Radical vulnerability here: I have lived with recurrent major depression and G.A.D. (General Anxiety Disorder) since I was a young teen. I have professional support in this area, but that doesn’t fully prevent depressive episodes, panic attacks, and day-to-day anxiousness. I have had a lot of (very wonderful but huge) transition in my life this year, and with that and the current political and social injustice horrorshow we are experiencing here in the U.S., I had a particularly rough depression this summer, and that’s why I haven’t written a blog post in a while. Coming back to the blog, I’d like to share with you how my beauty and skin care routine are a part of my self-care.
Most of my self-care when I’m in a bad place involves one of these three things:
-Obtaining a sense of accomplishment by caring for my body or my home
-Getting into a state of “flow”
What is “flow”? Flow is the state you enter when you are so engrossed in whatever you are doing that time flies by. It makes you feel good and can help you relax. Some of the non-beauty things that I do to achieve flow are drawing comics, working on my bullet journal, organizing things (like my closet or kitchen drawers), writing, and planning projects. Flow can be a really hard thing to find when you are very anxious, or very depressed, and can’t motivate yourself to do anything. Very simple tasks to achieve flow are my go-to in these cases: designing houses on Sims, for example.
So, as a skincare and makeup enthusiast, some of the things I enjoy most to take care of myself are beauty-related. Some of these are easy, and some of them are harder when you’re really deep in it, so it depends on how you’re feeling what you should undertake. My beauty self-care tasks include:
- Organizing my Glamour Cave. This is one of my favorite things to do: it gives me a small task to work on (not like organizing a closet or whole room) that I can see immediate results from. I get to go through and look at all my pretty things, and identify products I need to review or that I want to experiment more with. When I’m done it’s so nice and tidy and beautiful that it makes me feel a little better, and it’s a place in the house I can go if the rest of the house is messy and stressing me out. Don’t have a Glamour Cave (they’re rare) or a vanity? Find a little place to organize your stuff better–on a bookshelf, in a dresser drawer. You can find organizing items at the dollar store or even just cut the lids off boxes to use for drawer organizers.
- Doing my nails. This takes me a little over an hour and is something I can do while I watch TV or listen to podcasts. It’s a great sense of accomplishment when I’m done, and my technique is pretty involved but it works to keep my nails looking fresh with no chips for about a week to ten days! It’s also quite meditative. I put my nail stuff in a little basket and bring it into the TV room with me. Here is what I do:
- Step 1: Remove nail polish. I put a lot of coats on so this takes a little soaking to get everything off. I have some of those finger clips to keep the cotton pad with acetone on for a couple of minutes to make it easy to remove.
- Step 2: File tips of nails to be smooth and even.
- Step 3: Use Sally Hansen cuticle remover and push down cuticles. Wipe off with alcohol prep pads (you can get these for cheap on Amazon or at Walgreens).
- Step 4: Use side 2 and 3 of a 4-sided buffer (buff, and smooth). This leaves the nails smooth but not “shiny” so there’s a little grip to it to hang on to the polish. Wipe nails again with alcohol pads to remove any buffing dust.
- Step 5: Rubberized base coat (Essie and China Glaze make good ones). This helps the polish adhere to the nails. After brushing it on, wait about 10 minutes to dry.
- Step 6: Thin coat of color polish. My favorite brands are OPI, Essie, and Trust Fund Beauty (#1 Favorite). Wait about 10 minutes for it to dry.
- Step 7: Second thin coat of color polish. I do an accent nail on each ring finger with glitter, usually, so this is where I would be applying the glitter. Great glitter polish tip: Take a cheap beauty blender knockoff sponge (they’re like $1 on the Wish app), and dab several large drops of glitter polish onto the sponge. The liquid soaks into the sponge so you can dab the glitter onto your nails and it will be opaque. You can use a sponge like this for several uses before you throw it out, you can even cut it into small pieces and use it that way. Wait again about 10 minutes for it to dry.
- Step 8: Seche Vite top coat. It makes everything dry quickly, and adds a strong, shiny top coat. This stuff is AMAZING. $9.99 on Ulta. Wait another 10 minutes or so.
- Step 9: Matte top coat. I like doing my nails matte with one glitter nail. 😀
- Sit and watch your TV show for another 1/2 hour or so before you start doing stuff. Seche Vite doesn’t entirely dry the coats underneath so you still have to wait a little while.
- Admire your glamorous nails and bask in the accomplishment!
- Skin Care: When I really want to take care of myself, I’ll do a multi-step treatment (like either a clay mask or acidic peel) and then a sheet mask, then the rest of my skin care (essence/serum/moisturizer). I feel good afterward and look glowy AF.
- Swatching palettes and taking photos for Insta.
- Creating new eye looks using Pinterest color palettes, or deciding on a theme (like: Mermaid look! All Urban Decay Products! Everything holographic! Only Boxycharm stuff! Etc…)
- Finding dupes in my collection for hot new palettes or products. This is something I can do systematically and get in the “flow”, it also discourages me from anxiety-shopping, which is a problem for me.
- Shaping my brows or epilating my legs. I’ll be honest, epilating my legs hurts BAD but I think the adrenaline that is produced helps me feel better.
- Watch a tutorial and try a new technique that I haven’t mastered.
- Practice styling or braiding my hair.
- Color my hair: Since I’m a grown ass woman whose work is in a conservative industry, I can’t do the beautiful rainbow colors I want to, but I can change it up a bit and it makes me feel great when I’m done.
EMERGENCY RESPONSE! These tasks are good when you are too wired up and anxious to focus, or too despondent to do anything.
- If you haven’t been able to shower, at least brush your teeth and clean your face with micellar water. Then put on some lipstick. Having at least my lips done makes me feel a lot better.
- Put lotion on your skin, or at least cream on your hands and feet. Cuticle cream on cuticles.
- Go through your perfumes or lotions and smell them. Nice-smelling things really boost me.
- Look at Pinterest for color palette ideas. Pinterest is a good thing for me because it is not saturated with politics and social injustice as the rest of my social media feeds are. It’s just simple fun.
- If you can swing it, take a shower or bath, use your best smelling products, and do a hair mask. Then get in your PJ’s, shake out your sheets, and snuggle up with your dog, cat, or honey. In my opinion, having a dog or cat is very important for those of us who have mental health issues because they contribute snuggles and being really cute, and they force you to do at least 1-2 productive things each day (feeding them and taking them outside). If you are able to afford it and are allowed to have one in your home or apartment, I highly recommend it.
I hope these ideas are helpful to you, and if you also struggle with depression and anxiety, I send you all my hugs. Make sure you are getting rest, reaching out for social support if you can, taking your meds and going to therapy. If you’re doing all these things and still feel like shit, try some of these self-care tasks.
All my love, darlings!