"Self-care is not about pampering ourselves; it’s about looking after ourselves because we matter"

Depression can sap our energy and motivation, making it hard to keep up with the basic tasks of everyday life. 

Performing routine activities like maintaining one’s appearance or living space can feel infinitely more difficult when suffering from depression. [1]

A lot of factors contribute to recovery from depression, but it all starts with looking after the basics with good self-care.

The Basics

Personal Hygiene and Appearance

One of the most common struggles for men experiencing depression is maintaining personal hygiene and grooming habits.[2] It may not seem that important, but poor hygiene and a lack of attention to one’s appearance can contribute to lower self-esteem, mood, and motivation, as well as an increased tendency to avoid being social.[2] 

Taking simple, manageable steps to maintain our hygiene and appearance can help us feel more like ourselves, boost our self-esteem and improve our overall well-being. This can also make us far more likely to leave the house, interact with others socially, and even connect with professional treatment. [2, 3] 

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Brush and floss daily
  • Bathe/shower regularly
  • Use deodorant (keep it in an accessible and visible area, e.g., nightstand) 
  • Get regular haircuts (opt for simple, easy-to-style haircuts)
  • Trim, clean up or shave facial hair to maintain the look you feel most confident with 
  • Choose simple and comfortable clothing to wear (it may help to pick out clothes for the next day before going to bed, so you don’t have to think about it in the morning)

Physical Health

Maintaining our physical health, just by itself, can help manage depression, reduce the severity of symptoms, and help create structure for other healthy habits.[4] Here are a few tips to prioritize:

Stay hydrated (this one is simple, but is still often overlooked)

  • Drink plenty of water; hydration is a key component of good health (keep a large bottle of water with you so you’re more inclined to stay hydrated throughout the day, and so you don’t have to fill up as often) 
  • Create a routine to stay hydrated (e.g., have a cup of tea, coffee, or water in the morning, then make sure to have another drink after each time you use the toilet throughout the day)

Eat a healthy diet

Avoid poor coping strategies

  • Dealing with depression is tough enough, so try to avoid creating additional issues by limiting or reducing alcohol and/or drug use

Physical activity

  • Engaging in physical activity is known to help reduce depressive symptoms, stress and anxiety. It also helps to improve sleep, increase self-esteem, and reduce the chance of developing other health issues [4]
  • Keep it simple! Get some movement by going for a short walk, taking the stairs when possible, taking the dog out, parking further away from the door at the grocery store parking lot, etc. 

If walking or going outside is too daunting, try getting some movement at home by doing some simple stretches. We have tons of tips to get you started on our Physical Activity page.

Lifestyle

Always try to do your future self a favour by completing tasks and chores sooner rather than later. Breaking down and prioritizing tasks will help fight procrastination and feeling overwhelmed. 

Manage basic chores

Prioritize common tasks:

  • Keep up with laundry 
  • Regularly take out the garbage, recycling, and/or compost
  • Wash dishes after using them (try listening to music or a podcast while doing)
  • Put things away after using (a decluttered and clean space promotes feelings of accomplishment and positive mood) [5, 6] 
  • Make your bed in the morning
  • Identify the top 2-3 tasks that you have been putting off or the tasks that you feel would make the most impact on how you feel/your well-being – then tackle these one at a time [7]
  • Create a routine or pattern for completing chores e.g., if you know you usually have energy in the morning, set aside time (whether it’s 30 minutes or 5 minutes) during this time for chores/household tasks [8]
  • Rest. Give yourself a break between tasks. If you’ve planned more tasks than you feel you can actually accomplish once you get to it, that’s okay!

If you keep your place relatively clean and organized, you may also be more likely to invite someone over and be more social. 

Be mindful of news and social media consumption

Media can have significantly negative impacts on our mental well-being, raising levels of both depression and anxiety, exacerbating negative thought patterns, and creating negative world-views [9-11]

  • Limit time spent watching the news (on TV or scrolling on websites/social media platforms)
  • If you feel yourself making comparisons to others you see on social media, or if you feel yourself consuming social media mindlessly, try making adjustments and/or limitations to the types of people and content you follow or consume 
    • If checking the news and/or social media is a part of your routine that you can’t skip, set a short timer (5-10 minutes) on your phone before turning the TV on or opening an app to help ensure you’re not spending too much time on it [12]
    • Social media is designed to capture and hold your attention. Don’t beat yourself up if you realize you’ve suddenly spent an hour scrolling through Instagram; just note when it happens and try to be more mindful next time.
    • There are also apps or settings we can use to limit time spent on websites/apps, helping to make sure we don’t spend countless hours scrolling through random clips.
  • You can also try gradually replacing your time spent on your phone/watching TV with tech-free hobbies, physical activity, or talking to a friend [12]
  • Note the types of media you consume and the way they impact your mood; limit or avoid your consumption of negative, sad, scary, or anxiety-inducing books, TV shows, music, movies, etc.

