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Readers Respond: Cleaning Tips for the Depressed

Responses: 85


Updated January 27, 2012

Even for especially profound depression

there are ways to get out of bed and stay out. Building momentum is key. Sometimes I am so fixated on the pain of depression that I lose concentration. So I have step by step lists for various tasks such as daily hygiene, weekly laundry, I've built a small collection of these. When I have difficulty focusing on a task, I don't have to get discouraged and have an attitude and go back to bed. I can still rely on routine by falling back on a step by step list of steps and benefit from the distraction and momentum from doing things. Keeping going is key, you do have to choose to resist lying around ruminating and just get up out of bed and stay out without thinking a lot about that decision. It's made. You are getting up...
—Guest ESP


I spend three hours one week helping a friend clean, cook, whatever she needs. She does all the planning, gets supplies, etc. I just provide two helping hands. The following week we do the same at my house and I pick the project, plan, provide what is needed. I'm exausted afterwards, but it's amazing that two working together produces much more than two individuals could produce, plus it's fun to work with someone. I have never been depressed before and identify with the symptoms all of you shared. The suggestions are great, thank you all for being so open and honest about your feelings. One thing about depression it really slows you down so you can take an honest look at the issues in your life and prayer for healing, strength and comfort.
—Guest Hope

Growing old with RA

Preparing the mind for physical activity really helps. Athletes do it before a challenge , going through the motions for example seeing themselves doing that pole jump up and over with ease. Just imagine walking to your kitchen, filling the kettle, setting out cup and saucer , then the steaming drink and now settling down to enjoy some music, TV or a favorite magazine, Well done, you have earned it
—Guest dottipitt

My Latest Trick

My latest trick I learned was to write 2 lists, 1 for what you want to do and 1 for what you have to do and alternate between the two so you are not always working and not always doing pleasurable things but finding a balance between both...I have found that helps. I'm doing some D.I.Y in the bathroom at the moment and yes I have procrastinated but I got my old loo seat taken off and I fitted my new one on. I felt a great level of satisfaction! then relaxed :)

I keep sharing tips to avoid chores! LOL

One final idea - I (briefly) think of people who may need some of the stuff I have. Briefly, because don't want to feed the Depr Beast! Grab a trash bag & start putting stuff in there. Having newspaper handy is helpful in case you need to wrap fragile stuff. Have gotten some MAJOR de-cluttering done this way, when I keep thinking - "Could this be helpful to someone? and Someone may need this." There's a Gdwill drop-off near, so it fels GREAT to take the bag(s) to them when I'm done! (Timer DOES help!) Again - thanks to everyone who's posted!
—Guest marion

"If it's worth doing ...

... it's worth doing well." Sound familiar? Um, not so much, esp since for me "well" = perfect! Just realizing that adage is adding to my 'chores' helps me. "I've done it. Good for me!" (Because so far, no applause from cats/dog!!)
—Guest marion

"You did a good job!"

For a long time, I did the "YES ... BUT ..." to myself after any cleaning I did. ("Yes, you washed the dishes, but look at the floor! Yes, you mopped the floor, but look at those dusty shelves!") Needless to say, not helpful! Now, I'm in the process of sayng to myself, "YOU DID A GOOD/GREAT JOB!" - sometimes out loud. As we know, dealing with depr is enough of a 'chore' - so any addtl household chore we get done IS good/great!
—Guest mmarion

10-60 minutes!

I always put a timer on for myself. I think realistically how I am feeling and what I believe I can manage and put the alarm on for between 10 minutes and even once for a whole 60 minutes and I put a CD on or the radio,on loud,and just start. I go in the kitchen for a bit,then the bathroom,or stay in the kitchen-whatever,I am flexible with myself and I find that flexibility in time and cleaning areas really helps. The other day it took 15 minutes to collect all the rubbish and put it out. I break it down into manageable segments as well. 10 minutes here,do something else,and then 10 minutes elsewhere. And then some days I will let myself do nothing,but others I need to push myself through it. But it works :)

not walking alone

Prayer and saying "I'll wash these dishes for you God" or "I'll clean this house for you God" has helped me so much. God has helped me, with no medication
—Guest leslieah

help to clean

I can totally relate. I tend to let things go to the point that I have NO motivation to do anything! Although I did not want to spend the money, I sacrificed some other pleasures and hired a "professional organizer" for $28/hr. Although she does not clean, she helped me tackle ALL the clutter. I must say it was money WELL SPENT!! It then allowed me to feel more motivated. Even through fighting depression, it gave me more hope. I then started to WANT to clean up more because I saw a "light at the end of the tunnel". Maybe a friend can even help you if the financial part is too deep. Just say to yourself--"DO IT". Good luck, I bet you can!

off depression meds

I've been depressed for decades. Finally saw the doctor and went on meds. The meds helped, but I didn't like the idea of being on them the rest of my life. It's been 2 years since I stopped taking them and here is what helped. I went to the library and read just about every self help books. Not the ones that talk about depression (already know that), but the ones on being happy. I started to take care of myself - sleeping 8 hrs, eating better, getting out in the sun and exercise. I break down big chores (like cleaning) into smaller ones. I make a to do list every day. I force myself to stick to a schedule otherwise things back up (like cleaning and laundry) and I can feel myself spiral down. If I feel myself spiraling down, I read another self help book. I allow time for myself. I also created music cds for different emotions - ones to motivate, and others that are high energy that help me get work done. Most importantly I try not to overthink or dwell - I try to just do!
—Guest rachel

This works for me

My place used to be really, really bad with tons of clutter and trash. Instead of telling myself I have a lot to clean or I will spend 10 minutes cleaning. I told myself I will throw away just five trash items away then stop. Then I would stop until the next day. Next day came, I threw away just five more trash items until I got all three trash bags full, then I threw them out. When it was time for me to wash my dishes which had mold covering them, I told myself, I am gonna wash two dishes a day then stop. Next day same thing. Well it took 10 months before my place was clean. Now that my place is clean, I throw trash away right away. I wash my dishes as soon as I am done. I wipe my shower down as soon as I am out of the shower. Once a day I wipe my toliet down, and wipe off my sink. My place is clean and staying clean. I feel so great now. If you are having trouble start out like I did.
—Guest Princess

cleaning tips

I do much cause all my medications slow me down but i do dishes ,landry, i have one room that really needs to be done because i'm a hoard but open the door and shut it I want it soppuse to my craft room i'm very unorganized which things worst.

Read this thread!

I can't believe it! I started going through this thread while I was tired and crying in bed...then I sat up, picked up the edge of the duvet and neatened the bed...4 hours later, I've done the laundry, vacuumed the living room and kitchen, done the dishes, completed a job application, had a bite to eat, tidied up all the mail, put the rubbish bin and recycling bin out and I'm sitting in the doctor's office as I type. It's unbelievable...thank you all for your tips...it helps when someone else REALLY understands what you're going through. My husband doesn't and is not speaking to me now because he thinks I'm wallowing...self indulgent...inconsiderate...lazy... So my tip is, read through the comments. And turn on every tv or radio in the house...for some reason that helped as well.
—Guest Titan

Have a friend help

There have been times over the past 10 years that I just couldn't get past the "overwhelm" phase. I have a small network of understand friends or friends with similar issues and it is incredible what 2 can do vs. me alone with my depression. I have to do this once a month to keep up as sometimes a shower, dishes, laundry, preparing food, shopping are just impossible.
—Guest Karen

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Cleaning Tips for the Depressed

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