Depression is more than feeling sad or having “the blues.” It’s a serious mental health condition that tears apart your feeling of self-worth and social connections. This often means that the things you would normally do take care of yourself fall by the wayside.However,  one of the best ways to cope with depression is to actually pay closer attention to self-care. On good days, it will help you stay on top of your mood. For not-so-good days, it means the difference between functioning with a purpose or staying in bed and shutting out the world.Are you struggling with depression? Consider these essential strategies for self-care.

1. Practice Self- forgiveness

A great place to start when practicing self-care is self-forgiveness. People with depression will blame themselves for having the condition. That’s not fair to you. Depression is a mental health problem.  Sometimes it has origins in family history, life experience, or a combination of the two. If you had a choice, would you really want depression? Of course, not, so give yourself a break and show yourself some compassion.

2. Ask Yourself: “Am I Getting Enough Sleep?”

The next thing to look into is your sleep routine. Consider these two questions:

  • Am I getting enough sleep?
  • Is my sleep restful?

If the answer is “no” to both questions then it’s time to overhaul your sleep hygiene or daily routine. Establish a consistent bedtime that allows you at least eight hours of sleep. Avoid drinking alcohol before bedtime, as this only interferes with deep, restful sleep. Also, avoid staring at screens, texting, or returning emails before you go to bed.

3. Allow Yourself to Have Fun

When you have depression, just getting through the day is tough. Can you imagine having fun? Yet, that’s exactly what you should do. Even if it’s only ten minutes of your time, some unstructured fun-time can be just what you need. Listening to music, drawing, or watching your favorite movie (perhaps a comedy) are all examples. Give yourself permission to smile and have fun!

4. Take Breaks When You Need To

Do you have moments when you feel the level of your depression is reaching a critical stage? It can feel overwhelming in those situations to have to deal with depression and everything else in your life. That’s why it’s helpful to take a break. It doesn’t have to be a long break. It just needs to be long enough to allow you to refocus before switching to the next thing.

5. Watch Out for Unhelpful Self-Talk

Your self-talk is the narrative that you hear in your brain. It reflects how you perceive yourself. If your self-talk is negative, that will, in turn, have a negative influence on your perception. Of course, it’s not possible to be positive all the time. However, you can be realistic and observant of times when you get down on yourself. Challenge the monologue in your head. Does your self-talk really reflect the situation at hand, or is it related to depression?

6. Keep Breathing

Mindful breathing exercises are helpful when you start to feel depression creep in. Take deep breathes to relax the muscles in your body and help you refocus. The advantage of breathing exercises is that you can do them anytime, anywhere.

7. Get in Touch with Your Body

Finally, get in touch with your body and how it relates to depression. For example, when you feel depressed, is there tension in your neck or shoulders? Does your posture suffer? These are little signs that can help you be more aware when depression is at work. The more aware you are, the better you can cope.

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When you are depressed, it’s easy to just let your self-care slide. However, proper self-care can actually help you cope with depression so that it doesn’t get the upper hand. Still, if you find it too difficult to manage on your own, please don’t hesitate to seek professional help and compassionate guidance.