Momentum: Self-Care is Self-Kindness
The act of looking after oneself has been dubbed as self-care and it plays an incredibly important role in maintaining physical, mental, and emotional health. Self care can range from going to the spa to unwind after a long day or simply eating dinner. In other words, self-care is care provided to you by you.
However, those living with depression often find self-care difficult and even impossible to attain. Research believes that since depression interferes with the frontal lobes--the areas responsible for executive reasoning--those struggling with the disease will also struggle with even the most basic tasks of self-care. Depression also drains their energy and willpower, often leaving them too exhausted to perform the basic necessities such as eating or bathing. This physical discomfort then feeds into the negative mental state which further exacerbates the depressive cycle.
Self-care is critical to co-existing peacefully with depression and chronic illnesses such as depression do require the patient to make some lifestyle changes. Self-care does not work as a cure for depression but more as a way to manage depression so that one does not spiral into a deep depressive cycle. By alleviating physical discomforts, one can take proactive precautions rather than reactive countermeasures.
The target audience for this service are those who are struggling with depression and are looking into using self-care as a way to manage depression. This is not a substitute for professional medical care and does not aim to cure depression or for those are stuck in a deep depressive cycle. In those cases, a medical professional or intervention is recommended.
What I've Been Doing
In the past week, I have been refining the language I am using to speak about this concept and the audience that I am targeting. My current target audience is people who are exhibiting mild depressive tendencies and are looking into self-care as a way to manage their symptoms.
I am purposefully not defining my user base as those diagnosed with depression because I don't want to exclude people who have never gone to the doctor with this issue and to protect my users from outside negative influences. Even though we have made leaps and bounds in terms of progress, we are not still quite there yet and so there is still quite a bit of taboo and stigma surrounding mental illness.
The other thing I was able to really consolidate is that I want to define self-care as care that is provided to you by you and so I want the focus of this service to be you and not the outside supportive network. From my research I can see that while social support is important, it can be fickle and the source of a lot of fear for many people. Therefore, I want to build this service centered around the care you can provide to yourself when that supportive network is not available.
I have also been ideating and user testing my paper prototype. I've been getting good feedback and it's shifting the way I am approaching this concept. For example, one of my users pointed out that if someone was in a mild depressive state, would setting a routine truly help them? Would they be stuck deep enough to need a routine? If they do then are they considered to be a severe case as opposed to my targeted audience.
I am also trying to get in contact with a therapist to find out more about therapy techniques that I can maybe then incorporate into my app.