Think about a beauty product that brings you the greatest happiness: perhaps it is your lavish facial mask. Red lipstick that only erupts on special occasions. A perfume that will bring you back to the past. Whatever it is, even in the worst days, a product – and the ritual of using it – can be deeply cathartic. Of course, it may not have any substantive or immediate effect, but the texture, smell and even beautiful packaging will make people feel good. More importantly, the simple act of doing something for yourself, that is, self-care, can greatly improve your happiness.
Of course, self-care is not limited to daily beauty, psychologist Jenny Yip, Psy D. , ABPP explained. “It can be anything: walking five minutes or more between tasks, such as three hours of treatment at a spa,” she said. “When we focus on self-care, we just take a break from our busy lives – we all need time off to maintain our mental health.”
However, for people with mental illness, the practice of self-care, especially in beauty, can sometimes be complex. Although it turns out to be beneficial in many ways, if you also experience mental health symptoms, implementing self-care procedures can be challenging – or look a little different.
Next, with the support of ulta beauty, we talked to several women with mental illness, some of whom asked to be anonymous, to understand how their beauty habits were affected. With more insights from medical professionals, we explored the link between self-care and mental health.
Self care sometimes feels non-existent
If your beauty procedures or self-care programs tend to change depending on your mental health, you’re not alone: Rebecca, 39, was diagnosed with anxiety and depression in her 20s. She said when she was depressed, “If I can brush my teeth, take a bath or wash my face, I’m lucky. I think, what’s the point? On days when I feel anxious, I’m like, I just don’t have time. This basic self-care doesn’t exist at all,” she said
Hannah *, 40, was diagnosed with generalized anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and panic disorder. She said her symptoms would affect her ability to adhere to daily life in different ways. “On days when I’m really depressed, I skip all my skin care procedures and use only moisturizers. I don’t want to make up at all. I’ll wait as long as I can until I have a meeting or something I need to wear it, and I’ll dress just right.” But when she feels anxious, the opposite is true – she pays special attention to her makeup. “When I feel anxious, I want to find things I can control, accomplish and perform,” she said. “And makeup is just one of them.”
Dr. Ye pointed out that some symptoms affect people in different ways, and mental health disorders affect all aspects of people’s lives – not just their self-care habits. “Whenever a person is depressed, he doesn’t have the energy to accomplish anything, whether it’s related to their work, social life, family, or self-care,” she said. “With anxiety, a person has extra energy. They may use this energy in sports, social activities or anything to distract their attention, rather than what they are anxious and worried about.”
If your mental health is interfering with your daily life, including your ability to take care of yourself, it is essential to seek help. Professionals can help you determine the next steps that are best for you, which may include treatment or medication. They may also suggest lifestyle adjustments, such as finding ways to restore healthy sleep, diet and self-care, because these areas are easily disrupted when we feel bad. Experts say they have a demonstrable positive impact on mental health.
“Improving sleep quality is associated with improving mood, reducing irritability and anxiety,” said Gregory Scott Brown, MD, adding that meditation can help relieve physical and emotional pain, while exercise and breathing can improve mood and reduce anxiety (it is important to note that practicing self-care should not replace any treatment plan developed with your doctor, although it can support one.)
Find the routine that suits you
The experience of patients with mental illness we interviewed admitted that although self-care will feel more difficult when they have symptoms, trying to stick to a supportive daily life will eventually make them feel better.
It is not just the basics of sleeping, eating, walking or meditation that people find useful. Some beauty rituals (or a little extra time dedicated to the ceremony) can sometimes feel particularly soothing. In the final analysis, these practices are entirely personal; What is nurtured and useful to one person may not be so attractive to another. For example, Rebecca says she indulges in Epson salt baths every week with a book and her favorite 24 carat gold mask. “In addition, I try facial care once a month,” she added. “I realized it was a great privilege and I couldn’t do it financially for a few months, but that was the time I tried to set aside for myself.”
Angie *, 28, was diagnosed with major depression two years ago. Before seeking treatment, she said she had completely ignored her beauty procedures. “Small things like skin care programs can feel so big,” she said. Now, with the help of regular talk therapy, through the steps of her self-care ceremony, which usually includes the use of jade roller and the use of Kiehl’s Creme de corps soymilk honey to beat the body butter to moisturize, it feels very fruitful, “like what I have done is good for my body.”
Sarah, 33, found that her daily beauty steps made her feel energetic. I think it’s important to feel good about yourself, no matter what it means to you, “she said. “For me, it’s some moisturizing cream and some powder Blusher. I also like eyelashes. It just makes me feel better.”
Finding a ritual that suits you may require some experimentation. It also requires flexibility and self compassion – the goal here is balance, Dr. ye said. “Remember, the pursuit of perfection – such as adhering to the five step cleaning procedure or applying bright red lips or a winged Eyeliner every day – will only cause more anxiety, disappointment and depression, which is that you may become obsessed with your appearance or a part of your body,” she explained. She suggests setting boundaries by linking beauty to practices that feel good about you – and only you feel good about yourself. “Ask yourself if this activity makes me feel good, or do I do it for other purposes?” if it becomes stressful, let it pass.
Dr Brown added that it was crucial to see self-care – not a specific routine, but a practice as a whole – as a necessity rather than a reward. “We don’t see self-care as a good medicine because it is often attacked and some people think it is a luxury without practical value,” he said. “Developing a self-care manual for your mental health is to find something practical for you – and stick to it.”
baseline? Self care procedures or beauty programs don’t always look perfect and won’t always be plain sailing. “I still really need to hype myself to complete [my daily life],” Angie * said. “Suffering from major depression means taking care of yourself every day [feels] meaningless, and you shouldn’t. But I think it’s the least I can do for myself.”
If you are in crisis, please call the national suicide prevention lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the suicide crisis hotline 1-800-784-2433.
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