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When You Have Depression, Self-Care Doesn’t Have to Be Extravagant

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The term self-care seems to be a common buzzword these days. It might even conjure up the image of people lying around with their feet propped up, sheet masks on their faces, while they eat ice cream right out of the carton and watch a reality TV show.

While this can sometimes be the truth, as I can absolutely attest to, sometimes self-care isn’t so extravagant— especially to someone with depression.

To many people, including some people with mental illness, getting out of bed and showering is an everyday occurrence. Brushing your hair, changing your clothes and making breakfast is often routine.

But for some people with depression and other mental illnesses, completing routine tasks can feel impossible. Even the thought of getting out of bed feels like a monstrous effort, never mind doing anything else. Maybe the dirty laundry is piling up and you don’t even want to think about the state of the kitchen. It’s not that anyone wants this to happen, but they can’t always control it.

What many people don’t always realize is that the act of simply getting up and brushing your hair can make a world of difference in how you feel that day.

It might not seem like much, but if depression is your mind’s way of keeping you stuck, doing such a simple thing for yourself can help get you unstuck, even just a little bit. It can sometimes be a little bit easier to feel better when you face the world with clean hair and clothes.

That is self-care – looking after yourself when your illness doesn’t want you to. It’s making the things around you just a little bit better, and getting up when all you want to do is crawl back to bed.

Of course, there will always be days when the thought of picking up a hairbrush seems completely impossible. That’s OK. But on days when things seem bleak and hopeless and stretch into nothing, maybe, just maybe, doing something simple for yourself can ease it and help you feel more in control. And maybe that will help you feel just a little bit better about yourself so you can tackle the rest of the day.

Let’s redefine self-care. We are more than our illnesses, and we can be strong enough to pick up that hairbrush.

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Thinkstock photo via ChesiireCat

Originally published: July 12, 2017
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