Extreme Self-Care for Depression
Written by Greg Hitchcock, in Section Therapy News
Implementing extreme self-care for depression in your life could be a vital tool on the journey to recovery from depression. Find out more about how the art of extreme self-care could be a transformative experience for your depression recovery journey and beyond.
Why Extreme Self-Care for Depression?
The expression”extreme self-care” comes from a book I read recently, The Art of Extreme Self-Care by Cheryl Richardson. But why “extreme” self-care? Why not just plain old self-care? I wondered this when I started the book, but it became clear quite quickly why the author uses this term.
Our society is a strange beast at times. Certain forms of selfishness seem to be socially acceptable (Black Friday store stampedes, for example) but at the same time, we criticize other behaviours that we perceive as selfish. Our society also expects constant busyness and productivity — stopping to take care of ourselves is seen as a luxury; whereas, Richardson argues that it’s as vital as the air we breathe. Crucially, extreme self-care and caring about and for others are not mutually exclusive.
Depression sufferers are often some of the most self-critical souls I’ve ever met and we are often deeply sensitive to people telling us we’re selfish because of our mental illness. But self-care for mental health is the cornerstone of our care. Maybe that’s why we need to call it “extreme self-care” – because it is far too important for us to ignore or put on the back burner.
Extreme Self-Care for Depression Is About Valuing Your Time and Energy
This is one of the most difficult aspects of depression and it’s the one I’m having the hardest time getting to grips with. Extreme self-care demands that we value and nurture ourselves every day, but I have a hard time letting go of my perfectionist tendencies. I was brought up with a strong work ethic; productivity is important and getting it right still more so. As a fairly new freelancer running my own business, it’s hard to switch off sometimes. The idea that I could say “no” or “not now” to a client was one that I found hard to wrap my head around. However, I also know that I need to do it, because I am very much stuck right now in an overwork/burnout cycle — and burnout often leads to depression. If this whole extreme self-care thing can help me balance out my life and avoid these burnouts, I’m willing to give it a go. Ask yourself this — is your current way of doing things working for you in helping you manage, recover from or avoid depression? If not, then what do you have to lose by trying it?
If you’re still worried about saying “no” or “not now” at work or to clients or even to family, just consider this: if you always say yes to the extra duties or projects and the last minute requests, maybe your boss, clients or family will start thinking you don’t have enough to do. They, therefore, won’t value your time and effort as much if they think you’re just sitting there waiting for them to throw stuff at you. They might even start to think they’re doing you a favor by giving you work and that is not a position you want to be in, whether you’re an employee, self-employed or otherwise. Value your time and energy because if you don’t, nobody else will.
What Will You Do with Your Extreme Self-Care Time?
So let’s assume you say “no” to a couple of things and manage to carve out some time. The important thing is that you know what to do with it and make it count — and even more importantly, stick to it (Steps to Self-Care for Depression). For some people, it might be time to pursue a hobby or learning, but other people value switching off entirely, reading a book, watching a favourite television show or taking a long bath. Your self-care routine doesn’t have to conform to anybody else’s expectations because it’s about what makes you feel cared for, comforted and fulfilled.
Because of the expectations and pressures I’ve already described, it doesn’t always come naturally to prioritise caring for ourselves; but, like any other skill, the more you practice the more it’s likely to start becoming part of your life and a tool you can use to help manage, fight off and recover from depression. Your mind and body will thank you.
Image Attribution: Lauren Rushing, used under Creative Commons license.