How To Love Yourself When Dealing With Depression

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Love Yourself Dealing Depression

“Love yourself not in some egocentric, self-serving sense but love yourself the way you would love your friend in the sense of taking care of yourself, nourishing yourself, trying to understand, comfort, and strengthen yourself.” ― Frederick Buechner

Why Loving Yourself Is Important

Loving yourself is important as it may just be one critically important step to help you deal with your depression. Furthermore, depression can do a number on your relationships. By working to develop a positive, loving, relationship with yourself, you will be supporting your ability to have productive, balanced healthy relationships with your friends, family, and colleagues. 

This article speaks to what it means to develop a relationship with yourself and how to love yourself, with 5 strategies to do this in the face of depression.

Related: How To Find Inner Peace: 8 Strategies You Can Start Right Now

What Does It Mean to Love Yourself Anyway

Loving yourself simply means that you care for and appreciate yourself in a similar way that you would for a friend or family member. It means that you take the time to get to know yourself, respect yourself and develop a relationship with yourself. Furthermore, it means that you will take care of yourself and practice the habits that will enhance your wellbeing and protect you from harm.

As they say, “love is patient and love is kind”. Loving yourself means that you put this into practice with regard to yourself as much as you would for other people. It is all of the things you do for another person that you love, things like appreciating your flaws, seeing the good in yourself, forgiving yourself, and so on.

How Depression Impacts Your Love for Yourself

If you are fighting depression there is an inner struggle that will no doubt impact how you feel about yourself and your relationship with yourself. 

In fact, the struggle with depression is often a condition in which the opposite takes place, there is a loathing of the self, which can turn into self-harm or other destructive behaviors. This might be to escape the pain and discomfort of depression and it might be for a lack of care for the self.

It’s important to remember that depression is a serious mental health illness and when one struggles with depression, their sense of self is distorted as well as their perception of reality. Suicide and thoughts of suicide are common symptoms of depression and are another aspect of distorted thinking that comes into play when depression is present. 

Working on and developing a relationship, a love for yourself, is one way to address depression and heal the relationship one has with themselves.

How to Find a Love for Yourself When Dealing with Depression

#1 Practice Self Care

Self-care at this point, will not come easily, as doing something nice for yourself is the last thing you probably want to think about, or can think about right now. You’d be much more apt to punish yourself rather than care for yourself. But it is in times like these where you can embrace the catch-all ‘fake it till you make it” mentality where you don’t question it or think about it, you just do it.

And the important thing to remember here is to pick the easy things that you can do that will start to make small differences that might give you the energy to tackle some of the bigger ones. 

We aren’t talking about reinventing yourself or beginning a Ph.D. program, we are talking about daily self-care chores, things like taking care of your hygiene, eating healthy, non-processed foods, taking a walk outside, and maybe making sure that you connect with a friend or family member every day.

When you are feeling a little better and can step up your self-care routine a little, you might want to incorporate other activities, like taking your lunch away from your desk every day, finding a favorite book, booking in some spa or salon time, whatever it is that is going to help you to find the love and appreciation for yourself, which is hidden underneath the layers of depression.

love yourself depression

#2 Refrain from Self Judgement

You know that you are your own worst critic most of the time, self-judging, condemning words reign throughout the inner dialogue in your head. The first step towards loving yourself is to give yourself a break. Cut yourself the slack you would give to a friend. You are human, you are not perfect, you will make mistakes, and that is all ok.

The research speaks to this close connection between depression and perfectionism, that those who focus on getting it just right, will suffer from poor mental health, in particular depression. This is a larger conversation and if this is something that you struggle with, then it would be helpful to think about therapy to help you work through your particular challenges around this. 

But the topic of this article is one sure-fire way to address, the self-judgment we impose on ourselves, and that is having and building the self-love you have for yourself.

Adopt the growth mindset, that you are on a constant continuum towards improvement, that you may not be there today but that you are moving in that direction. Another way to combat this self-critic is to look for the things that you are ok with and to focus on them, write them down, and remind yourself of them. 

Also, don’t compare yourself to your friends, you are all on your own path, your own journey, it might look good for them, but they have their own battles. Focus on your path and the things that you do have going on for yourself.

Related: 10 Signs You Need To Take Care Of Yourself (And How To Start)

#3 Forgive Yourself

As I said above, we all make mistakes, we all give in when we shouldn’t, we all prioritize the wrong things at times. Allowing yourself room for mistakes is part of loving yourself and not beating yourself up. This is where that ugly, pesky negativity bias creeps in, where you focus on the things that you are not doing well with rather than the things that you are doing well.

