Self-care is a unique challenge when you're struggling through depression. The motivation isn't there and the connection with self feels like it has been severed.
In this article, I'm going to share my personal self-care tips for self-care when you're depressed.
Self-care when you're depressed
Most people in general struggle when it comes to implementing self-care. In our day and age of phone scrolling and the constant need for stimulation, self-care tends to get put on our "to-do later" list.
But when a person is living with depression the motivation to do anything is majorly impacted, much less taking time for self-care.
The beautiful irony is that self-care is the very thing that would begin to heal the depression. Self-care is the lifeline that will begin to pull you back to your inner self.
I firmly believe that depression is the result of a disconnection from self. I don't believe it's a random illness that one just suffers from for no reason. Just like I don't believe that ANY illness or condition is random.
All illnesses, mental or physical, are messages from our bodies and higher selves. There is a severance of self and the depression is the message to reconnect.
I have been diagnosed and treated for depression and bipolar disorder in the past. What I've come to find in my journey of deep, restorative self-care is that I was disconnected from myself, especially the parts that were hurting and needed healing.
Below are my own personal tips for self-care if you're struggling through the depths of depression. My disclaimer is that I am not a doctor, therapist, or a psychologist.
My self-care advice isn't treatment. I'm a self-care author who has experienced depression and am simply sharing what has helped me.
1. Surrender and give yourself grace
First of all, you need to let go of any guilt or pressure. That stuff doesn't help when you're already lacking motivation.
Honor where you are and how you're feeling–don't berate yourself. You're in a valley right now and that's not a bad thing. There is a lot of growth and learning that comes from being in contrast.
I always picture contrast to be like a slingshot and how far tightly it's pulled back. When you're experiencing strong contrast, such as empty or horrible feeling emotions, your slingshot is pulled waaaay far back.
When that slingshot is released, it's going to take you so much further in a short amount of time than other people because in your contrast, you very strongly asked for the opposite with crystal clear clarity.
I frequently use the example of the time I hit financial rock bottom and turned my situation around in 3 months after learning about the law of attraction.
My contrast was so strong and painful that it gave me an extremely clear vision of what I did want.
Hitting rock bottom in any fashion can honestly be one of the most transformative and amazing experiences of your life. Contrast brings clarity, so don't beat yourself up for swimming in it right now. Things can and will change.
Be easy about it and take it one day at a time. The contrast has a higher purpose.
2. Your main goal: reconnection with self
There are all kinds of self-care ranging from your shallow, standard advice (paint your nails and giggle with friends!) to deeply soul restoring.
You're going for the soul restoring kind because that's exactly what your soul is calling you to do through the depression.
The depression is the plea–the invitation from your higher self.
I look at it like a therapy session with my higher self. Show up and start small. Your soul isn't asking for anything more.
I would suggest activities that have helped you to feel connected in the past. One thing that has worked really well for me has been to journal what I'm feeling and thinking to help sort through and release it.
Not only does journaling lighten all of the emotions I'm carrying, but it's as if divine responses come to my mind when I'm writing. It's actually a form of divination (receiving messages from a spiritual source) so writing truly is therapeutic.
I can't even begin to describe the breakthrough I had with that book and workbook. It was actually the first book I read when I first began practicing my self-care routine. It helped me heal a very deep part within myself that I had been carrying since I was a little girl.
Self-care doesn't need to be a big production–it's actually better if it starts out small.
It's like going on a date with someone new...you don't know them well enough yet to know what you both enjoy doing most together. You find out a little bit more each time you hang out.
With self-care, you slowly build up getting to know yourself. You don't know much of what you need or want at first, so it's best to start with something small that you feel drawn towards.
Does a healing book or journaling draw any interest at all? Have you had success with it in the past? Is there something else that's popping into your head? Do you feel connected in nature, or in using your hands to create something?
Ask yourself what you'd like to do, like you would a partner. A bookstore date? A walk through the park? A long drive? A phone call?
Don't feel like it has to be forced or perfect. Just take a small step forward towards self-care. Your soul won't leave you hanging, I can promise you that.
Keep showing up and the healing will begin.
3. Try guided meditations
The thing that I love about guided meditations is that they're perfect for beginners and anyone with a hyper active mind. They're also an excellent, perhaps the best way, to begin connecting with your higher self.
They quiet your mind, realign your focus and lift you out of yourself for a brief moment, which is long enough to begin to shift your vibration and reality.
I also love that there are free guided meditations for almost anything. If there's a specific part of yourself or your body that you want to heal, just search for it on YouTube or any other meditation app.
On YouTube I simply create a list of my favorite meditations and listen to one before I fall asleep. Very often I fall asleep before it's over but again, I don't beat myself up over it. I just let it be.
