According to Everyday Health.com, one of the key signs of depression is when you suspend taking care of day-to-day chores, like cleaning your house.
Oh, Joy! Now I’m convinced I need Prozac. I suspended that activity back in May.
“Depression leaves you feeling so down and tired that you just let things go,” says Dennis Thompson in a piece I read today linking depression and a messy environment. Don’t I know it? I thought the picture tube on my television was going when I discovered it was only covered with dust!
It’s funny – when I was working full time, I kept a clean and orderly dwelling – at least compared to now. But now than I’m retired, I tell myself, I can do that later and I go back to my murder mystery and bag of Reese’s Pieces.
“Unfortunately, a messy house can add 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 imagine how to begin tackling the household duties. They feel hopeless and helpless against the clutter and dirt, which reinforces depression.”
How to Keep It Clean When You’re Depressed
A recent study found that performing at least 20 minutes of daily physical activity, including domestic housework, benefited mental health and lowered risks of psychological problems. Don’t let depression force you to live in a messy house and don’t let your messy house cause depression. Here are some ways Mr. Thompson offers to help you cope:
- 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, pick up old magazines and stash them in baskets (which may be shoved under the bed), when changing clothes, put them away immediately. (I just counted four pair of shoes in the hallway which is as far as I make it before kicking them off). By putting things away right after you’ve used them, you can prevent clutter from occurring in the first place — 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.
- Break it up. Devise 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 daunting task.
- 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, “Why bother?” Don’t become frustrated — make sure you have what you need close at hand. Keep bathroom cleaners in the bathroom and kitchen cleaners in the kitchen. If you’ve got hardwood floors on the first floor and carpeting 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 and friends spend most of their time.
- Rope your family in. Why should you have all the fun? Give family members specific housekeeping tasks to complete. Be sure to let them know that by helping with the housework, they are helping you cope with depression. I told Lucky Dawg and Rebel all this, but they went back to sleep.