Depression, anxiety, and much more can impact so many different parts of life. Yes, even our hygiene. This is something that isn’t talked about enough because it may be embarrassing and stigmatized. However, you’re not alone in this struggle. Sometimes, when things become too overwhelming for us, we have to go back to the basics in life. This can be different for everyone, but when it comes to severe depression many people may go days without brushing their teeth or showering. In the end, that makes us feel worse about ourselves. Simple tasks can become too overwhelming to keep track of when times are hard.
When life becomes too much to bear, we have to focus on the simple parts of life. It is important to focus on what we can control rather than what we cannot. Sometimes you may not feel like it, but brushing your teeth, taking a shower or bath, and combing your hair can make a big difference in how you feel. No, it won’t solve all of the problems that live rent-free in our minds, but it’s a baby step to feeling better and being in control of our lives. It’s what we can do. It prevents disease and keeps us focused on something other than our pain.
I’ve struggled with this symptom of depression and anxiety. I’ve gone days without drinking water or brushing my teeth, and I’m embarrassed by that. However, the more open I am with others, the more I see that I’m not alone. Acknowledging the issue itself is the first step, and if we need to, asking for help is the second. My therapist told me to focus on the little things when I’m in crisis, so that’s what I’ve been doing. Using mouthwash and keeping up with my hygiene makes me feel much better about my situation.
Another amazing thing about keeping up with your hygiene is that all of these steps can help with Dialectical Behavior Therapy. (DBT teaches people how to live in the moment, develop healthy ways to cope with stress, regulate their emotions, and improve their relationships with others.) For example, I put lemonade flavoring in my water to keep me hydrated. The taste of the lemonade takes me away from my anxiety for a moment. The feeling of a hot shower can distract us even if it’s just for ten minutes.
However, if standing in a shower is too much for you, try sitting in a bath. If a bath feels too long, take a short one. Bathe by the sink if you have to. If standing in the mirror is too hard on you, sit down while you brush your hair. Brush your hair in bed if you have to. There are no rules, sometimes we just need to do what works, no matter how small. Over time, these things will add up, I promise.
Savannah H., guest blogger