Self-care is engaging in daily activities to care for our physical well-being and health, as well as activities to mitigate emotional stressors. When a person experiences depression they may experience symptoms of appetite loss, fatigue, sleep irregularity and/or loss of interest in activities that once brought you pleasure (NIMH). These symptoms can make practicing self-care difficult for many people affected by depression. So I want to share with you 5 tricks that have helped me maintain self-care when depressed.

Maintaining Self-Care When Depressed is Important

While in undergrad, when I would experience a depressive episode I would fall into a state of disorder. Getting out of bed to brush my teeth, let alone go to class, seemed like a journey to Mars. I would either spend my days in bed without a meal or overspend ordering take-out because just thinking of what to make was too much. To add to the disorder, my room would always become a junkyard, as I simply kicked books, clothes, or food boxes off my bed onto the floor. But this always drove me deeper into depression and left me doing tedious work on my good days.

How to Maintain Self-Care When Depressed

Over time I began to find self-care solutions that worked for me, but 2 years ago I was able to work with my last therapist to create “daily minimums”. Daily minimums are essentially the basic activities to maintain self-care when depressed. These are the activities needed to maintain physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing. My daily minimums included: daily prayer, eating at least 2 meals a day, texting a friend, tackling one upcoming task and taking walks when overwhelmed. These activities helped me to maintain physical health, but also provided emotional outlets and feelings of closeness on days when I just wanted to give up on life.

Here are 5 Tips to Help You Maintain Self-Care When Depressed:

  1. Meal-Prep:  It can be so daunting to cook when you are going through a depressive episode, but you have to eat. It can be so easy to overspend on eating unhealthy take out or eat almost nothing all day, but both options are unhealthy for your mind and your body. One trick I love is to meal prep. There are many ways to achieve this: cooking for 3-4 days one or twice a week, spending one day cooking a month’s worth of meals to freeze or doing all the prep work to easily cook multiple meals with minimal effort during the week.My favorite method is to use a crockpot to meal prep freezable recipes on my good days likes beans, soups, and chillis. Check the Coore Lifestyle Pinterest, click here, for our favorite quick and easy recipes.
  2. Have a Routine: Having a routine will give your day structure and help you to transition through your day. Set times to do the necessary things and things that bring you joy: a time for quiet time alone, a time to eat a meal, a time to go to for a walk… etc. This will help you to not leave your self-care subject to your mood. Also, determine the most stressful or difficult part of your day to overcome. Then create a routine around making that task more manageable. For me, I have an evening routine that makes starting my day less of an obstacle. It is also helpful to establish a consistent sleep pattern. Even if you can’t fall asleep try laying in bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning.
  3. Skip the Unessentials: Determine the things that not immediately essential to maintaining productivity and balance within your overall life. Finish your homework that is due next week, but maybe skip laundry and opt to buy a pack of plain tees and undies instead. Taking non-essential things off your plate can make the essential things feel more manageable.
  4. Clean the Essentials: If showering is just TOO MUCH, start with just washing your face. Then work your way up to cleaning the essentials: teeth, privates, and underarms. This isn’t an everyday fix, but life gets real sometimes. The goal is to give yourself a little grace, and meet yourself where you are at. I personally enjoy just sitting in the shower or tub if I feel too drained to stand and shower or draw a bath.
  5.  Plan Ahead: Many days the small things like picking an outfit, doing your hair or showering might make seem like daunting tasks that prevent you from getting out of bed. Make life easier for your future self by getting a low-maintenance hairstyle like braids or twists. Before you go to bed or on a good day during the week pick out one or more simple pre-planned outfits. 

Bonus: Ask others to help you out by giving you a check-in call. We were not designed to make it through life alone, so don’t feel afraid to need help.

Do you have to accomplish all of these? NO. However, each one you accomplish may help you maintain self-care when depressed. This will help you to maintain a sense of normalcy and more quickly overcome your depressive episode. If you are suffering from severe depression, please find a qualified therapist. A qualified therapist can provide you with a diagnosis and help you develop an appropriate treatment plan. 

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Hey Sis,

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