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How to Create and Use Self Care Plans in Major Depression

Updated on July 29, 2013
Pet therapy can be a wonderful part of a self care plan.
Pet therapy can be a wonderful part of a self care plan. | Source

The Importance of Self Care for Those with Depression

Caring for yourself is never as important as it is when you are suffering from depression. For those with depression who experience intermittent episodes of Major Depression, periods of time when depression is much more severe, self care can be an anchor to restoring prior good health.

Self care is a practice that should be learned during periods of wellness and incorporated into daily living. By learning it while well, it is almost routine to do it during periods of severe depression even though motivation may be lacking and emotional despair may prevail.

Simply stated, self care is what can be done to soothe, calm and relax one's self. Self care is typically small, everyday acts that are very personal to each individual that have meaning and bring comfort, peace or joy. Good self care also reduces stress and anxiety.

Gardening can be a very relaxing hobby for those with Major Depression.
Gardening can be a very relaxing hobby for those with Major Depression. | Source

How to Create a Self Care Plan - A Step by Step Guide

  1. Identify learned coping skills. Coping skills are those behaviors that help you deal with difficult feelings, situations and stressors. Some coping skills are practiced instinctively by some individuals while others must be learned. Examples of coping skills are: deep breathing, muscle relaxation, positive self talk, visualization, taking breaks from stressful situations, and so on.
  2. Identify those activities that you enjoy or bring you comfort and peace. This would seem to be easy; but for someone with depression, it can be difficult to find joy in anything at the time it is necessary to create a self care plan. It may be necessary to remember some things that usually make you feel good or make you happy. Examples include: spending time gardening, having a favorite cup of hot tea, listening to music, spending time with pets, being outdoors, and so forth.
  3. Identify emotional outlets. Emotional outlets are ways to help process thoughts and emotions. They allow for creativity while also serving a great purpose in thought processing. Examples include: knitting, crocheting, painting, playing musical instruments, woodworking, scrapbooking, furniture refinishing, etc....
  4. Find opportunities to laugh. This is important for everyone, depressed or not. Laughter is a great way to decrease stress and improve quality of life. Watch a comedy, find jokes online, or visit a friend who makes you laugh. The important thing is to laugh. It really is good medicine!
  5. Increase physical activity. Even a slight increase in physical activity can promote a sense of well-being in the depressed person. Walking outdoors, bicycling, gardening, playing with children and grandchildren are all excellent ways to increase physical activity!

Video Tip: Relieve Anxiety Quickly and Easily

How to Use a Self Care Plan

When it all is said and done the self care plan should include enough structure for the person using it to have simple effective actions to take for periods of emotional overload or crisis. There is no magic number of activities to identify. What is important is to understand how and when each activity will be used.

Examples of how to use a self care plan are as follows:

  • I am feeling very anxious. I going to do some slow deep breathing until the feeling goes away.
  • I am feeling good today! My morning is productive. It is time for a cup of hot tea. Can't wait to feel the warmth of the cup and smell the aroma of the tea. I will savor the peaceful moment!
  • I am sad today and tearful. I don't feel like going out and don't have much energy. I will crochet for a little while on the couch.
  • I am angry for all that has happened. I don't understand why it had to happen to me! I am going to write all of my thoughts on paper. Then, I can tear them up and throw them away!
  • What a horrible confrontation! She told me I don't know how to do anything! I feel like I am going to cry but I am at work. I'm going to take a few minutes for myself and do some muscle relaxation to work this out. I need a little quiet time and space.



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    • Jilly McWhorter profile image

      Jilly McWhorter 

      5 years ago from Davenport, Iowa

      I have suffered from depression and I find all of these suggestions to be very true. Thank you for writing a truly helpful article!

    • kansasyarn profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Sanderson 

      7 years ago from Rural Midwest

      misslong123, Thanks so much for reading. By all means, feel free to link to this article to provide your readers with more information!

    • misslong123 profile image

      Michele Kelsey 

      7 years ago from Edmond, Oklahoma

      Excellent job at showing how you can work on Depression at home by using those treatments. You had great ideas! I am writing a hub on Depression and would love to refer readers here to show them some more home remedies that I did not think up. Would that be okay?

    • kansasyarn profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Sanderson 

      7 years ago from Rural Midwest

      I agree completely! By caring for ourselves up front and just being kind to ourselves we can be happier and minimize our risks for other mental and physical illnesses. Thanks for your comment!

    • Plus Size Mom profile image

      Natalie Maureen 

      7 years ago from Florida, USA

      Depression is the most common disease because for financial crisis. Thank you so much for writing such a great piece of content about how to tackle it.

    • kansasyarn profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Sanderson 

      7 years ago from Rural Midwest

      Thanks for the comment!

    • MotherWisdom profile image

      Katherine Parker 

      7 years ago from Indiana

      I know this works. Depression is something I have struggled with my whole life. My doctor checked my seratonin. It was at about 42 when it should be around 200. So when I say this works, it is coming from tried and true use. Always learning more is a valuable tool.

    • kansasyarn profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Sanderson 

      7 years ago from Rural Midwest

      Glad you found it helpful!

    • Faith A Mullen profile image

      Faith A Mullen 

      7 years ago

      Great article of ideas for those suffering with depression. I think the seriousness of chronic depression is often underestimated by those who have not experienced it, so I appreciate those who understand its debilitating symptoms.

    • kansasyarn profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Sanderson 

      7 years ago from Rural Midwest

      I'm so glad you found the information helpful! Thanks for your kind comments!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Love the information this Hub offers to those who suffer depression. I know quite a few individuals who are chronic suffers of depression and know that one technique might not work for another. That being said, having options to deal with one's depress is very important for managing this awful condition. Kudos on a job well-done!

    • dkm27 profile image


      8 years ago from Chicago

      Anyone suffering from any type of mental illness should look into Recovery, International.


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