Setting aside some time to take care of our physical, mental and emotional health should be an integral part of our lives. Self-care helps us cope with stress and anxiety, it gives us a chance to work through challenging situations and provides a boost to our overall self-esteem. But what if you just don’t have the energy to do it right now? What self-care activities can you do when you feel this way?
One thing that is really important to understand about self-care is that it is not about being happy. That may seem like an odd thing to say, but self-care is about being aware of when you need to take a moment and do something that lets you self-soothe, heal or get a mental reset. A positive side effect might be that you create some happiness, but that should not be its aim. Self-care is a tool that we need to learn how to use effectively, especially when we’re experiencing a lack of mental or emotional vitality
It is also important to note that self-care is not a cure for any type of depression. If you’re feeling overwhelmed to the point where it’s interfering with your everyday life, or your ability to function in a healthy way, you should seek further, more in-depth/professional support (some useful links are included at the end of this article).
I’m currently experiencing some situational depression and anxiety that has left me feeling exhausted and struggling to take care of myself as well as I normally do. I’ve had to adapt my self-care tools to include ones that take little effort or time to complete. By starting small, I’ve found that it’s had a knock-on effect that accumulates to help boost my resiliency and overall energy to a level where I can start to step out of the low ebb I’m weathering.
By creating repetitious, small moments to self-care that don’t sap already diminished energy levels, we can all start to feel the accomplishment of doing something positive for ourselves that helps us achieve, and accumulate, a sense of wellbeing we may have lost for a while.
Here are 6 Small Self-Care Steps …
1. Give yourself permission to let certain things go if you’re currently struggling to do them (cleaning, laundry, wearing make-up, sleeping well, etc). Our everyday routines might get disrupted, and that’s okay. Don’t focus on what you’re not doing and become overly critical but instead view it as a temporary change.
2. Do one thing consistently at the beginning of your day. It could be as simple as starting off with a cup of tea and no social media browsing (something I’ve implemented) or making your bed as soon as you get up. Morning routines improve our overall mental health and can set intentions for the day.
3. Use an aromatherapy oil diffuser/mister for 5-10 minutes a day, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. It’s like a mini-meditation that will help you relax and start to clear your thoughts. For some ideas about different essential oil blends you can use, click here.
4. Do a few minutes of colouring-in or origami — they’re both creative but don’t require too much thought. You can relax and put your focus on something without it becoming too involved that helps stimulate your brain without overwhelming it.
5. Declutter one thing — pick a cupboard or drawer or bag, desk, computer or phone files, etc to tidy and sort out. It’s a simple way to start reducing stress and get on track with returning to a routine.
6. Get some sunshine — if you don’t have the energy or time to go for a walk during the day, open your curtains, sit next to the window for a few minutes (or on your porch/in your garden) and just take some time to focus on your breathing and feel the light on your face. Sunlight helps boost your serotonin which is a mood-boosting, calming hormone that can help you deal with some stresses in your life.
Further Info & Support:
NAMI Helpline – a free, nationwide U.S. resource that offers experienced peer-support guidance and advice
CheckPoint – global (by country) resources for mental health support
Why Self-Care Is Hard For Depressed Individuals – Psychology Today
Why You Struggle With Self-Care – NAMI (National Alliance On Mental Illness)