There’s nothing worse than hearing, “Well, if you just…” whenever you try to speak to someone about your depression or anxiety. Trust me, we all know that if we just did this or that, we’d look and seem normal. Here’s the thing: we want to just. We aren’t choosing to live a life full of self-doubt and terror-stricken reactions.

Still, in all my struggles, I’ve found that one thing is true. If I JUST tell myself daily that self-care is my top priority that day, I can make it through. It doesn’t matter what I accomplish. I turn my days into bite-sized hours and make sure I spend ten minutes per hour practicing self-care. This comes in many different forms. We aren’t talking about getting nails done or going to a salon. No, this is taking a shower, picking up a dish from my side table in the bedroom, reading a book, or simply allowing myself to feel my emotions and giving myself grace. These are my self-care moments. Do they magically solve my mental health issues? Absolutely not. Do they help me get from dawn to dusk? Yes.

The truth is that these small moments of self-care are intrinsically linked to my self-worth. Many people don’t think twice about taking a shower every day, but when I manage one, I’m giving myself a high five. Most people automatically get the dishes into the sink, but I celebrate each one, not only because I’m keeping my house clean, but because that dish represents a meal I remembered to eat.

To those of you who don’t suffer from depression or anxiety, this blog probably sounds a little strange, but for those of you who do, I know you know what I’m talking about. Maybe you and I struggle with different things, but the result is the same. We have to actively choose and work hard on accomplishing the things so many people take for granted.

For instance, I spent four years unable to check my email. Four whole years of a full-blown panic attack anytime someone said they’d email me the information. I’d beg them to send it to my husband instead. What was I hiding from? The insane amount of spam that hits my inbox. There were simply too many emails waiting (over 140,000) that my mind couldn’t bring myself to click the mail icon. I finally explained it to a friend, and she showed me how to mark them all “read” in less than thirty seconds. Now, part of my self-care is opening my email and marking them as read.

The bottom line is we all have our own issues and sometimes illogical reactions, but I’ll make you a deal. You make your version of self-care your top priority, and I’ll continue to do the same. We will never meet, we will never know each other’s names, but we will both put ourselves and our self-worth one step further every hour. You’ve got this, and I do, too.