Developing self-compassion is another process, but at the heart of it is allowing room for mistakes and that you are doing the best that you can at this point in time. Acknowledging that to yourself and at times, (if in hot water), to someone else, can make a big difference.

Be open to the fact that you have made an error and that you will work to get better. That is sometimes all we can do and that is also ok… if you are picking up on a theme of acceptance here, well then you got it… cuz, that’s kinda it. Acceptance is where it’s at.

#4 Maintain Boundaries

This is an important one, especially when it comes to other relationships.  It’s hard to maintain separation at times, depending on the relationship, much more so with intimate relationships, where the lines can get real blurry, real fast. When we maintain boundaries we are able to say “no” to people and let people know what is or is not ok.

Examples of situations in which you might need to set some limits are:

  • A neighbor or friend dropping by unannounced, as they did in the old days… this could be hard depending on the friendship, but it’s ok to ask them to maybe shoot you a quick text or call if and when they need/want to stop by. Life is different now and what may have been ok in the past may or may not be ok now.
  • Your boss asking you to work extra evening hours at an event or function. If you work in a job where there is a union, this will be easier, as they do a lot of the boundary maintenance for you, however, in the private sector, this may not be so easy. Learning to say no and maintain your personal priorities is important. If you say yes, it should be because that is what you want to do and you are ok with the extra time.
  • In romantic relationships, feelings of jealousy and insecurity can be easily confused. Owning your feelings is a way to maintain some boundaries. Lots more to discuss here, a possible future post? 
  • If you enjoy alone time, that is ok too, build that time in and let your family know you need this time to yourself. In fact, there is a ton of research out there about the benefits of time alone, how it impacts creativity and helps you to develop a relationship with yourself, essential in a world where it is sometimes hard to find 2 minutes alone… for many, the only time they get alone might be in the bathroom. 

Maintaining boundaries will get easier, for as your self-love and self-compassion grow, so too will your ability to maintain boundaries.

#5 Therapy

If you are struggling with depression, you might want to consider therapy. Therapy won’t solve all of your problems, but it will provide the support you need to help you work through your mental health challenges.

If you are struggling to find the right therapist, you can check out Online Therapy.com. I have included my affiliate link here where you can get 20% off. This is a great virtual option that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. I have included a video below that gives you a little more information about who they are and their approach to therapy.

Loving Yourself and the Impact on Relationships

In order to to have productive, healthy, and fulfilling relationships with other people, you first need to have a healthy relationship with yourself. This is where developing a relationship with yourself and loving yourself come into play. 

When you can love and appreciate yourself, you will be able to approach your relationships, intimate and platonic, in a much more self-assured and confident manner. In many ways, the first relationship and the most important relationship to focus on is the one you have with yourself, from there good things, or at least honest things will come from your other relationships.

Related: Why You Feel Empty Inside? 6 Probable Reasons and How To Cope

Having Love for Yourself Helps Your Relationships By:

  • Being true to yourself.
  • Being a better partner, friend, or colleague.
  • Maintaining healthy boundaries, knowing your limits..
  • Will protect you from abuse in relationships.
  • Having balance in your life.
  • Maintaining some independence.
  • It will help you be able to separate feelings, things can get confusing sometimes!

Loving Yourself is/ Loving Yourself is not

Loving yourself is:

  • Listening to your gut.
  • Taking walks by yourself or with a friend.
  • Getting physical activity.
  • Taking breaks from work.
  • Sleeping in on a Saturday morning.
  • Making a home-cooked meal.
  • Getting a fresh haircut.
  • Saying no when you need to.
  • Treating yourself every once in a while.
  • Hiring someone to clean your home.

Loving yourself is not:

  • Working straight through your shift/day without a break.
  • Not seeing the sun.
  • Sitting at a desk all-day.
  • Operating on minimal sleep.
  • Doing what everyone else wants you to do.
  • Ignoring your inner voice.

Related: The 10 Basic Do’s And Don’ts Of Depression

Wrapping It Up

When you have love for yourself, everything else will fall into place. The things that you thought were important might not matter as much and the things you didn’t think mattered too much, will begin to emerge. 

In the end, if you are not true to yourself and understand who you are, what you need, and at the same time appreciating that, then you are kinda missing out on a pretty awesome part of life. You are a cool person, a unique person, there is no one else in the entire world like you! And that right there is something to love!

Join the Upside Down Flan Community, a professional mental health forum where you will learn how you can turn YOUR life right side up, sign up here for my weekly newsletter where you will have access to all of my free mental health tools and easy tips! 

Check out Meredith Flanagan’s new website, Right Side Up Therapy, now!


Written By Meredith Flanagan
Originally Appeared On Upside Down Flan
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