Mental Health Week might have come and gone, but for those who suffer with depression the battle continues. We know that self-care is important, but some days the relentlessness of the condition takes over. No matter what you try in order to keep your spirits high, you feel drained, your body aches and you might even be numb to it all. I’ve been there – and 2020 has not been easy for any of us. If you’ve been following along, you already know that I suffer from depression and anxiety. Even if you don’t, no one is immune to bad days. Be kind to yourself is a cliche statement, but when you take the words apart, it becomes your life raft. Be your own wellness hero by advocating for your wellbeing. Get yourself to therapy, there is no shame in taking medication if it works for you, and know that your vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.
Since some of our favorite spas (my personal space to escape) are still closed or only provide partial treatments, I’ve been exploring more ways to practice the spa and wellness life at home. Understandably these self-care tips might not work for everyone, but I’ve discovered them on my mental wellness journey and feel it is my duty to share. Here are some of my personal, practical, low cost, and ( in some cases) instant ways to burst through the fog.
Contrast shower is exactly what you might think it is – switching between hot and cold water. It’s simple. Shower as normal at first, and before you’re ready to finish your shower start the contrast shower technique. It’s simple. Alternate between hot and cold water (2 or 3 times), always ending your shower with cold water. Cold showers are a good way to wake yourself up and gain more energy. The benefits of contrast showers are similar to those you might get from a hot and cold plunge at the spa – improved circulation, help with muscle aches, energy boost, healthier skin and hair, but most importantly depression alleviation (cold shower boosts a flow of blood into your brain, causing a quick release of endorphins).
CBD TO THE RESCUE
While it took me a while to get on the CBD train, I am really starting to enjoy high quality CBD products with calming benefits. If alleviating anxiety and stress is what you’re looking for, Healist Calm Chews can provide relaxation and yummy taste. Healist wants you to be your own hero and take charge of your wellbeing as much as I do. Their philosophy is that if nurtured, our mind and body have an incredible capacity to heal. If taking a simple chew tablet is all you have to do, then why not try it for yourself? As with any supplements, this product could interact with certain medications so please consult with your physician before use.
SNAP OUT OF IT
You’ll often find a hair tie or rubber band on my wrist. It’s not for my hair, it’s for my mental health. When it comes to being a positive thinker, I have a long way to go, but my therapist taught me a trick that brings me a lot closer. If it’s the negative self-talk that gets to you, lightly snap a rubber band every time you have a negative thought and turn it into a positive thought. Rewiring your brain is hard work, but with a simple trick like this, you can work on it any time of the day and get faster results.
The ancient wisdom of Ayurvedic medicine can attest to the fact that the power of touch is vital to our wellbeing and remains to be a good way to treat the body and the mind. Did you know that baby massages are a common postnatal practice in India? Your body deserves love as a much as a newborn and self-massages might seem silly at first but they are an excellent way to love your body.
This one is especially for those who experience tight and painful muscles, numbness and a crumbling feeling. During massage our oxytocin levels go up and our heart rate drops. Not only will your mood and circulation improve, you’ll help alleviate muscle pain. My favorite way to massage my neck, legs, feet, and even stomach (great for digestion when you move from clockwise in circles), hands and arms is with a good massage oil.
My recent go-to is Reign Together’s Massage Oil. It is formulated with a broad-spectrum hemp oil and lightly scented with citrus. I find citrus and lemon scents, like Bergamont, helpful when I’m feeling low. For back massage, use the tennis ball trick. Press a tennis ball on your back while leaning on a wall or laying on the floor, and find your sore spot. Focus on the spot by pressing the ball into it, but make sure to not do it too hard. My favorite massage tool for 2020 is the Kansa Organics Kansa Wand – an Ayurvedic massage tool that is shaped like a dome. Kansa Wands come in various sizes, for your face, body, and even your feet.
SOAK IT AWAY
I know I keep pushing this agenda, I even curated a shop around it, The Soak Club, but it is a sure way to feel better. Depression can cause chronic pain, irregular sleeping patterns, loss of interesting in physical activity and even anger. All of these can be relieved with a warm bath. If you think you’re more of a shower person and never take baths, I will strive to change your mind. Baths are so much more than sitting in warm water. They represent an ancient ritual, known and used in many cultures because of their various health benefits. Baths represented power, hygiene, beauty and community. The warm water alone has a soothing effect on our mind and body. We are instantly calmed, soothed, letting go off stress or anger. The benefits of a soaking in a tub are endless.
Combine your warm water with various ingredients and scents found in nature. Epsom or Himalayan Pink Salts are my favorite. My most recent go-to is the Laguna Herbal’s Pink Himalayan Bath Soak because it contains a therapeutic blend of essential oils featuring lavender and ylang ylang. This soak makes me feel loved and my aching muscles instantly relieved.
As a New Yorker who doesn’t get much sun, purchasing a light box for the winter season has been one of the smartest choices I ever made. It works wonders! There never seems to be enough vitamin D on the East Coast and if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (which is a type of depression) you’ll love the way light therapy feels and instantly lifts your mood. All you have to do is plug it in like a lamp, and bathe in its light for 15 minutes. Light boxes provide you with the sunlight or daylight that we miss on gloomy days. If you have sensitive eyes, skin or get triggered by bright lights, take caution.
Always consult with your doctor before doing any type of self-care treatment that you’re not sure about, as in some instances it might trigger or worsen your condition. None of this is meant to be medical advice, these are personal tips and statements, and might not work for everyone.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255, Available 24 hours