So, due to my most recent run through the depression gauntlet, I’ve decided to put together a post with some of the self-care resources that I’ve found.
“A Self-Care Action Plan” video on the How to Adult YouTube Channel has Hank Green talking about how to be prepared to take care of yourself, regardless of the level of your mental health in order to maintain it. He points out that self-care is not a reward, but a vital part of ensuring your health and ability to efficiently function. He cites “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie with the notion that not only is it okay to take care of yourself, but it’s also smart to do so. You have a responsibility to yourself and are your own responsibility.
Green also talks about the Lifehacker article titled “Why Self Care Is So Important” by Kristin Wong that can be summarized as follows: Self-care helps prevent burnout, reduces the negative psychological & physical effects of stress, & helps you refocus on what is true and important. The article emphasizes that it is more productive, not less, to aside time for yourself.
Once you’ve recognized and accepted that it’s okay to take time for yourself, the next step is to find out what works. What does self-care mean to you? Some obvious (or maybe not-so-obvious) areas that facilitate self-care are nutrition, exercise, sleep, hydration, and taking small breaks (like walks). These baseline things being taken care of could be all that is necessary to push past a feeling of overwhelm or stress. This is discussed a bit in The Internet Wants to Help You Take Care of Yourself by Julie Beck.
Beck also cites a little website that I have quickly come to adore called “You Feel Like Shit: An Interactive Self-Care Guide” created by Jace Harr. I find it pretty difficult to recognize and take care of myself at times. This website basically acts as a flow-chart using kind words and suggestions to help you take care of your physical and emotional needs. (I happen to be clicking through right now, as it’s helping me to make sure I’m on top of the things I need to be to keep moving forward.) The website mentions that a lot of the language and such are aimed at common mental-health problems, but that this could really be for anyone who’s struggling through the day or needs some guidance getting started.
Another resource listed by the How to Adult video is “45 Simple Self-Care Practices for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul” by Ellen Bard. This list goes through 15 “Tiny Self-Care Ideas” for each the Mind, the Body, and the Soul to help you get out of whatever rut you’re in and make space for yourself. Some of my favorites from this list are “scratch off a lurker on your to-do list, something that’s been there for ages and you’ll never do”, “stretch out the kinks”, “narrow your food choices”, “write out your thoughts”, and “choose who you spend you time with today”.
The first item on the list is to create a “compliments file”, or a “digital warm and fuzzy file” as Hank Green elaborates. Fill up the file with positive quotes, cute animal photos, a list of compliments you’ve received, or whatever else helps you get into a better head-space. Make sure the file is ample and flexible to support you how you need. T. Michael Martin, former host of How to Adult, had a spreadsheet of self-care actions with different actions for different situations. I like the thought behind this, because it’s important to recognize that having a bad day at work needs a different self-care action that being in a depression slump.
Finally, the video says that it’s important to learn how to recognize warning signs. Keep an eye out for patterns in your behavior so that you can consult your list and follow through with the appropriate care for the situation. Also, if you need help, reach out. Friends, family, community resources, whatever. You don’t have to be alone in taking care of yourself, but you do need to take the first step in asking for help when you need it.
A couple other helpful videos from the How to Adult Channel are “What If Depression Followed You Online?” and “6 Tactics to Combat Work Stress”. I want to go more in depth on the second video here at some point, too. I might be doing that in the near future.