For anyone with anxiety or depression, and the two often accompany each other, self-care is not a luxury.
Self-care is a necessity, but symptoms like fatigue, despair, negative thinking, and irritability make it difficult to define needs, not to mention take care of them.
A few simple, although not easy, steps make it easier for depressed or anxious people to stay emotionally and physically healthy,
Scientific research has shown that depression impairs executive functioning skills, lowering a person’s ability to solve problems or make decisions. This makes it harder to control emotions, focus attention, or plan ahead.
It also affects willpower, insight, and memory. Just planning a self-care strategy is difficult, not to mention practicing it. People are most successful when they start with manageable steps and gradually increasing them as confidence builds. The brain gradually builds new neural pathways, and functioning skills return as depression lifts.
Depressed people often have trouble sleeping at night and wake up tired and unmotivated. One of the best ways to get things back on an even keel is to have a routine.
Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day and having previously planned activities makes it easier to start the morning.
Medical and anecdotal evidence shows the importance of exercise in the fight for good mental health.
According to experts at Harvard Medical School, exercise may work as well as anti-depressants for some people, although they do not recommend exercise alone in cases of major depression. Exercise is a lifelong endeavor, not a quick fix, and it may take several weeks to see results. The key is starting gradually and finding an activity that is fun.
The choice of foods can have a positive or negative effect on mental health. While there is no plan that is right for everybody or no one diet that specifically addresses the issues of anxiety and depression, diet plays a role.
Antioxidants fight cell damage, proteins enhance alertness, and complex carbohydrates have a calming effect. Studies have shown that Vitamin D is especially good for people with seasonal affective disorder, and foods with selenium can improve mood. Low levels of Omega-3, found in nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, have also been associated with depression.
Although traditions vary according to religious and cultural backgrounds, all recognize in some way the connection of the mind, body, and spirit. The value of daily practices like prayer, mindfulness, martial arts, meditation, or yoga as part of an integrated wellness routine is now an accepted part of mainstream medicine.
Other self-soothing activities include listening to music, engaging creativity, keeping a gratefulness journal, enjoying a warm bath, or enjoying time in nature. Being involved with other people is crucial, and support groups play that role for many people.