For anyone who does or ever has experienced depression, you know how challenging a shower can be. The simple act of turning a nob, taking off clothes, stepping under the water; stop right there. I was exhausted at taking off clothes. It can be a daunting overwhelming task. Even though we know we will feel better after doing it. It almost sounds like the annoying mother voice in our head that says, “Just try it, you will feel better after you are done.”
We are not going to bombard you with the science of why you should do it and how it will help your depression. Instead let’s talk about ideas on how to build up some reserves for when that depression hits.
Self-care is a huge part of helping offset the impact of depression in your life. Taking the time to relax and enjoy what you are doing is the definition of self-care. It does not have to be yoga, or massage or meditation to be relaxing. It needs to be something that brings you joy. That you can feel comfortable and at peace while you are doing it. If that is a vigorous kick boxing match, then that is what you do. The goal is to not stress. Relaxing triggers the body’s “feel good hormones”; like serotonin and oxytocin. These are the hormones linked to better moods and better sleep. Things become easier with practice so the more you practice relaxing, the easier it becomes for you. Which means you become skilled at having a dose of serotonin and oxytocin at your fingertips.
If you are so inclined, spa treatments are loaded with health benefits that will help when the demon comes back. Consensual invited touch is a powerful tool that builds a person’s sense of safety. Scientists have found that touch activates the prefrontal cortex of the brain which is where the stress machine resides. One study monitored people in an fMRI machine while they awaited a very loud noise. The group that had a loved one touching them while they waited, showed less signs of anxiety and stress. People can feel the compassion in a touch which helps them feel a connection and bolster the happy hormones.
Even the simple act of self-grooming has trememdous benefits. Taking care of oneself and spending the time doing something for ourselves, reduces burnout and restore a balance of giving outward. It is also a little hard to hate yourself when you are doing something nice for yourself. As my mother always said: a little lipstick can turn the day around.