When you’re depressed, the thought of cleaning your house leaves a lot to be desired. Before you even start on the dishes and laundry, you may already feel overwhelmed. Dishes fill the sink and counters. Laundry piles up. And you end up feeling worse than before. Don’t worry, there are things you can do!
Depression Makes Everything Feels Like a Chore – Especially Chores!
For those who have depression, it can be an everyday struggle to get up the energy and motivation to complete tasks that usually only take a few minutes. As your tasks start to pile up, you feel overwhelmed, angry at yourself, and upset. You start to ask yourself “Why can’t I get it together?!?”
How Depression Hijacks Your Plans
- Depression can distort our sense of how long it really takes to complete tasks.
- Depression tricks us into thinking that a task like unloading the dishwasher will take forever, so we don’t do it.
- Depression causes us to get more easily overwhelmed. We put it off until the sink is full of dishes and then we become overwhelmed.
- Depression can cause negativity to build on itself. Every time we pass that sink full of dirty dishes, we are reminded about how ineffective we are at taking care of business, which then increases our depression.
As you become more depressed, your motivation decreases. You may have feelings of worthlessness, guilt, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and maybe even some health issues, such as body aches or headaches. All of this makes the task even harder. It becomes a vicious cycle.
So, how do you stop this cycle?
Don’t Let Depression Stop You!
Breaking your tasks down into more manageable tasks is a great way to start! The first step is identifying a task that needs to be done. For example, unloading the dishwasher. Here’s how to break down unloading the dishwasher so that it is not so overwhelming.
Steps to Getting Stuff Done When You’re Depressed
- Identify a specific time to unload it. For example, if you watch “The Price is Right” every morning, finish watching your show and then start unloading!
- Think about what would help you stay on task. Does listening to music help? Setting a timer? Use what works!
- Note the time before you start.
- Break it down into small steps. Perhaps you start with unloading the top rack. If that felt like a lot, take a few minutes to regroup before the next step.
- Next small step. Unload the bottom rack
- Look at the time. Reflect if it took less time than you thought it would take (it did, didn’t it?).
- Take a minute to congratulate yourself for completing that task!
- Once you realize unloading the dishwasher took less time than you thought, start to think about the next task – loading the dishwasher! Following the same idea of breaking down the task, try loading the dishwasher and see how that goes.
Change the Cycle!
Now that you know how to break down tasks, think about what other tasks you need to tackle. Try writing out a list of tasks you need to work on, for example, sorting laundry, cleaning the bathroom, paying bills, etc. Once you have that list, identify a specific time and day you are going to do it, and break those tasks down so they aren’t so overwhelming. Once you start to get in the mindset of tasks not taking as long as you think, you’ll be able to tackle them with more ease. Cross those tasks off your list one-by-one, and have more time for self-care!
Things harder than they need to be?
It is more common than you’d think for people to consult with a therapist for things like tackling chores when depressed. Reach out! There is therapy for depression – and its effective.