How to Practice Better Self-Care

Self-Care

Self-CareI’ve always avoided articles that include the words self-care or self-love in the title. I don’t know why, I’ve just always had this idea that they’ll be…hippy. You know what I mean. “How can you expect anyone to love you, if you don’t love yourself” kind of thing. I hate that saying.

Anyway, a friend of mine was talking to me about how important self-care is for everyone and what she was saying made sense to me. So I did some research. I Googled and read all of those posts that I’d just ignored before. And you know what? They weren’t that bad! There were a few that were a bit “spiritual” for my liking but that’s just personal preference.

I’ve been trying to practice better self-care lately although some of the changes have been tough. It’s work in progress though which is a good start. The main thing that I’ve picked up through what I’ve read and started to practice, is to treat yourself more like you’d treat someone you love…a partner, a sibling, a close friend.

With that said, here’s five ways that you can start treating yourself better.

Listen to Yourself

I’ve put this at the top of the list because this is one of the things that I’ve started to get much better at. If someone you cared about told you they needed a rest day and to eat comfort food, I’m sure you’d support them. But are you as kind to yourself? Probably not.

There’s often a guilt that comes with giving yourself permission for certain things such as taking time off, having a nap, or eating whatever you fancy. Now I’m not saying you should do all of these things all of the time but sometimes your body and mind need them. Listen to yourself and give your mind and body what it needs. You’ll feel much better for it.

Self-Care

Be Kind to Yourself

When was the last time you told a loved one how amazing they are? Now think about when the last time you told yourself that was?

I find this one the hardest to do. There are so many negative, self-defeating thoughts in my head on a daily basis that I just let sit there. Sometimes I listen and really take it to heart, other times I just leave them there. What I should really be doing is forcing those thoughts out completely and replacing them with loving words and positive affirmations.

All too often I focus on what I haven’t been able to achieve. Instead, we should be focusing on the positives and what we have been able to achieve. This is another key part of being kind to yourself.

Pamper or Treat Yourself

Do something you love. Have a long bath, order your favourite takeaway and have a film night. Go out and get a massage or your nails done. These might seem like trivial, irrelevant things but treating yourself to something nice every so often is so important!

If you’re creative, treat yourself to some new “tools” and make something. Allow yourself to have some time alone to write, draw, paint, bake, or whatever it is that makes you smile.

Self-Care

Look After Your Health

Eat right and exercise. I know I’ve just said that if you want a night off or a takeaway, that you should listen to your body but not all the time! Those things should be one-offs when it’s what you really need. The rest of the time you need to be taking care of that body of yours. After all, you do only get one.

Get your blood pumping and endorphins flowing a couple of times a week. If you can exercise outdoors, even it’s just a gentle stroll, even better.

Protect Yourself

Protect yourself in the same way that you’d protect your best friend. Remember all those times you’ve told your friend they don’t need someone in their life that’s bad for them? Apply the same principles to yourself.

If there’s people in your life who are bringing you down or have a toxic effect on you, get rid of them. I know it’s not as easy as that but if that’s the advice you would give to a friend, why not yourself?

It’s also important to protect yourself from situations, not just people. If you know a situation isn’t right for you or will have a negative impact on you, avoid it if at all possible. Protect yourself from toxic and negative energy.

The key to all of these things it to try and build them into your life in a way that suits you. And, most importantly, to not feel guilty about it. This is the bit that I really struggle with – taking time off and treating myself always leave me feeling terrible but I’m working on it.

Do you have any other tips for self-care? Let me know in the comments below.

5 Tips for Living with Someone who has Depression.

Living with someone who has depression

Living with someone who has depressionYou might have noticed that recently I’ve been banging on about the challenges I face living with mental health problems. It’s something that’s close to my heart and definitely something that I think we should all be talking about more. Out in the blogging community it’s getting a fair bit of coverage but we need to keep that going. What isn’t covered all that often, is what impact depression (and other mental illnesses) have on those around us.

So, for a slightly different approach to today’s post, someone very close to me has written this. It’s all about what it’s like living with someone who has depression (me). It’s written completely from their point of view and I was only allowed to read it once it was finished (which was a nice surprise). Anyway, that’s enough from me for now…

I’m not going to lie and say this is easy because it isn’t. There are many challenges when it comes to living with someone who has depression, but thankfully I have learnt some tips to help.

1.  Sweets!

Now, while this is not recommended to be used all the time for obvious health reasons, it works. When your significant other is having an especially bad day, having some of their favourite sweets hidden away is a way of showing that you care and lifting their mood even if just a little. Thankfully for me there is an off licence right across the road so I can dash over if we’re out!

It’s not just sweets either, anything that you know they like and will let them know you were thinking about them.

2. A Thick Skin!

Depression is a horrendous illness that drains people physically and mentally. Imagine being in pain every waking moment and you can understand why they may snap at you or say something they don’t mean. I always try to not let these comments effect me. If I feel the need I bring it up when they’re feeling better and discuss if there was any truth behind it. Unfortunately there will be times when they say hurtful things but just remember it is purely the depression talking. Chances are when the cloud lifts they’ll tell you how much they love you and supportive you have been and that they regret what they said.

