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Readers Respond: Cleaning Tips for the Depressed

Responses: 85


Updated January 27, 2012

When we feel depressed it becomes very hard to keep up with our daily chores like laundry and washing dishes. We're just too tired and unmotivated to really care. Unfortunately, having a dirty living environment does nothing to make us feel better about our situation. But, how do you overcome those bad feelings and get some work done?

In my own case, some of the best cleaning tips I've found are to keep up with things as I go rather than allowing them to pile up. I also like to break things down into manageable chunks instead of tackling the whole job at once.

Do you have any tips for getting a handle on household tasks when even getting yourself out of bed feels like a chore?

Share Your Tips

Favorite time of day

I really enjoy the morning times, I noticed my depression is so much higher if I sleep through the sunrise hours. I recently got my act together and am now in the habit of cleaning after I wake up. I never feel depressed in the early morning. Feeling tired and doing dishes with warm water is always nice too! I wake up clean up myself, then I do all the dishes in the sink before making myself breakfast. I look forward to my mornings now. Getting into this habit has made it much easier to do other things throughout the day too. I now naturally wake up by 8 am :) I still have depression, I even cried tonight... But I always try my best to find a way to express my pain, sadness, shame whatever play some guitar, sing about what is bothering me... And do my best to move on, one day at a time is the best way for me. I have kept my house clean for almost a month even though this is a depressing time of year... With my birthday approaching and all...
—Guest chantel


I have been suffering from depression for years. Sometimes I get out of bed to get kids ready for school, then just get back into bed when they gone. I lounge around in my pajamas all day. This site is really helpful
—Guest Rinelma

Little Steps

3 steps have helped me fix myself tremendously. First, clean your kitchen before bed. Start with 7 days of 'must clean kitchen before bed', MAKE yourself. I promise you will continue after 7. Next, do two loads of laundry a day, folded and put away, JUST TWO. Tackling too much, and too large will be exhausting and discourage you to want to do it again. By day 7, you will catch up your laundry. Next, after 1st load is thrown in the wash, set the oven timer for 15 minutes. Try to beat the clock - Pick up all the trash one room at a time, then basket all the clutter (i put a basket in every room for this)..then tackle one basket at a time. Make your bed as soon as you roll out of it! Naps and all! All beds if you have kids. Make it a new obsessive habit!! Try this for 7 days..one week with a cleaner house, and your mind will be cleaner. You can start finding time and energy for vacuuming, bathrooms, etc after that. It won't feel like such a mountain.
—Guest Sarah

Some good ideas here, I hope I can use.

I suffer from depression. 3 years ago I was forced to move into a rental and sell my home. 3 years later I am not unpacked. I just stand and look and have trouble starting on anything. Now my home if filthy and you just wake over stuff. I'm not a hoarder but have never lived like this. There ae some good ideas here and I hope I might be able to try a few. I have no family to help and totally embarassed to ask any friend in to see the way I live. Meds do not help me at all. Thanks for some good ideas. Making the list might help if I don't get discouraged by its length.


I cant bring myself to clan my room here at the :y", or bathe frequently.
—Guest cleanannie

this so good for me

I really thought I was the only one who looked at getting out of bed and showering as a job to do and sometimes it's too difficult for me to do. Just knowing I'm not just lazy (as most people think and just do not understand) . I do try to make an accomplishment list at night...and I include things like brushing my teeth and fixing my hair..getting showered and dressed. Picking up the papers off the floor, just doing something anything besides sleeping my life away! Thank you, thank you so much!
—Guest dee the depressed

depressed and cleaning

BI really enjoyed your article on handling cleaning with depression.I to suffer with bi-poplar and '-I'm .disabled from work with a back injury.Most days I don't want to get out of bed and when I do the thought of cleaning my studio apt unbearable!I do it in small increments and evently things do get done just that things like washing the dishs and the other daily chores there is never time for the major chores I wish to get done.Reading your situation and realizing its not just me gives me hope!thank you
—Guest bobby