Make time to laugh each day

  • Laughter gives our minds a rest and pulls us away from dark thoughts. It also can remind us that life can be enjoyable and spur us to work toward recovery, so we can feel more free to laugh and enjoy life. 

Keep in contact with friends and loved ones

Though it can be exhausting when in a depressed state, maintaining contact with friends and loved ones can be crucial to maintaining our well-being.

  • Reach out to a friend or family member with a quick text or call; you don’t have to start a long conversation. You can just let them know that you’re around or that you’re thinking about them.
    • If you haven’t spoken in a while, ask them to update you about their life and how they’ve been doing 
    • Catch up about events, sports, pop culture, hobbies, or any other shared interests
    • Ask them for recommendations for new music to listen to, books, TV shows, recipes, etc.
    • Or just simply ask how their day is going
  • If you’re not feeling up to having a conversation, you can send a concise text; this will keep you socially connected without the potential stress of a lengthy conversation e.g., “Hey, just wanted to let you know that I’ve been thinking about you. It’s been hard for me to keep up with my texts lately, but I hope you’re doing well.”
  • Invite a friend over for a coffee or to watch a show; both are relatively brief, low-pressure activities.
  • If you have the energy, try getting out of the house with a friend or loved one. Getting outside and engaging socially, even if it’s for a short conversation, can help reduce rumination and keep your attention in the present [12]

Depression can really wear us down and keep us from feeling like ourselves. By taking care of the little things that contribute to good self-care, you’ll be more apt to feel like a healthier version of yourself and give yourself a strong foundation for your recovery.

Next Steps:


References:

  1. Hammer-Helmich, L., Haro, J. M., Jönsson, B., Tanguy Melac, A., Di Nicola, S., Chollet, J., Milea, D., Rive, B., & Saragoussi, D. (2018). Functional impairment in patients with major depressive disorder: the 2-year PERFORM study. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 14, 239–249. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S146098
  2. Roster, C. A., Ferrari, J. R., & Peter Jurkat, M. (2016). The dark side of home: Assessing possession “clutter” on subjective well-being. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 46, 32–41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2016.03.003
  3. Stewart, V., Judd, C., & Wheeler, A. J. (2022). Practitioners’ experiences of deteriorating personal hygiene standards in people living with depression in Australia: A qualitative study. Health & Social Care in the Community, 30(4), 1589–1598. https://doi.org/10.1111/hsc.13491
  4. Olivan-Blázquez, B., Montero-Marin, J., García-Toro, M., Vicens-Pons, E., Serrano-Ripoll, M. J., Castro-Gracia, A., Sarasa-Bosque, M. C., Mendive-Arbeloa, J. M., López-del-Hoyo, Y., & Garcia-Campayo, J. (2018). Facilitators and barriers to modifying dietary and hygiene behaviours as adjuvant treatment in patients with depression in primary care: A qualitative study. BMC Psychiatry, 18, Article 205. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-018-1779-7
  5. Goracci, A., Rucci, P., Forgione, R. N., Campinoti, G., Valdagno, M., Casolaro, I., Carretta, E., Bolognesi, S., & Fagiolini, A. (2016). Development, acceptability and efficacy of a standardized healthy lifestyle intervention in recurrent depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 196, 20–31. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2016.02.034
  6. Marks, J.L. (2023). How to Clean Your House if Depression Is Getting in Your Way. Everyday Health. https://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/clean-house-when-youre-depressed.aspx
  7. Haworth, N. (2021). 20 Tips on Cleaning a Depression Nest. https://www.ontaskorganizing.com/20-tips-on-cleaning-a-depression-nest/
  8. Taylor-Jackson, J., & Moustafa, A. A. (2021). The relationships between social media use and factors relating to depression. In The Nature of Depression (pp. 171–182). Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-817676-4.00010-9 
  9. Boukes, M., & Vliegenthart, R. (2017). News consumption and its unpleasant side effect: Studying the effect of hard and soft news exposure on mental well-being over time. Journal of Media Psychology: Theories, Methods, and Applications, 29(3), 137–147. https://doi.org/10.1027/1864-1105/a000224
  10. McLaughlin, B., Gotlieb, M. R., & Mills, D. J. (2022). Caught in a Dangerous World: Problematic News Consumption and Its Relationship to Mental and Physical Ill-Being. Health Communication, 1–11, 35999665. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2022.2106086 
  11. Huff, C. (2022). Media overload is hurting our mental health. Here are ways to manage headline stress. Monitor on Psychology, 53(8), 20. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2022/11/strain-media-overload 
  12. Tremblay, G., Rodrigues, N. C., & Gulati, S. (2021). Mental Hygiene: What It Is, Implications, and Future Directions. Journal of Prevention and Health Promotion, 2(1), 3–31. https://doi.org/10.1177/26320770211000376

THIS IS MEN'S HEALTH WEEK | JUNE 10-16TH, 2024

Men's Health Week takes place annually in mid-June, during the week preceding Father’s Day. The week is not just a campaign, but a call to action for men to take better care of their health and for communities to support men in this endeavour.

Men's Health Week 2024