Self-Care Strategies To Use When You Don’t Feel Like Caring For Yourself

By: Sarah Fader

Updated January 21, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn

It isn’t easy to care for yourself when you’re not feeling mentally well. Self-care practices might seem impossible to try. Spending time alone may seem like a daunting thing. But there are ways to engage in emotional self-care that will better your physical and mental health. Pay attention to what you consume. Make sure that you are eating high-quality food as opposed to junk food. If you’re interested in the connection between food and mental health, you can read medically reviewed articles about the topic. And engage in everyday physical exercise. Good self-care is an essential part of wellbeing. Unfortunately, when you struggle with mental health issues, it can be difficult to care for yourself. That’s why it’s essential to use self-care strategies. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or any other mental health diagnosis, self-care can be difficult. It’s crucial to have a good self-care plan no matter what your mental health condition is, but it’s even more critical when you’re dealing with symptoms of mental illness. Medically reviewed reports show that self-care can improve depression. Here are some ways you can care for yourself, even when you’re depressed or managing something like a manic state in bipolar disorder. When you find time to care for yourself, your quality of life improves.

Baby Steps


Emotional self-care is crucial to practice when you’re feeling down. You need to be kind to yourself and not overwhelm your mind and body. If you’re in the midst of depression, it can feel impossible to do anything. You want to engage in self-care practices, but it’s scary to think they might not help. Despite your fear, there are small steps you can take to help yourself. Instead of creating large goals for yourself, start with little achievable goals. Reward yourself for getting out of bed. That’s a huge accomplishment for someone who has a mental health condition. Friends and family may judge you for being “lazy” or “unmotivated” when you’re anxious or depressed. These individuals may not understand how severe mental health problems can be. Try not to worry about other people’s opinions of you. You’re the one who matters. Start by getting out of bed. Once you’ve done that, you can work your way up to taking a shower. You might not be ready to do that right away. Maybe you need to eat something first or sit in a different room. Getting out of your bedroom could be a step toward self-care. Knowing that things will take longer when you’re depressed, set aside time to do even the smallest tasks. Engaging in these manageable self-care practices can hugely help you.

Chronic Pain And Self-Care

Chronic pain is a challenging condition to manage because other people cannot see it. They may not understand what you’re experiencing. Part of self-care when it comes to the condition is validating that your experiences and feelings are real. It’s not easy to advocate for yourself when you live with chronic pain because you might feel misunderstood, but it can help you feel better. When you talk about your condition, others will better understand how you feel on a mind-body level. You’re not complaining about your diagnosis but rather educating your loved ones or co-workers on what you experience. When they encounter someone with chronic pain other than you, they will better understand it. Another element of the condition is that it involves physical and emotional self-care. You need to tend to your mind and body. If you’re unsure of how to get treatment for your condition, speak to your doctor so they can help you develop a care plan.

Get Active


When you’re feeling depressed, it can result in sluggishness or lethargy. That’s why it’s helpful to force yourself to get active. It’s not easy, of course, but it’s a form of self-care. The first step to getting on the move is radical acceptance. You’re going to feel numb or fatigued. Accept the fact that you don’t want to exercise or go outside, but do it anyway. It’s a difficult transition to go from stationary to active, but you can do it. Take small steps, and you will get there! It can also help to have a clear goal in mind. If you want to bridge the gap, you can use self-care strategies for depression. Maybe you want to get outside and go for a run. Exercise of any kind can provide anxiety and stress relief. But, remember to start small. You don’t have to jump from being inactive to running a marathon. That’s not how this is going to work. What might help is to create a plan of action. You can have fun with it as well. Get a bunch of colorful post notes and write steps that lead from inaction to action. The first step would be getting out of bed. The next step would be walking to the living room. The next step would be eating breakfast. After that, you can put clothes on. Write each of these small steps on a post note. You can put these notes on your wall. If you need to break things down into smaller steps, that can help too. It doesn’t matter how small these milestones are. What matters is that you were taking steps towards action. When you complete each task, take the post-it off the wall and throw it in the garbage. Or you can take a marker and write a checkmark to say that you completed it. You’re practicing one of the most valuable self-care strategies: not giving up when you feel depressed. It’s tempting to let everything go and surrender to depression. But when you engage in one of the self-care strategies that combat depression, you win against this mental health condition. Before you know it, you’ll be achieving milestone after milestone. Try the post-it notes tech. It can be one of your self-care strategies.

