I’m currently laying in bed next to my boyfriend, drinking tea, and watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. While it may sound like I am just vegging out watching bad reality television and being lazy as hell (which I am), for me this is an act of self care. I am spending time with a person I love, laughing a lot at a stupid/fantastic show, and relaxing after days of job hunting and struggling with a bad spout of major depression.
I, along with many people that struggle with mental health, forget how to perform basic acts of self care. Weather it be having a regular sleep schedule, taking our medication when we are supposed to, or even taking showers regularly. It can be really difficult on days when we barely have the motivation to get out of bed. It can still be difficult even when we are seemingly doing every “contrary-action” and are too busy to notice that we aren’t actually taking care of ourselves.
Self-care is really important as a self-soothing resource, a distraction, and something to lift us out of the stagnant trap that mental illness can create. We are progressing even when it feels like we’re taking five steps backwards.
Along with the help of a qualified mental health professional, have our own toolkit of self care can be really helpful.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some days where literally all I have the energy to do is to watch a movie. However, there are some things I try to do when I’m having a day:
1. Ask myself these three questions:
Did you take your meds today?
Do you need to drink water?
Are you hungry?
2. Take things one step at a time. If I try to mentally go over all of the things I have to do I run the risk of getting overwhelmed and just shutting down. So I just try to do the next indicated step.
3. I take a shower and practice mindfulness. A shower can be daunting, but it can really help with feelings of lethargy. Really good smelling soaps and shampoo help me. I notice how the water feels on my skin, how the soap smells and feels, take my time with massaging the shampoo in my hair, and focus on breathing in and out slowly. I notice negative feelings that come up, observe them without judgement or attachment and try to let them pass. Think, “I am having worrying thoughts…” vs. ,”This crazy bad thing could happen or that crazy bad thing could happen.” Because bad shower thoughts happen.
4. I put on a face mask or paint my nails and watch cartoons. For me this means Bob’s burgers, but listening to music works too.
5. I hang out with my animals. Fortunately I have a really lazy dog, a cat, and two birds. I realize not everyone wants or is capable of getting a pet, but cuddling something that loves you unconditionally without any words when you’re feeling like crap is pretty awesome and has helped me tremendously.
So that’s my list. I will be doing self care Sunday every week with more resources, experience, and ideas.