Taking The First Step Towards Self-Care

by 26Health Staff

You won’t be surprised to learn that the prevalence of depression symptoms in the U.S. increased more than 3-fold during the COVID-19 pandemic, from 8.5% before COVID-19 to 27.8% during COVID-19. No one denies 2020 has been a tough year, and these numbers don’t lie.

We are all hurting. We are all affected. Even if you have been managing your depression symptoms, anxiety, or stress fairly well, it can still be a challenge to keep your head above water during such difficult times. So what do you do if you find yourself in that position?

Start with the Basics of Self-Care

To start with the basics of self-care, think about where you are right now and take it from there. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a psychological theory commonly presented in the shape of a pyramid. It helps determine what a person’s needs are based on physiology or basic needs, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. Those people who reside in the basic needs or safety section near the bottom of the pyramid, like so many of us are currently, are in what is known as “survival mode.”

Physiology and basic needs include food, water, warmth, and rest or sleep. If you’re not eating or are losing significant amounts of sleep, you need to start there. For loss of appetite, try eating smaller amounts of food, more frequently throughout the day. I like to keep foods around that are easily accessible. I think about my mom’s friends who have young children and how they often keep snack bags in their purses with Goldfish crackers, fruit snacks, or breakfast bars. You are more likely to eat if the food is handy and does not require preparation.

For issues with sleep, try thinking about what you might be doing (or not doing) that may be contributing to your struggles. Electronics are stimulants. Engaging with your phone, tablet, or laptop before bed could cause you to lose sleep. Watching TV in bed or drinking lots of caffeine can interrupt sleep as well. Try trading out coffee and soft drinks with warm decaf tea with milk. Instead of catching up on your favorite show, try reading a book before bed.

Get Help When You Need It

Another consideration is whether or not you are being safe. Some people in crisis mode turn to self-harming behaviors such as cutting, drinking too much, or turning to drugs. Some can even become dissociative, blacking out while driving, or not remembering whole hours. At this point, you will want to build a strong support system and seek professional help.

Lastly, remember that you are not alone. We’ve all been there at some point. Take this time to reach out to your friends. Think about simple things like taking a hot bath or going on a long walk. At 26Health, we have a medical and mental health clinic, set in a friendly and relaxing environment, that is here to help you. Healing takes time so you have to be patient with yourself, understand that it is a process, and just do SOMETHING. Start somewhere.