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I can officially say I no longer have depression.
Sometimes I have down days where it seems the sky is a touch grayer than usual.
While on other days I might panic that the depression is coming back and I have a few days of despair.
I’m not gonna lie though it’s normally my hormones or a lack of sleep.
And that is why I’m so darn obsessed with self-care because my self-care routine cured me of depression.
Now before people start getting het up that I obviously didn’t have very severe depression if a bubble bath and my favorite chocolate could fix it, I have two things to say.
One, my depression was incredibly severe, I was suicidal at one point and at other times I could barely get out of bed. This went on for around three to four years.
Two, self-care is not just bubble baths and a cup of tea. Self-care actually means taking responsibility for your mental and physical health, so it can encompass a lot. Because no, obviously a bubble bath and my favorite chocolate would not cure severe depression.
But before we go any further, a quick disclaimer: Now I’m obviously not a doctor or medical professional, just someone sharing my own journey in the hopes that it might help someone else out there.
If you think you have depression or any other mental health problems make sure you see a medical professional, and if you’re having suicidal thoughts know that there are people that can help. Trust me there really are!
Okay, now let’s get started (because I know you’re desperate to know about my daily self-care routine for depression and get your FREE daily mental health checklist!)
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Table of Contents
- What does self-care mean?
- The importance and benefits of self-care
- Depression and Routine – Why it’s Important
- Prefer to watch this post as a video…
- My own daily self-care routine for depression
- Can I use this daily self-care routine for anxiety as well?
- I know what you’re thinking, that all sounds fantastic, but how do I get into self-care?
What does self-care mean?
Self-care is actually pretty simple, it’s just you taking responsibility for your own physical and mental health.
Now, of course, it’s easier said than done. But the concept itself is easy to wrap our heads around.
And self-care can be many things. Traditionally we think of it as taking a bubble bath, painting our nails and having a cup of tea.
But taking a shower is an example of self-care, eating properly, going to therapy, watching Netflix, not watching Netflix… The list can go on and on, and they are all forms of self-care.
I actually wrote a really in-depth post about all the different types of self-care, when you need them and examples of self-care activities for each type, which you can read here! It’s full of self-care tips for depression, so well worth a read if you want to know more.
The importance and benefits of self-care
A.K.A. why you should bother with self-care!
Well, without my own self-care routine there is a very high chance I would still be suffering from depression.
Self-care helps you feel healthy, stops burn out and empowers you to be the best version of yourself.
I talk more about the importance of self-care in this post, but at the end of the day how can any of us not see the benefits of taking more responsibility for our own health and wellness!
Depression and Routine – Why it’s Important
Okay, now you know why self-care in general is important, what’s the significance of having a self-care routine for depression or any mental health issue?
Basically, routines tell our brain and body we’re safe.
Think about it for a second, if you are massively stressed or in danger you don’t do the same things every day because you’re dealing with that stressor or dangerous situation. Like back in caveman times you might normally wake up at sunrise, go forage for some berries, look after your kids, etc, etc. But if there was a tiger chasing you then you’re not going to stop a pick some berries… So the disruption in routine acts as a signal that all is not well.
A signal we really don’t want to give our brains when we have depression.
Therefore routines are super important because they do the opposite, they signal to our brains that everything is well and we don’t need to worry!
Which is exactly what we want, a nice, relaxed brain.
Prefer to watch this post as a video…
My own daily self-care routine for depression
It’s why you’re all here after all, you want to find out exactly what I did that helped cure my depression.
Just please remember, this is a routine that worked for me, that doesn’t mean it will work for you (although certain aspects have some serious scientific research behind them that suggests it would work for many people!)
One – Took my medication
I think this is something that should be at the top of everyone’s self-care routine. Whether your medication is actual prescribed medication, or in my case a supplement that seriously worked (I took 5HTP and wow!!! You can read more about my experiences with 5HTP in this post.)
Taking your meds has to be number one.
Two – Didn’t neglect the Big Six
- Eat some actual food
- Drink plenty of water
- Get enough sleep (seven to nine hours ideally)
- Move your body for 30 minutes each day
- Go outside (I liked to combine this one and the one above by going for a walk outside)
- Socialize with another human being
These six things are based loosely off of a similar list of things from the book The Depression Cure, where Dr. Stephen Ilardi realized that lifestyle changes were actually having more of a positive impact on his depressed patient’s well being than the medications he was prescribing.
I read that book when I was very ill and started to implement his suggestions, I ended up tweaking them slightly to suit what I realized I needed and so they became the Big Six.
Don’t underestimate what the power of a decent night’s sleep, some sunshine and saying hello to the cashier at your local grocery store can do for you.
I know when you’re depressed even getting out of bed becomes a huge task, but honestly, implementation of the Big Six as much as I could really was a game-changer.
