Written by: Lauren Polzella, Medical Psychology Student Intern, Endicott College
You won’t be a selfish person for taking care of yourself, just a happier one. Self-care is something people often put on the back burner. It has been stereotyped as “selfish” or “self-centered” to put yourself first, but sometimes it is necessary to ensure your well-being.
Self-care is defined as making daily living needs a priority, such as eating, drinking, sleeping, and daily hygiene. However, it is not limited to these alone. Self-care also involves taking time to do the things that nurture and feed your soul. But what happens when even these things aren’t enjoyable anymore? Individuals who struggle with depression often have low motivation for activities and hobbies they used to find enjoyable. Depression can make self-care feel impossible, especially when a person feels tired, listless, and emotionally drained. Depression is associated with the dysfunction of the frontal lobes, which are responsible for executive function. Executive function controls skills in the brain such as problem solving and judgement and reasoning. When an individual is depressed, it is much harder for executive function to work correctly, therefore making it harder for self-care to feel attainable. However, the brain is adaptive and able to make new connections.
Creating a self-care plan is a great way to start rewiring your neural pathways on the path to recovery. Start small. Aim for small goals and recognize the little things each day, even if it's just getting out of bed and getting dressed, or recognizing you have been given another day and taking time to identify three things you are grateful for during that day. These small habits will help to lighten your mood and promote positivity, even if only for a few moments. Then, start to build off these small, daily habits and goals. Find what works for you and what makes you feel your best. Feed your senses. Whether it’s smelling the flowers and fresh air outside, eating one of your favorite foods for some comfort, or taking walks with a loved one; anything that boosts frontal lobe activity will help in the process of recovery. So, find what works best for you and roll with that, you’ll thank yourself later.
And remember - be kinder to yourself. You are important, you are loved, and you aren’t selfish for focusing on bettering yourself.
Serani, D. (2017, February 06). Why self-care is hard for depressed individuals. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/two-takes-depression/201702/why-self-care-is-hard-depressed-individuals
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