Taking Care of Yourself When You’re Really Down

Sometimes, even brushing your teeth can seem like a task that’s completely out of reach.

Depression can affect anyone, and people experiencing depression often don’t want to get out of bed. In those moments, the posts that tell you to exercise or see your friends to feel better are not all that helpful. If you’re struggling to even walk to the kitchen, exercise is out of the question.

I’ve read a few posts around the internet, particularly on Tumblr, talking about this in great detail. They describe how to look after yourself when you can’t bring yourself to change your socks. I think that it’s something directly relevant to What Messes with Your Head, so I’ve compiled what I can remember from those posts (unfortunately, I can’t find the original posts) for this article.

I haven’t been in this situation myself, which is why I’m using the ideas of others who have had this experience. I hope that it helps you to take care of yourself when you don’t want to take care yourself, although I really hope that none of you ever need this advice.

Tip #1: When you can’t bring yourself to shower…

That’s okay. Instead, you can use some dry shampoo or baby powder in your hair to stop it from getting too greasy. You can use deodorant, face wipes, and baby wipes to freshen up your face and body as well, and if you can’t brush your teeth today, just use some mouthwash. These are manageable things that you can do to stay clean and feel a little better when you feel as though you can’t do anything else.

Tip #2: When you can’t make it to your commitments…

It’s completely okay to call in sick to work, uni, sport, or social commitments if you’re mental health is suffering. Take some time to rest and nurture yourself as best as you can, but you can’t put off things like work forever. It might be a good idea to give yourself two or three days and then return to work / uni / wherever. You will need to return eventually, but it’s completely valid to take a mental health break.

Tip #3: When you can’t change out of your pajamas…

Don’t worry if you don’t feel like putting on ‘real clothes’. If you’re staying at home, you don’t need to. Use the above hygiene suggestions to freshen up if you can. If you’re someone with long hair, brushing it and tying it back can also make you feel neater and cleaner too. And even if you can’t change out of your pajamas today, it’s a good idea to make an effort to change your underwear.

Tip #4: When you can’t cook…

Feeling like you’re unable to cook a meal is common. The worst thing that you can do if you’re feeling this way is to just not eat at all. If you’re in a position to do so, ordering food is a great option. Thankfully, we have delivery services like UBER Eats and Deliveroo now, which can be really helpful. If you can’t afford to order in, packet meals like Easy Mac, frozen dinners, and Mi Goreng can be really good. Their nutritional benefits might be low, but they’re better than nothing. If you’re low on food at home but can’t make it to the grocery store, try ordering online (Woolworths and Coles have online delivery services). Eating is important, and drinking plenty of water is also a necessity.

Tip #5: When you can’t clean…

It’s okay, and completely understandable, if you feel unable to clean the house when you’re low. You might not feel up to washing your bed sheets, but shaking off any crumbs and changing your pillowcase if you can is a good start. The dishes can also pile up quickly, but if you don’t feel up to doing them, just rinse any food bits off and put them aside. If you feel up to it, tidying is also a really good idea. You might not feel like dusting and vacuuming but if you can move dirty clothes into a basket and clear any surfaces, you’ll be thankful later.

I hope that this article is never ever needed, but I also think that is a naive way of thinking. Unfortunately, bad days happen, but you shouldn’t let your physical health and hygiene suffer because your mental health is suffering. When you don’t feel up to doing anything, these little somethings I’ve discussed here might pop into your head. I hope that these tips make it easier to freshen up and take care of yourself when you’re really down and, as always, we encourage you to seek help and talk with someone if you can. Be the champion of your mental health, and find your team. You’re not alone!

If you’re struggling, we’re here to help. What Messes with Your Head is a safe space to talk, so please talk with us if you need. Or, the University’s counselling services can be found on the ground floor of the Horace Lamb Building. You can also get in contact online or by phone. Take care of yourselves, as best as you can.

*Libby has now graduated from her degree and ventured off into the wild blue yonder, but she left us with a few last posts that we’ll be publishing over the next few months.

The What Messes with Your Head Blog is all about the student experiences. It’s written by students, for students!

What Messes with Your Head is not a counselling service. If you would like to make contact with a counsellor during business hours, please contact Counselling Support, and if you need after hours support, please call the University of Adelaide Crisis Support Line on 1300 167 654 or text 0488 884 197 (5pm to 9am weekdays; 24 hours weekends and public holidays).

For more resources related to student health and wellbeing, please visit our Wellbeing Hub website.

This blog has moved. New posts can be found in the Wellbeing Hub news.

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