Self-care is a skill that many find they have forgotten about when the going gets tough. Research shows that when we are suffering though a depression that one of the first things to go is self-reward. Simple as it may seem, treating yourself good makes you feel good. They can be indulgent, self-loving, nurturing interests, allowing time for peace and quiet, and even reconnecting with childhood interests we may have forgotten about.
Self-Care: Alone or With Others?
Personally, I try to teach people how to participate in self-care as an individual skill. What I mean by that is self-care can certainly be done with others however, you will have more control over your moods if you are able to help yourself in difficult times through self-care completely on your own. When we are feeling bad about ourselves, we might be less likely to reach out to others. Many people suffer alone without close support systems, so the main person you can rely on to take care of you is you, if you have the skills. Here are some great self-care activities that have been helpful for others, maybe you might find that would be helpful for you too!
1. Reconnecting with Nature- If you can’t get yourself to a local park, why not go for a quick stroll around your neighborhood. Sometimes just observing the nature around you or walking to the beat of your favorite song can cause a lift in your spirits that can last longer than the walk itself. Exercise also boosts endorphin’s that helps combat low moods. When I was little I used to collect flowers and leaves and stick them in between two sheets of wax paper and label them. Now I have to remind myself to be more observant of the world around me or else I might miss it all as I am checking my email on my phone. Don’t let the beauty of life pass by you at 70 miles per hour down the freeway, get out and interact with it!
2. Reconnecting with childhood interests: Like to sing but too shy? As a child would you explore the woods as though you were about to uncover a treasure? Maybe you liked to swing on the swings and imagine yourself flying off when it got to the highest point. Taking a break and reconnecting with your inner child in carefree fun is a positive way to allow yourself to just be you, at your very core. Many childhood activities can also be adopted to adult lifestyles. Wandering in the woods can turn into hiking. Drawing pictures could be taking an art class. Going camping could turn into going down to the local livery and renting yourself a one person (+dog if applicable) kayak.
3. The little things that count: Sometimes it is just something small but intentional that can turn a run of the mill day into somethings special. Here are a few: getting a manicure and/or pedicure, buying yourself that $5 in season bouquet from the local grocery store, spending a morning in the local farmers market with a fresh cup of coffee or tea and a homemade muffin from a vendor, finding a book that takes your mind off of things and provides mindless entertainment, sending a card to an old friend you have lost touch with, going to the dog park, making a friendship bracelet, changing your sheets, baking your favorite cookies, taking a bath, writing a letter of support to yourself.
Self-Care with Others
Once you figure out various go-to resources to give yourself an emotional hug, integrating others into your routine will further enhance your mood. The key is however that what you do and who you do it with can make or break the self-care routine. Pick supportive people that you enjoy spending time with and activities that make spending time together easy.
1. Getting together for lunch or coffee: Meet your friend at a local cafe and enjoy each other’s conversation. Depending on where you are this might be a great time to do some people watching and to remove yourself from your life for a short while.
2. Head back to your favorite park and go for a couples bike ride. Bring a backpack with some snacks and throw in a nice walk or picnic for good measure.
3. Go to the movies. Take an hour or two off life and get lost in a lighthearted tale. Try to avoid movies that will only contribute to low moods and pick ones that are light and funny or don’t focus on your source of worries, like romance if you are having relationship difficulties. Sometimes a good old fashioned action flick will avoid all sore spots and provide some mindless entertainment!