If you’re a mama (or anyone) suffering from depression, then it’s likely that you’re not taking care of yourself as well as you should. Here’s a list of easy self-care ideas to point you in the right direction.
Self-care is easy to push to the bottom of the list, but that’s not sustainable for any length of time. For me, depression and a lack of self-care go hand in hand, they feed on one another in a vicious circle that’s hard to break. Skimping on self-care activities is likely to make my depression worse, and feeling depressed makes me less likely to engage in self-care.
Sometimes it’s hard to even know what self-care really
20 Easy Self-Care Ideas for Depressed Mamas.
A quick caveat before we get started: if you’re looking for new and exciting self-care ideas, you’re probably in the wrong place.
My experience is that depression robs you of the ability to even see the basics of what needs doing. I recognise its ugly face in the state of my house, and it’s staring back at me whenever I try to think about self-care too.
If you’re suffering from a mental illness, it’s probably hard for you to even keep on top of the bare minimum of self-care. Even when you’re recovering, or when you’re having a ‘good day’, you might still find this stuff difficult.
This list of easy self-care ideas is for you.
I’ve tried to stick to self-care activities that don’t need pre-planning. It’s no good if you lift your head up above the fog for a moment, and every self-care idea you can think of requires a shopping list longer than your arm, or a gym membership that you don’t have.
I want this list to be easy. I want you to be able to pick something from it and just do it, without much thought at all. This is about taking care of yourself, not creating more work.
Basic Self-Care Ideas
Really basic self-care. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
1.Brush your teeth and wash your face.
Even if it’s already three o’clock in the afternoon. If you didn’t at least splash some water on your face, go and do it now. I’ll wait.
2. Get dressed.
See above. Do it even if it’s so late that you might as well stay in pyjamas. Do it even if it’s raining, even if you don’t have anywhere to go. Put on daytime clothes and send a signal to your brain that you’re ready for action.
3. Drink some water.
It’s a bit of a recurring theme around here. If I’m feeling sluggish and generally under the weather, I can usually look back and see that I haven’t been drinking enough. It’s best if you can try to kick this off first thing – once you’ve had one glass of water, you’re far more likely to want another one later on. I don’t know why it works like that, it just does.
4. Make a dump list.
Are you a list-maker? I am. I have all kinds of lists in my bullet journal. My favourite kind of list for days when everything feels too
5. Make a gratitude list.
Another kind of list, I told you I liked them. You don’t need to start a gratitude journal, although that’s definitely a good idea. Just make a quick list, on some paper, in your journal, or just in your head, of a few things you feel gratitude and appreciation for.
6. Eat something healthy.
Munch on a banana, or make yourself a fruit smoothie. Choose something that’s easy for you to make and eat, that you’ll enjoy, and that feels good for you. It doesn’t have to be green, but it can be if you want. Tune in and listen to what your body is asking for.
7. Ground yourself.
Settle yourself back into your physical body, and shift the focus away from your swirling thoughts. I like to do this by quickly looking for something in the immediate environment to engage each of my senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.
One of the greatest things the Internet has given us is the ability to access funny video clips any time we want them. Most of us don’t take enough advantage of that, preferring to spend our time being annoyed about our extended family’s posts on social media. Make yourself a YouTube playlist of things that always make you laugh, and watch it often.
9. Step outside.
If you can get out to somewhere green and peaceful, then so much the better, but any kind of outside is good, really. Do what feels doable to you right now. On some days, that might just be opening your door and turning your face to the sun. On other days a fiercely physical hike in the wind and rain might be just what you need to soothe your soul.
Actual reading, not just picking up a book and then abandoning it in favour of scrolling Facebook. It’s not just me that does that, is it? I find that reading fiction or poetry has a definite place in my self-care arsenal, but it’s also something that feels like hard work, something I resist. So, I write it on my daily list, literally, ‘read for half an hour’, and then I set a timer, plonk myself on the sofa, and read until the timer goes off. Sometimes I’ll keep going for longer, sometimes not, but having the timer helps me to stick with it for long enough to feel the benefits.
11. Take a walk.
Another one of those things that most of us know is a Good Thing to do, but which can be hard to accomplish. Usually, though, the hardest part is the bit where you put on your shoes and leave the house. If you can get yourself over that hurdle, you’re well on the way.
12. Make something.
Channel your creativity (even if you think you don’t have any) into an art or craft project. If you’ve got creative hobbies that aren’t getting much attention these days, then this could be your cue to bring them back into your daily life. Failing that, try searching ‘five-minute crafts’ on Pinterest & see what comes up.
13. Sensory play.
There’s a reason why sensory play is so useful for helping children calm down and relax, and it works for grown-ups too. Feel free to delve into that tub of cold spaghetti right alongside your child. Or, try kneading dough to make
14. Puzzle it out.
Take a bit of time out of your day to engage your brain in some kind of puzzle. Sudoku, word searches, and crosswords can all be good for this. It’s about giving your brain something to do other than ruminating over things you can’t change. Jigsaw puzzles work just as well.
15. Take a nap.
Sleep is your body’s inbuilt reset button. If you’re having a really crappy day, sometimes a nap can help you reboot everything. Set an alarm, and tell yourself that when you wake you’ll be refreshed and able to cope with your day.
I love the Internet. I’d find life really difficult without the wealth of home ed ideas, and I’m really grateful that whatever craft project I’m considering, someone has already tried it and blogged about all the stuff that went wrong, so I don’t have to make the same mistakes. Often, though, it becomes a numbing tool, a distraction from actually thinking and feeling properly. When you’re mindlessly scrolling on your phone with no real goal in mind, try unplugging for a while and see how that feels. I love using the Forest app to help me with this.
17. Digital decluttering.
Spend a bit of time going through your social media and really curating your experience so that everything you see is actually providing some value to you. If you’re going to allow an app to ping notifications into your phone all the time, then make sure those notifications are about things you really want to see. I make great use of the ‘unfollow’ option on Facebook!
18. TED talks.
Can I count these as self-care? Yes, I think so. Sometimes they fall into the laughter category, sometimes they help keep your brain active and learning new things, sometimes they’re just interesting. Whatever you choose, set aside the time to watch properly, rather than multitasking.
19. Email zapping.
Okay, maybe this one wouldn’t make your list, but it’s something I love to do, and it always leaves me feeling lighter. If you’re feeling overwhelmed every time you open your email client, then something needs to change. Most of those emails are probably just ‘noise’ and can be safely deleted. You don’t have to push all the way to inbox zero unless you want to, just bringing it back down to a manageable level can help. Get longer-lasting benefits by unsubscribing as you go along.
20. Cross something off your list.
Don’t actually do it, just take it off the list. Especially if you’ve been carrying an item forward onto successive new lists for a while, think about whether you really need to do it. What will the consequences be if you don’t do it? Be honest with yourself here, and don’t allow your brain to catastrophise. Most things can be safely deleted from your list without any negative consequences. Try it just once, and see how freeing it can feel.
Make Self-Care an Every-Day Habit
If you’re a mama (or anyone) suffering from depression, then it’s likely that you’re not taking care of yourself as well as you should. Here’s a list of easy self-care ideas to point you in the right direction. Self-care is easy to push to the bottom of the list, but that’s not sustainable for any length of time. For me, depression and a lack of self-care go hand in hand, they feed on one another in a vicious circle that’s hard to break. Skimping on self-care activities is likely to make my depression worse, and feeling depressed makes me less likely to engage in self-care. Sometimes it’s hard to even know what self-care really is, or to think about the kinds of things that might help. That’s what this list is for.