy skin can have on your mood.
- Go outside! Get a daily dose of sunlight and fresh air. You can combine this with physical activity if you want, but you can also sit on your porch or in your car with the windows down and still benefit.
Examples of Emotional Self-Care
- Do things that make you feel good—even when you don’t feel like it. Give yourself a scalp massage or foot massage, talk to a friend, pet an animal, bird watch, or watch children play. The options are endless, so spend some time exploring memories of times you felt good and what you were doing.
- Work to challenge or cope with negative thinking. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) all have many techniques that you can learn and use. There are some great workbooks out there, too!
- Replace unhealthy coping skills (like drinking, smoking, or self-harm) with healthy coping skills instead.
- Laugh! Watch a funny video, talk to your funniest friend, read jokes, or spend time with goofy kids or pets. Explore and find what works for you, and aim for at least one real laugh (or even chuckle) each day.
Read more: The Big List of Coping Statements
Examples of Spiritual Self-Care
- Spend time somewhere where you can feel part of something bigger than yourself. Go to church, look at the night sky, sing in a choir, spend time in a forest, or join a community with goals based on your deepest values. Your solution will be unique to you, and it is nobody’s place to tell you your way of spiritual self-care is right or wrong. It is yours.
- Reach out and stay connected to supportive people, either offline or online. Being part of a community gives you a sense of being part of something beyond yourself, which can feed your spiritual side.
- Meditate, pray, or chant in whichever way feels most right to you. Send energy or loving thoughts, or light a candle and reflect on something important to you.
- Find and read (or listen to) books that will promote your spiritual self. These will vary widely depending on your spiritual path.
- Listen to music or spend time with art that moves you deeply. Spirituality can be secular.
You might also be interested in The Big List of Coping Statements