I think nearly all of us with mental illnesses have seen posts on social media telling us about self-care and how we can practice it. One thing that has always struck me is that, even though the suggestions are basic, such as having a shower, what if you don’t have the energy to have a shower? Or the motivation? Many of us with depression will know how difficult it is to get out of bed - let alone shower or make yourself some food. It can even be a little disheartening when you see posts labelled as “self-care”, yet you don’t even have the energy to try and act on them.
So in light of this, I thought I’d make a guide that is realistic, and things that I do when I am relapsing or things I have done since becoming ill.
Keep wipes close by: building on what I said previously about not having the energy to shower, wet wipes can be a godsend. Whether you keep them by your bed, or where you sit daily, they can be really helpful for making yourself feel a little cleaner and for freshening up. I always have baby wipes and facial wipes stocked for those times when I hit a low.
Get some dry shampoo: again, washing your hair can seem like too much of a task when your illness is rearing it’s head, so dry shampoo is perfect! When I was really depressed earlier this year I got through a lot of dry shampoo. It’s brilliant for soaking up any extra oil in your hair and helping you to feel a little more put together.
Make sure you have snacks/“easy” food: as much as we would all love to be Gordon Ramsay and cook amazing meals three times a day, with a mental illness that is just not realistic. Something that I swear by is keeping snacks in my room if I don’t have the energy to go downstairs, but also having foods that are easy to cook for when I do a little energy. Whether you want something like toast, pizza, noodles, ready meals - anything that can be quickly put in he microwave and uses little energy is perfect.
Ensure you have your “comforts” around you: if, like me, you basically always sit in the same place, it’s a good idea to have your comfort items around you. So if you have a favourite blanket, or a abook, keep it nearby. I always find having these items around me helps to ground me when I am going through a BPD episode or feeling really sad.
Keep a clean blanket: sometimes changing your bed is just too much of a task - so make sure you keep a clean blanket and clean pyjamas in your room. Just swapping your duvet for a clean blanket and putting some new pyjamas on can do the world of good and help lift your mood even slightly.
Make a happy playlist: if you’re in to your music, one thing I would recommend doing is making a playlist with songs you find help make you feel better - so no sad songs!
Keep gum nearby: okay, so this is one of the things that many of us with depression won’t admit to doing but many of us do it - not brushing our teeth. Just like having the energy to shower or even just move out of bed, brushing your teeth can seem like such a big task, even if it does only take a couple of minutes - so keeping a packet of chewing gum close by can be a godsend. Just like other things in this list, keeping gun nearby can help you feel slightly cleaner and more hygienic.
I’d be interested to hear how you realistically practice self-care when you have little to no energy. Let me know!