3. The Beauty of a Smile.

You will never truly realise the beauty of a smile until they’re in the midst of a bad spell and you finally get them to smile. You see that little glint in their eye and it restores your hope that you will both get through this together. Hold onto that image when the tears return. There is truly no better feeling than when your love feels the weight of depression crushing down upon them, and you manage to make them smile and laugh. Even if it is only brief, know that it will have meant even more to them than it did to you!

4. Get Ready for Housework!

Depression is incredibly exhausting and can cause physical pain. This can make it impossible to get out of bed or off the sofa. Something as simple as washing up becomes an Everest of a task. Don’t complain, just smile and do it. No one likes washing up, but trust me it’s much easier for you to do it than them. Plus being in a clean and tidy home can help with depression. If you ever feel like you’re slaving away, just remember they’re fighting a much harder fight than you are. It’s truly amazing how lifting a small weight like chores off someone can help them.

5. Pillow forts!

If all else fails make a pillow fort. Genuinely. Now. They’re awesome! It may seem stupid, childish, useless and a whole load of other negative words. But everyone did this when they were young. So when you’re inside with your partner it will bring back happy memories of sharing ghost stories as a kid under a sheet. Play the moment by ear and be prepared to go full out, crazy silly. Or be quiet and contemplative depending on their mood. This can either be somewhere to giggle and tickle each other or just a safe place to hide from the world.

Pro Tip: This is great when combined with Tip 1!!

While living with someone who has depression can be very hard, when you love that person it is 100% worth it. And while it is incredibly painful to watch them go through so much pain. It is one of the most incredible things you can do in your life. To be there for them, and support them as they fight it.

Things That Help Me Stay Positive

Stay Positive

Stay PositiveIt can be hard to stay positive. It can be hard for us all. This week’s posts have been about mental health but I’m quite conscious of not being too negative or seeming like I’m just having a good old whinge. But, in the same breath, I want to keep the Mental Health Awareness series going. So today I thought I’d share with you some of the things that can help me to stay positive when I’m not feeling great:

1. Family and Friends

Let’s face it, they’re the best for pretty much anything. But all it can take sometimes is just a simple message saying “I love you” or a text out of the blue asking how I’m doing. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that there are people out there who care about you when you don’t really care about yourself.

Copenhagen

2. Running

Well, exercise generally. One of the first things every doctor I’ve ever seen about depression and anxiety has asked me, is how often I exercise. Now I’ve heard people saying that they’ve been to their doctors for help only to be “prescribed” a nice, long walk. This is unbelievable and not an acceptable way to treat people. Mental illnesses need to be taken seriously and certainly aren’t something that can just be “walked off”. But, sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly anxious or I’m worried about something, running really does help. It’s by no means a cure but it can take the edge off the overwhelming feelings sometimes. Regular exercise also helps with health and energy levels generally which is always a bonus. Even more so when one of the things I struggle with most is low energy with depression.

3. ASMR Videos

I came across these by reading a random blog post about them. I can’t remember which blog but I want to say thank you to that person for introducing me to them. ASMR itself is an odd one to explain and I don’t fully understand it. What I do know is that I can put a video on, with my headphones in and be asleep within 30-45 minutes. They have an unbelievable calming effect on me (I’m a big fan of the make up ones, as well as the Reiki ones too). A word of warning though, they’re really not for everyone and I know a few people who really cannot stand them. The beauty is that the variety you can find on YouTube is huge so there’s plenty to choose from.

camera

4. Writing 

It probably comes as no surprise to you that I love writing. I have two blogs that are up and running. I have three major projects in the pipeline – two books and an online course. The books are years off being finished but there’s something very cathartic about picking up my notebook or laptop, finding a nice cafe and writing bits of an imaginary story whenever I need an escape. Writing more seriously, like for Flourishing Freelancer can be great in a different way. I have to focus on research and the content being correct so much that I can often forget about other things.

5. Travel 

It makes me sad to write this as one of the things that helps me because I don’t get to do it anywhere near as much as I used to or would like to. But travelling is amazing. It really helps me a lot. I think partially it’s getting away from everyday things. It’s also partially the distraction of exploring somewhere new and partially the space it gives me to think and figure things out. There’s something about travelling that’s eye opening, humbling and exciting all at the same time. I know a lot of people who fight depression and anxiety (particularly the latter) worry about travelling. Especially travelling alone in case their symptoms worsen whilst they are away. Like everything mental health related, it’s personal – what works for someone, might not for another. But, for me, packing my bag and setting off on an adventure, whether alone or with someone else, brings me so much happiness. AdventureSo, there you have it, the top five things that get me through the tough times. Let me know what yours are.

