Cleaning when you’re depressed sucks.
Cleaning is always overwhelming when you do it once a week or once a month. Even more so when there’s a lot of things to put away and as a bonus, you have pets. On top of that, let’s throw a few depressive episodes… and we have ourselves a messy house that only increases the depression, self-loathe and takes much more energy than we can provide.
Yes, this is real and it happens to a lot of people. However, you can do small things at a time that won’t take a lot of energy and you’ll be able to break a vicious cycle. I finally figure out what can help to keep a house clean without breaking a sweat and with J’s help.
First things first, prioritize.
Declutter and clean the things that make you feel better when you see or feel them. In my case, clothes folded and clean counters are a must. I am grateful that J does the dishes because I am focusing on small tasks that will help me feel productive as well as avoid draining my energy levels.
Remember, you will need to pick 1 or 2 tasks at most. Don’t waste your precious energy. Write a list of things that you want to do or things that need to get done and pick 1 or 2 per day that will make you feel like a rock star when you’ve completed the task and see your progress!
Second, progress not perfection.
It’s okay to do a little at a time! You don’t have to complete ALL the tasks at once or even complete one. All you need to do is start, THAT is the hardest part. Once you get started, after 5 minutes if you still feel like you cannot do anything then you already made headway with 5 minutes into the task. Celebrate the small solid wins!
Remember, you’re doing a little at a time to avoid a chaotic mess that’ll make you feel worse later on.
Third but most important, create a schedule!
Do you remember the list that you did in our first step? Great! Now, you’ll use that list and divide it per day throughout the week. Be realistic about how much you will be able to do in a depressive episode and on a regular day. In my case, I scheduled what realistically I’d do in a regular day and removed some tasks depending on the mood. You can see this post as an example.
Last but not least, be kind to yourself.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s okay to feel like sh*t and to take some time to recover yourself from it. It’s okay to not complete 10 tasks a day but it’s important to try a task for 5 minutes before deciding you’re not up to complete it. Even if it’s the hardest thing you’ll do, avoid comparing yourself to others or to yourself on a regular day vs. you on a depressive day. Your body, mind, and energy levels are not the same as other people and you need to pace yourself to something that works for you.
To help with getting the cleaning mode: on, here are some tips that I’d advise you to try:
- Affirmations. Even if it’s a cliche thing to say, it does work… sometimes. Pick an affirmation of something you want to focus on. I’d look for an affirmation based on effort or intention, and write it down. Place it somewhere visible in the area you’re cleaning. This also helps you to push those negative intrusive thoughts away for a while.
- Set an alarm. You want to have a timer so you can clean for a specific amount of time (once you manage to go over the 5 minutes or even just for 5 minutes). This makes it easier to clean than to think about it into ALL the tasks that you need to accomplish. It has also help me to see how much energy I can invest into specific tasks within specific timeframes.
- Music! Always, always pick upbeat music that’ll help you to get into a better mood. It can be whatever motivates you and it may even give you the energy to accomplish more tasks.
- Celebrate any progress. Avoid focusing on what’s left to do and instead focus on what you’ve accomplished! This goes in hand with being kind to yourself, recognized that you’re doing something while you’re feeling down. This makes you a strong person!
- Lastly, whenever possible hire a cleaning person or a housekeeper. I cannot afford a housekeeper but I did hire a cleaning lady that comes in once a week to help. She does an entire sweep of the house. Even tasks that J and I did, she does it again so it’s like cleaning the house twice every week. It’s a lot easier to keep the house without clutter and clean that it helps me feel less annoyed at myself.
Anyway, even if you’re not struggling with depression we all have those blue days when nothing gets done because we never get up. Think of that feeling when you’re going through this list. I believe it’ll absolutely help with getting the slightest task completed by simply finding what works for you. You can also read this article that I found to get more helpful ideas.
Remember, it’s okay to feel bad and there’s nothing wrong to prioritize your health above anything else.
Let me know if you find this helpful and if you liked it, please share the love!