Well, i'm not a doctor, psilscogiot or anything like that, but i guess i can have some ideas, that i hope can be helpful, i am trying to do those my self.First you have to find out the real problem with your situation, most of the times there are hidden not so hidden- reasons for the sadness. Maybe you have some goal you haven't achieved, and unconciously, or even conciously, you have given up. This could be things as trivial or as dificult as this examples: find a life partner, make some specialized studies, make some volunteer work. If you find out one of those reasons, you have to start making the TO DO list. You have to plan how to get it, wich steps you need to do to achieve it, and start doing it, according to your stablished plan. There are situations where you migth not have an strict plan, like finding a life partner that won't be acomplished by a plan, but you can do certain activities in order to get you close to the goal, meeting new people, joining a club of something you are interested in. If you really have nothing left not unresolved business, maybe you might only needs to find new objectives in your life, i think that when you get to some place you are fine, and you achieved some of the goals you had thougth before. And you have to keep close to the real friends, don't forget to do it, because if you let the depresion interfere with your relations, then you will be lost!There is this feeling of emptyness, and that's the moment to find new goals, so they are the impulse for the life, and that's how the human being keeps going.I've found that i need to make a master degree, or study something else, i am bored at my job, i feel i can do more. This have made me feel depressed to the point i don't really feel like taking care of my house, or sometimes, i don't feel like play with my son wich i enjoyed so much before. So at this moment i'm planning to do whatever it takes to start those studies before this year ends.Good luck to you, hope you find the way.
—Guest IrBCBXOLyezkKBhjz


I do not label it depression when it comes to a house cleaning. I label it too smart for the redundancy of cleaning the same cr*p over and over behind folks. Or if you prefer to call it : Not enough compensation or support. Or too much stuff, and not enough containers. Whatever it takes too make the list and cross off one day at a time. First..look at with a positive attitude. Buy something new everytime to decorate while you clean. Hey everyone likes a new jacket hooks, bookcase (a cheap put together), or storage bench. Gotta LOVE places like IKEA for little mood lights as well. Music is good as mentioned earlier. ME? ANYTHING WORKS THAT SETS THE BRAIN ON POSITIVE TRACKS. I had to change my diet as well. I know the cause of my negativity is my negative spouse, but I can not change that. I can only change me, and not put up with cr*p anymore. Then walk around the corner and smile baby smile. I do not drink or smoke so this is it: My depression or POSITIVIT
—Guest Tasha


Sometimes there is nothing to do exept to ask for help and wait to feel better. The guilt just makes you feel worse. When I am really depressed I just can not get up and moving, even if I have a lot of motivation, like a person with broken leg can not walk even if he wants to. There is a difference between being depressed for a reason and depression as an mental illness.
—Guest bpdbpd

A quick tip for getting motivated ....

Assess what job needs doing. Set a timer for 5 minutes and in that 5 minutes tidy or clean as fast as you possibly can and get as much done as physically possible. You will be surprised what the body can achieve when pushed to maximum capacity for 5 minutes. When I see how we'll I have done, it always motivates me into doing more!
—Guest Emz

Trying to keep on keeping on

Hi, all! It IS so good to hear that there are folks out there having the same problems in varying degrees. The first thing I learned that really helped me was Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. It helps you learn to learn how to recognize when you are having negative "automatic thoughts" and helps you to analyze them, trouble-shoot them, and recognize what triggered them. I leaned this as an in-patient in a behavioral health hospital dealing with another bout of depression and anxiety. I used the book, "Feeling Good" by Dr. David Burns. I've been depressed off and on my whole life, and this book when used consistently can keep The Black Dog away. It also has a great index in the back that helps you find out about many topics, such as " what to do about Do-Nothingism". It's a great resource when you are up late at night and are not able to sleep, it has a chapter about suicide prevention. After using this book, I regained a sense of control over my life and slowly gained confidence.
—Guest Elise

This works for me

I have two bowls and two sizes of cards. I write chores that need to be done, one per card. If it's a small job, I use a small card, and a larger card for a larger job. For example, brush my teeth is small; cat box (for me) is big. I put everything that needed attention in one bowl. Then, I choose small or large card according to what I feel like. When it's done, I put the card in the other bowl. It's nice to see the empty bowl getting filled. If something new needs attention, I write a new card. It's fun for me. I hope it helps someone else.
—Guest Elizabeth

Can't get out of bed...

The suggestions about doable list and music help. BUT how do you deal with those that expect YOU to do it all. How do you bring yourself to get out of bed to clean around them? Children follow examples, but what about these loving spouses we have. And, speaking of children, aren't us parents doing them an injustice in these situations? Yes, I've been diagnosed with depression. For those living alone, I think I can relate. However, for those of us the spouses who don't attempt to provide or learn what support they could easily give us, I'm being to feel being a single parent might be better. At least I feel I would have more control in that environment. What are your thoughts?
—Guest Renae

depression tips for cleaning

I am a handicapped lady and also 72 yrs.old I try to pick up clutter while commercials are on,it helps me

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Cleaning Tips for the Depressed

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