An Open Letter to the People Who Think Depression is a Choice

an-open-letter-to-people-who-think-depression-is-a-choice

I didn’t post anything on Mental Health Awareness Day this year. Mainly for two reasons. Firstly, we need to be aware of mental health all the fucking time not just on one day. Sorry for swearing but things like this make me so mad! Mental health, breast cancer awareness, #blacklivesmatter, international women’s day…all of those things matter all the time – they shouldn’t be confined to just a day, week or month. My second reason is that I was too busy dealing with mental health issues to be writing about them!

So, I kind of boycotted Mental Health Awareness Day this year but thought I’d post about mental health for the rest of the week. Here’s my second instalment – An Open Letter to the People Who Think Depression is a Choice.

Dear you,

I know you think that depression is a choice so I’d like to say thanks for opening this letter and taking the time to try to understand.

I’ll start by saying depression is not a choice. I guess you were expecting me to say that though, right? I know you don’t understand it and I totally get that, but let me try to explain. This is difficult and could be long winded but please bear with me, it’ll be worth it in the end.

Living with a mental illness is a constant battle with yourself and with everything and everyone around you. Can you imagine trying to defend yourself in a fight when one of the people attacking you is you. Your hands and arms are so busy hitting your own face that they can’t possibly try and fend anyone else off. Why would you choose to do that? The answer is simple, you wouldn’t.

And I didn’t choose this.

Most days I wake up in pain. Physical and emotional, often with no reason at all. Image waking up every day feeling like you’d just run a marathon with the added pleasure of the worst hangover you’ve ever had. Sucks doesn’t it? Now imagine you didn’t run a marathon or have a single drink but still feel the same. And, now imagine that you have to get up, go to work, interact with other people and “function normally”.

I didn’t choose this.

I am unbelievably lucky, I know that. I have so much more than a lot of other people in this world and for that I am truly grateful. But I am sad. Desperately, deeply sad. I have the strongest, kindest, most amazing family and friends around me and for that I am truly grateful. But I am lonely. Black hole, end of the world lonely. I am safe, I don’t live in a war torn country or somewhere natural disasters strike frequently and for that I am truly grateful. But I am scared. Jumpy, knots in my stomach scared.

I did not choose this.

If you have never felt so unbelievably sad, empty and alone that you’ve genuinely thought you can’t go on, you are incredibly lucky. You have had some sort of light at every single point in your life. There is no worse feeling than utter, infinite darkness.

I didn’t choose this.

When you say things like “get a grip”, “cheer up” or “pull yourself together”, it upsets me. Not because of the words themselves but because I wish I could. I wish with everything I am that I could get a grip and cheer up.

I didn’t choose this.

Sometimes you take medication but there are side effects. Weight gain, insomnia, nausea, stomach ache, fatigue, drowsiness, dizziness, feeling anxious, agitated and shaky, migraines, a feeling of not really being awake, blurred vision, heart palpitations. If mental illness was a physical illness, imagine how ill you’d have to feel to willingly (and sometimes gladly) choose all of those side effects over the original illness.

Nobody chooses these illnesses. What they do choose to do however, is fight. We battle. We push on. We choose to survive, to stay alive. Those are the things we do have control over.

So next time you see someone struggling with mental health issues rather than thinking of them as weak, realise what they truly are. Unimaginably strong and brave for tackling the seemingly easy tasks such as getting ready, going outside, and interacting with people. Such tasks are mundane to you but are a mountain for them, so rather than pushing them down, why not give them a hand up?

They didn’t choose this, but you can choose to help.

An Open Letter to Anyone Struggling with Depression

Dear you,

Firstly, I want to say well done. Well done for being here today. Well done for clicking on this letter. Well done for admitting that you’re struggling with depression. It’s hard to admit sometimes. Especially when you don’t know why you feel this way. But acknowledging depression is a huge step in dealing with it, so well done.

Next I want to say, it’s okay. It’s okay that you feel like shit. It’s okay to want to hide away. There are good days and bad days for us all. Today is just a bad day, you’re going to get through this day, like all the other days before it, and all the days after it.

It will get better.

I promise.

You will come out the other side of this shining so bright that you will light up the whole world.

Although you might feel it right now, you are not alone. I have been where you are right now, as have so many others but I know that doesn’t matter to you right now. You are oh so loved by the people around you, but I know it probably doesn’t feel that way. You have a purpose in this big beautiful world and bring so much to so many lives, but I know if doesn’t feel like that right now.

All those negative voices in your head, ignore them. You are not your depression.

I love you for who you are. For everything you’ve done, everything you’ve survived and everything ahead of you.

I am so proud of you my love.

I’m writing this letter to you to tell you how incredibly strong you are. To tell you how many people love you. To tell you that everything’s going to be okay. To tell you to be brave.

You will get through this.

I promise.

For now, listen to your body and take care of yourself. Shut out everything else if you need to. Just focus on you. Take each minute, hour, day as it comes. Be patient with yourself.

You are never alone, I will be by your side now and always.

With all my love,

Dani

design (1)