It's the most wonderful time of the year. Or so we keep telling ourselves. And it can be. I mean, what's not to love about cheese and wine and too much of both, right? Except the idea that you're supposed to be having a good time because "Christmas" and this makes you not having a good time feel all the worse. It's like one big magnifying glass for all your insecurities lasering in on any loneliness, self doubt or general existential angst making for a really sexy and fun depressive episode. And what's the holiday season without it?
I get that a guide to self care can seem condescending (like, bitch, I know I need to wash my hair okay?) but writing one is as much an act of it for me as anything else. So this holiday season - and y'know - life in general it's time to look at a few ways to look after your god damn self.
So depression and anxiety have this really delightful feedback loop that exacerbates feelings of detachment with this self-imposed solitude. Sure, taking time for yourself is healthy. Sure, there are days when you feel like you do not have the energy to be around people (and why would they want to be around you anyway? You're a garbage person right?) BUT sometimes the best thing you can do is go be around people you love. It could be curling up on the sofa and drinking tea or dancing around the kitchen after having a little bit too much wine. These moments will become like little islands, a reprieve between the bad days. Even when it feels like you are incapable of feeling them, they are out there. Keep swimming.
This might be counter-intuitive after everything I've just said, but sometimes it's okay to say no. That big night out? A busy shopping day in town? Somethings will expend your energy and not fill you with that you need. Find out what they are. There are days when you want to say yes to everything because you're terrified that if you don't, that there will some kind of shortage. Social events, work - it's like you're trying to hoard all these projects and people so you don't starve. There will be other events. There will be more work. Your soul will not go hungry. It's okay to say no.
Do Shit You Don't Want To Do
There's this school of thought of self care that is all about nourishment and looking after yourself in a way that is twee and instagram friendly. And that's fine. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a fancy bath, blanket forts or hot chocolate. However the things that are really going to help you? The things you don't actually want to do. That pile of dishes? Time to get them done. Laundry pile piling up? Tackle that. Make your bed. And god damn it, wash your hair. When everything feels heavy and pointless and just kind of crap, this is the healthiest shit you can do for yourself.
Nip Those Unhealthy Behaviours in the Bud
We all have our chosen method of self destructive behaviours. Mine are a super fun combination of problematic eating, drinking way too much and generally shutting down completely. Anyway, it's not pretty. So I make lists of things I need to do (or even of things I've managed to achieve, whatever works best for you.) I push myself to do things quicker because it'll cause more problems later and will make me feel better to know it's done (this one has taking me a significant time longer to learn that it should have) and try to eat one meal a day. Goal two. There is usually vegetables. Less caffeine. More water. See? It's like I'm a god damn adult.
Get Up and Try Again
I'll have a series of days that seem okay, where I've managed to have some semblance of normalcy. And then there will be this quiet moment and everything starts closing in, my mind decides to dredge up every single problematic thing I've done (and said) spanning from the last week to my entire 28 years, and we've got this shame, guilt, self-loathing spiral. I'll get up. I'll wash. I'll do my make up. I'll dress nice. I'll leave the house and walk. Not far. To the shops and back is enough. The small rituals of getting up are sometimes enough to maybe not make me feel okay, but at the very least, better.
Be Kind To Yourself
Which is basically what this entire list is about okay? You are not as awful as you tell yourself. You are worthy of love and compassion. Take your meds. Build a support network. Lean on that support network. Do things you enjoy and take solace in that things can get better.
Find some: Headspace and find 10 minutes for yourself every day.
Call: Samaritans on 116 123. 365 days a year, 24 hours and completely free.
And remember to breathe.