Get Outside


Depression has a horrible effect on people in terms of getting out of the house. According to medically reviewed studies, depression can improve from getting outside. It’s tempting to want to sleep all day because you feel so badly. And it’s a vicious cycle. But once you get out of the house, you will feel better. Those medically reviewed studies know what they’re talking about, so it’s worth a shot. When you go for a walk, you will take care of your body. You’re exercising and getting fresh air, and those endorphins are going through your body. You are using self-care to help your mind and physical being. When you’re on a walk, you can use mindfulness to enhance your exercise. Getting outside will improve your quality of life. You will start to feel better about your well-being and mental health. When you’re stuck in your house, your quality of life is being impacted negatively. All you see are the four walls around you. Getting out and walking can help. Even if you’re just walking around the block, it is a mental palate cleanser. When you spend time outside just being with yourself, you will begin to feel better, and you’ll be proud that you engaged in self-care. You can make going out part of your regular routine so that you can work hard to combat depression. Regular exercise and physical activity help with stress relief and improve your long-term mental health.

Watch A Funny Movie


You can practice self-care even when you’re feeling depressed. One way to do that is by watching a funny movie. It’s a distraction from your pain, and you don’t need to leave the house to do it. Watching a film is an excellent way to practice self-care because it’s low maintenance. All you need to do is sit down (or lay on the couch) and enjoy it. You might like comedies, or check out a documentary. Whatever makes you feel good, do that. And don’t expect everything to be magically better. Depression is something that takes time to treat. However, you can take small steps to give yourself some distraction or relief from those feelings’ intensity. Watching a movie or a funny show can give you some stress relief after a tough day. According to medically reviewed research, studies show that watching a humorous film can improve your mood.

Be Gentle With Yourself

Part of emotional self-care means treating yourself as you would a good friend. Self-compassion is an excellent way to practice self-care. When you’re kind to yourself, you will be more confident. Remember that taking care of yourself has a mind-body component. Be kind to your mind and physical body. Many people feel like being depressed is their fault. They’ve been told that they’re lazy or not trying hard enough. You didn’t choose to be depressed. You could be engaging in mental health services, such a therapy, and you’re still struggling. Don’t blame yourself for your depression. Understand that you’re doing the best you can now, and that’s all you can do. Take it one minute at a time, one second if you need to, and keep going. Medically reviewed studies show that self-compassion improves your mental health.

Simplify Your life

When you’re feeling depressed, you may also experience overwhelming emotions. One of the best self-care tips is to release what’s not working. It’s okay to let go of things and people that don’t serve you. It’s time to simplify your life as part of self-care practices. You need to downsize and focus on what makes you happy. That’s part of healthy emotional self-care. You might be the type of person who likes to stay active and engaged in many things. That’s a wonderful quality, but it can also be overwhelming. It can be helpful to prioritize what matters and leave the rest. One thing that helps is connecting with a therapist online.

Online Therapy And Self-Care Work Together

An online therapist can help you develop a self-care plan. You might feel like your energy is low, and you have no incentive to care for yourself. That doesn’t mean you need to give up. A counselor can help you develop a solid self-care plan that incorporates easy ways to nurture your mind and body. It’s also a matter of doing these activities every day. When you have a self-care routine, it makes life a lot easier. The skilled online mental health professionals at BetterHelp know the value of therapy. They want to help you foster a self-care routine that is feasible for your life. Even if you’re scared to get help, take one step forward and reach out to an online therapist. You’ve got nothing to lose.

Previous Article

Try Guided Mindfulness Meditation To Escape Stressful Moments

Next Article

Learn How to Take Better Care Of Yourself With Self-Care
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist Today
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.