You can read my post here for my favorite guided meditations.
4. Get very picky
I want you to get very protective of yourself. Like the stereotypical father with a shotgun protecting his teenage daughter from anything and anyone beneath her.
But instead, you're protecting your energy and vibration.
In re-establishing the connection with yourself, you really don't have the time or luxury to be surrounded by negative energy. That means you need to clean up your social media feeds, turn the drama off your tv, and distance yourself from people that bring you down.
Those people on Facebook who constantly share angry political articles or dramatic updates....UNFOLLOW. They won't even know because you haven't unfriended them, but you won't see their rants in your feed anymore.
The media that likes to highlight everything going wrong in the world instead of all the doors that were held today for others, all the smiles given to strangers, all the cars who let each other in on the roads, all the coffees paid for by the person ahead in line...TURN THE MEDIA OFF.
Those people in your real life who love to complain, who like to make themselves or you a victim...WALK AWAY.
Anything that makes you feel bad needs to get the boot. That includes your own negative self-talk or ranting, online or to other people. QUIT IT.
Your energy right now is the most important thing and you should treat it like a little tiny seedling that needs lots of sunshine, water and care.
Protecting my energy has powerfully shifted my life. I can barely even tell you who the president is and I'm not sorry about it.
Damn right I'm living over here in my bubble. My emotional well-being comes before anything else. I protect it more fiercely than the dad with the shotgun.
I can't help anyone without my own oxygen mask on first.
5. Slow gratitude
Another practice that has powerfully shifted my life and brought me out of my depression and anxiety has been gratitude.
Gratitude used to really anger me because I didn't understand it. I didn't want to be grateful for what little I perceived that I had. I didn't want to be told to be grateful for the shitty situation that was my life.
But the truth is that gratitude energetically shifts your reality and begins taking you in a new direction.
Not in a hokey way. Not in a self-sacrificing way. In a scientifically proven way.
You have a lot to gain by allowing the feeling of gratitude to flow through your body. It's not settling–it's opening the door and inviting beautiful things to come into your life.
I call it slow gratitude because like with everything else, start slow and small.
You can even be grateful for things like "Brenda left me alone today at work." As long as it brings you a feeling of gratitude, that's all that matters.
You cannot be at the bottom of a hole and feel like the person who is standing at the top, which is why you start small and begin slowing climbing out.
Gratitude is a fast track that will begin quickly lifting you out of the hole. There's a mysterious power behind gratitude that literally transforms your reality into something you could've never imagined.
Think of 10 things you're grateful for every night before falling asleep. Try it and see what happens.
6. Tell a new story
I love listening to Abraham Hicks on YouTube, almost on a daily basis, and one of the things they always talk about is telling a new story.
What you speak out of your mouth becomes your reality. This means you need to stop claiming the depression as if it's yours. If you do, it will continue to be yours no matter what you do.
"But I am depressed, that's the truth," you say. Every moment is a new beginning, so to that I say "You were depressed, but this is a new moment."
Begin saying things like:
- I am healing
- I am getting better every day
- I am discovering who I am
- I am reconnecting with myself
- I am letting this be easy
- I am going through a transformation
- I am stepping into the next version of me
- My contrast is bringing me closer to myself
- My contrast is better defining what I want
- My contrast is not in vain
- My contrast holds purpose
- My contrast is an invitation for growth
- My mind is healing itself
- My body is healing itself
- My natural state is love
The more you speak truths like this rather than "I suffer from depression", "I'm depressed", "I have a mental illness", "I have a chemical imbalance", the quicker your experience will begin to shift for the better.
As Abraham says, don't speak for your limitations. Speak for your wellbeing.
Again, this isn't hokey stuff made up to put a big bandaid over a wound. It's scientifically proven that what we tell ourselves has a physical effect on our bodies, which translates into our realities.
The more you tell yourself there's something wrong with you, the more that truth must persist. So just start being more aware of the way you're speaking to yourself and others.
Stop claiming what you don't want and start shifting towards what you do want.
Depression can be a gift if you choose for it to be so. It's a divine cue that you are in need of reconnection. It's nothing to be ashamed of–think of all the illnesses there are in the world and that they are ALL divine calls to heal the self.
Even the standard cold and flu is a divine cue that someone needs to slow down and reconnect.
It holds a purpose and you should honor that. Honestly, be grateful that depression has shown up in your life. Add it to your gratitude list. Beautiful revelations and growth come from the darkness.
I hope you found this post helpful. I want you to know you aren't alone. You're here, reading this post I wrote for a reason. I'm leaving love right here for you in this space. And I know I'll see you at the top of the mountain again soon.
Jessica Dimas is the creator of Manifesting Magic with the Moon, a holistic self-care ritual bundle.