Three – Keep your space clean, tidy and nice
I know what you’re thinking, how is that going to help with depression, but it does.
Have you ever heard of the clutter depression cycle? It’s all to do with decision fatigue.
Basically, we all have a finite amount of decisions we can make in a day before we just can’t anymore, and when you’re depressed, or ill in any way, the amount of decisions you can make is even less.
You’ve probably experienced decision fatigue even if you didn’t realize at the time.
Ever come home from a busy day at work and not been able to decide what to have for dinner? That’s decision fatigue…
As you can imagine, decision fatigue only adds to that horrible, completely overwhelmed and unmotivated feeling you get with depression.
So what does clutter have to do with it?
All that clutter that’s currently out, that you see every day, requires a decision from you.
Whether that decision is to put it away, throw it away, or even to just put off dealing with it until later, that’s still a decision made.
There might be twenty plus items on the kitchen table and so you end up making twenty decisions in a split second, and every time you walk past the kitchen table you will be making those decisions all over again.
Then, of course, there is the rest of the mess and clutter around the house that every time you walk past you will be making a decision on…
It’s no wonder you feel panicky, anxious and seriously overwhelmed, or helpless and unable to relax and recharge.
You are constantly making all these decisions because of all that clutter and untidiness, and if you’re depressed you already have less decision-making juice in the bank!
My solution; clean and tidy up your space for ten minutes each day.
Just that little bit will make you feel so much better and start to reduce those decisions you have to make.
Four – Plan out your day the night before
Again, this seems like an odd thing to suggest to help depression but hear me out.
A massive part of depression is that overwhelming feeling that can paralyze you and send you straight back to bed unable to face the day.
I often found I would get up in the morning and it would seem like there was such an insurmountable list of stuff to be dealt with that I just couldn’t handle it.
However, if I planned out my day the night before and wrote down everything I needed to do in the order I was going to do it, it no longer seemed so scary.
Instead, I could just focus on one task at a time and cross that off my list, then once I had completed that task I could move onto the next.
Sure, on some days I only managed the first couple of items, shower and get dressed. But on other days I completed the whole list and wow, what a sense of accomplishment that gave me.
To help you plan your days I actually included a couple of bonus pages with the free depression daily checklist you can download. A few printables to help you plan your day and some instructions on how to use them!
So, let’s now put all these items together so you can see what my daily self-care routine for depression (and anxiety) looked like:
- Take your medication
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat some actual food
- Go for a walk outside for 30 minutes
- Socialize with another human being
- Spend ten minutes tidying or cleaning your area
- Plan the next day
- Go to sleep at a reasonable time
Pretty simple but it worked.
Can I use this daily self-care routine for anxiety as well?
Yes! In fact, you could even call this an anxiety self-care checklist as well because you would want to complete the same actions!
One thing I would say is you might want to add deep breathing to the checklist if anxiety is more of an issue for you as this can really help to calm you down.
I know what you’re thinking, that all sounds fantastic, but how do I get into self-care?
As in, how do you muster up the motivation to actually complete the daily self-care checklist?
It’s a catch 22 right? You feel unable to do those things that will make you feel better because the depression causes you to be unmotivated and overwhelmed.
And yet, doing those things will help reduce the depression and the unmotivated and overwhelmed feelings.
My advice is to take it one item at a time. Call it a win if you manage to tick off one thing from the checklist. When you’re regularly doing that, call it a win if you can check two things off the checklist.
If there is something on the checklist you absolutely hate doing, is there another, fun way to get the same effect without doing that exact action.
Maybe you find going for a walk outside seriously boring. Instead, you could do yoga in your garden, or sit outside and have your lunch and go to the gym for a swim later to move your body.
Maybe you detest cleaning and tidying, is there space in your budget to hire a cleaner? Or would your housemate or partner mind taking charge of keeping your home clean and tidy?
Don’t do stuff you don’t enjoy just because it’s meant to be good for you, one size fits all does not work when it comes to self-care!
But in order to make self-care happen, it really just needs to be scheduled in to help it become a routine. So make sure you give yourself enough time in the morning to have a good breakfast, do a quick tidy and take a walk outside.
You won’t always manage it, some days you might be feeling really bad, other days life just happens and you have to prioritize other things. And that’s okay, but if you have space in your life to do the self-care actions you need then there is far more chance they will happen!
Also, don’t forget to be flexible. Completing everything on your self-care routine checklist is great, but don’t worry if you don’t manage it every day.
Really you only need to do 80% of the actions 80% of the time to see results.
It’s not about how many days in a row you have ticked everything off your checklist, but being consistent in doing the actions. A missed day or two, or even a week or two really won’t matter that much over an entire lifetime!
Don’t forget to download your daily self-care checklist AND the bonus, printable worksheets, just click the button below to grab your copy!