Self care can be incredibly difficult when dealing with depression and/or anxiety. However, accepting help from others as well as ourselves can help improve our situation. Because self care can be so tough, we at psych2go have devised a list with low effort self care tips, to get you started.
Disclaimer: these self care tips will not replace professional help or medication, but they might just help you a little bit during those moments/days you’re not feeling well.
1. Take another route to or from school / work / therapy / appointments.
In low-effort self care seeing different surroundings can sometimes help a little with the apparent repetitiveness of daily life. It doesn’t have to be a massive detour, or a huge change, but just try to take a slightly different route to change up the repetitiveness.
2. If you feel up to it, fix a small thing that’s been on your mental to-do list.
Oil that creaky drawer or door, tighten that screw, tidy up your bed, dust that one bookcase or change that light bulb. It doesn’t have to be massive, but something as tiny as dusting one shelf can make you feel that you didn’t do nothing all day. See, you DID do something. Remember this is low-effort self care, so don’t force yourself to clean a whole room if you’re not feeling well.
3. Treat Yourself (low-effort style)
Switch everything on airplane mode for an hour and watch one episode of that series you’ve been planning to start for months.
Okay except for the device you might need to actually watch the episode. One hour cannot be the end of the world. Unless it’s of vital importance, it can wait one hour. Try to treat yourself like this once in a week.
4. Do a mindful bodyscan.
Practicing mindfulness is tough, extremely tough, particularly if you’re prone to anxiety and panic-thinking, but it can help and any minute or second of mindfulness is good practise.
Stick some stickers on things. Or play with stuff like glue, roll it into a ball, knead it around. Maybe get some play-doh and mess around with it.
6. Make a controlled mess to vent frustration.
This might take a little bit more effort but give it a try if you can. Make a mess on paper, get some paint, glue and glitter and slap it onto paper, rip other papers and slap them on there too. Make a mess if you want to, it does not have to be pretty. This can help ease frustration.
7. Try to learn a silly party trick. Or try to learn cartwheels.
Even if you’re feeling completely rubbish, the movement gets your blood going. Watch some youtube tutorials and try a weird jump, a cool turn or search on youtube for “trick with hands” for some lower effort ideas you don’t need extra stuff for.
8. Take some random objects close by and try to arrange them in a way you find pleasing to the eye.
Who knew a diary, a thermosflask, and old copy of some homework and a pencil case around an empty vase could look so artful. You can even take a picture and collect them if you’re up to it.
We know. It sucks and you really don’t want to, but these are low effort self care tips, you do not have to run a marathon. Wiggle your toes, then your ankles and your toes. Walk around, jump once or twice. You do not have to run a marathon, just get your blood going. It might just give you a tiny little boost of vitality, and if not, you can be proud of yourself for moving around a little even when it was the last thing you wanted to do. If you’re feeling well enough, but some music on in the background, maybe just ambient sounds.
10. Allow yourself to be childish.
Even if it’s just for five minutes. Go blow some soap bubbles. Or get a glass of water and a straw and blow some bubbles in that. Get a slice of bread or cake and cover it in all the sugary things. Cut a smiley in some fruit, let yourself slump to the floor and roll around on the floor, skip all the cracks between the tiles as you walk. Allow yourself to be silly for a minute (or 5, or 10, or more 😉 )
11. Take 10 (or more) really deep slow breaths.
When you’re feeling down and sitting it’s easy to subconsciously turn to shallow and short breaths. Keep your body going and maybe add just the littlest amount of energy by focusing on your breathing, even if just for a little while. Sometimes it can help to breathe in and while breathing out trying to hum, and keep the hum going (not until you’re out of breath, just enough to allow you to breathe slowly) as a thing to focus on.
Low-effort self care can also encompass low effort self soothing. Furthermore, if it feels weird to pet or stroke yourself, just take some moisturizer and rub it on your skin. If you don’t feel like rolling up your sleeve to rub it on your arm you can just moisturize your hand instead.