Those who suffer from depression find daily functioning - whether it’s doing small or big things - difficult. Oftentimes, the struggle begins upon waking up in the morning. “Normal” daily activities such as brushing teeth, maintaining personal hygiene, doing chores, leaving the house, socializing, working or studying can feel like monumental tasks that require every ounce of energy. Sometimes, these activities can even feel impossible to do.
Depression can become debilitating and it is an extremely challenging mental health disorder. We need to learn how to work with depression in order to manage ourselves and our mental health, as a means to get through the days. To feel better, one needs to establish how much they can do in a day and then do it step by step.
Here’s a few things you can do to look after yourself when you are suffering from depression:
Adjust daily tasks and chores
Adjust tasks and responsibilities to be more suitable for you and your current mental state. Remember that it’s okay if you can only manage one thing a day. Here’s a few things you can do:
The 5 second rule: Count to 5 and then do the task. It also helps for getting out of bed (it’s a neurological tip).
Put toothpaste on your toothbrush the night before, so it’s ready in the morning.
Wear clothes that are comfortable. Keep a few options somewhere easily accessible.
Do one house chore per day/week.
Sit in the shower to wash or use cleansing body wipes.
Simplify food by preparing easy meals, buying ready made meals if you have to or eating small things throughout the day.
If possible, ask someone to put on the shower for you, to make a meal, to wash your hair, etc.
2. Remember: “Only the Next Step Matters”
When suffering from depression, everything feels unbearable and overwhelming. To get through the day, only think of the “next step” so that the day feels less intimidating. Be conscious of this coping tool.
Have a consistent daily routine (as much as possible) that feels achievable and safe.
Only focus on the next task or step after you have done the previous one. What is next?
As soon as you’ve completed one step or task, give yourself some positive affirmation and reassurance - you have just accomplished something!
Have breaks when you need to (whether it’s sitting down for a moment, needing to relax, etc).
Envision each day as a pathway - focus only on one step at a time until you reach the end of the day.
3. Have your moments
Everything feels harder with depression and you often just want to collapse from the intensity of it all. Show yourself compassion and provide reassurance. Have a moment to just “be” and feel what you need to, feel with no judgement. You can do this by:
Having a moment to yourself each day - as small or big as you are able to. Examples: In the car, in the bathroom, while walking, in the shower, drinking something, on the toilet, in a line, etc
Breathing deeply, give yourself a hug, a word of reassurance, a cry, a scream, or have a still moment.
Rest as much as possible throughout the day and week whenever you get a chance.
4. Practice self-care and resting
Depression comes with fatigue and fogginess, so rest and self-care are important for our minds and bodies. Self-care and rest has no specific “look” - do it however works for you. Here’s a few ideas:
Sit outside in the sun a few minutes a day for Vitamin D.
Do something compassionate.
Watch a show, read a book, draw or have a rant.
Rest your body and mind; massage yourself, meditate, sleep early (not during day), lie and exist, close your eyes.
In small doses, do something that you used to enjoy.
If you are struggling with depression and need professional help or a safe space, please contact us at www.breakingthechalk.com