If you’ve ever been depressed, you’re likely all too familiar with depression’s powerful ability to kill any and all energy and motivation.
One of the key signs of depression is when we stop taking care of day-to-day chores, like cleaning our house. Depression leaves you feeling so down and tired that you just let things go. Unfortunately, a messy house only adds to those feelings of depression—creating a destructive cycle that feeds on itself.
Once the mess gets too large and chaotic, people with depression can't even imagine how to begin tackling their household duties. They feel hopeless and helpless against the clutter and dirt, which reinforces depression.
Studies show that performing at least 20-minutes of daily physical activity, including domestic housework, benefits mental health and lowers the risks of psychological problems.
Don’t let depression force you to live in a messy house. Here are some ways to cope:
Break it up. Create a schedule so you're only cleaning one or two rooms every day vs. having to clean an entire house, which can seem like an enormous and overwhelming task.
Clean as you go. Sometimes, keeping your house clean is as simple as not cluttering it up in the first place. Wash your dishes right after using them, rather than letting them sit in the sink, and store your tools once you're finished with a project, for example. By putting things away right after you've used them, you can prevent clutter from occurring—or from getting even worse.
Don't procrastinate. When you have depression, it's easy to shrug chores off and say you'll do them later; fight that urge and live in the present. If you take care of things now, it will cut down on the time and effort needed to clean up after the fact. Wiping up a spill right after it occurs is a lot easier than scrubbing a hardened, crusty stain once it's dried. Depression might make you feel sad or sluggish, but taking care of these little tasks can offer you a sense of accomplishment and pride.
Store your cleaning supplies wisely. Not being able to find the necessary cleaning products gives you a chance to throw up your hands and say, "Never mind." Don't become frustrated; just make sure that you have what you need close at hand. Keep bathroom cleaners in the bathroom and kitchen cleaners in the kitchen. If you have hardwood floors on the first-floor and carpet on the second-floor, store your vacuum cleaner upstairs for easy access.
Pay attention to busy areas. If you're feeling particularly tired or depressed, focus on cleaning the rooms where your family spends most of their time. Vacuum well-traveled hallways or clean up clutter in the kitchen and living room. Spend your energy where it will do the most good.
Include your family. Give your family members specific housekeeping tasks to complete. Be sure to let them know that by helping with the housework, they are also helping you cope with your depression.
Keep in mind that things may not be as bad as you think. You don’t have to resign yourself to a messy house while you deal with depression. By getting your home in order, you will also rid yourself of a source of stress and feel a lot stronger and healthier in the process.
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