How we see the world shapes who we choose to be — and sharing compelling experiences can frame the way we treat each other, for the better. This is a powerful perspective.

Every month, I have part of a Saturday blocked off on my calendar with an event called, “I made it another month!”

I spend the day doing something that either brings me joy or relaxation as a way to celebrate the fact that I managed my depression and anxiety symptoms all month long.

I started this self-care tradition about six months ago after battling intense depression and anxiety for almost two years.

It’s become a way for me to reward myself for pushing through the bad days when getting out of bed seems impossible, for managing my anxiety with various techniques, for taking my antidepressants every day, and for fighting against the suicidal thoughts that plague my mind at least once a week.

I look forward to spending part of a day by myself doing something that makes me happy and calm.

Because as much as things like meditation, yoga, and body scans help my mood, I still consider them to be “chores,” or something I have to do to manage my mental illness on a daily basis.

After my splurge activity, I spend a little time journaling as I reflect on the activity I chose and how it made me feel.

I’ll go back to these notes when I’m feeling my lowest. They serve as reminders that I still can find joy in life, and that there are things that make life worth living.

Here’s my list of favorite activities:

  • get a manicure or pedicure
  • eat a meal at a new restaurant
  • see a movie or comedy show
  • get a blowout
  • get a massage or facial
  • take a day trip to a new place
  • spend the day with my brother in San Diego
  • cook something new
  • sit on my patio with a good book and a nice glass of wine
  • spend the day by the ocean

I know that most of these activities cost money, but I love the idea of spending my hard-earned money on myself.

I work hard to stay mentally healthy all month long and having this incentive keeps me motivated and focused on my goal. But you can easily choose low-cost activities as well.

Here are some free or cheap ideas:

  • go to an adoption fair and play with cats or dogs
  • pamper yourself at home with a bubble bath, manicure, and face mask
  • head to a local park with your favorite book
  • go for a long walk or hike
  • spend the morning walking around a local farmers market
  • attend a free yoga class (most yoga studios offer free introductory classes)
  • spend the day eating popcorn and watching your favorite movies

While I usually enjoy doing these activities by myself, you can easily do them with a friend.

Maybe you want to spend the day with someone who’s been by your side through the ups and downs, or with someone you haven’t seen in a while. Dealing with mental illness can be isolating, so having a day blocked off where you spend time with someone you care about can help you feel less alone.

No matter how you choose to spend your day, be proud of the fact that you fought hard all month long.

You deserve to recognize your daily efforts to manage your mental health and reward yourself for them.

Living with anxiety and depression takes its toll on both your mind and body, but having regular, joyful days like this reminds you that the fight is worth it.


Allyson Byers is a freelance writer and editor based in Los Angeles who loves writing about anything health-related. You can see more of her work at www.allysonbyers.com and follow her on social media.