When people are depressed, they often struggle with basic self-care, like brushing their teeth and feeding themselves. If you’re so depressed, this is a problem, here are some practical strategies.
- Always think in terms of good, better, and best. For example, flossing and brushing your teeth is best, but if rinsing your mouth with toothpaste is all you can manage, then call that good.
- Paper plates and or dollar store foil baking dishes. If you can manage to cook but not do as many dishes, then consider using paper plates and foil baking dishes you don’t need to clean.
- Chewable or dissolving vitamins if swallowing big ones feel hard.
- A pill container that tells you the last time it was opened.
- Using a 10- or 15-minute timer to determine how long you spend tidying up your house. Work to the timer rather than attempt to get everything done.
- Using ride share to get somewhere if the thought of parking or walking is too much.
- Drive-through, curbside pickup, or delivery to get your medications or do banking. If your current pharmacy doesn’t offer this, then consider switching where your prescriptions go.
- Frozen mango chunks or similar, rather than fresh fruit. Defrost in your microwave. Buying, storing, and peeling fresh fruit can feel like too much pressure and organization (to eat the fruit before it goes bad) when you’re depressed.
- A toaster oven. Using a toaster oven can be a lot less intimidating than turning on your full-size oven. You can line the tray with foil to reduce clean-up. This can allow you to cook a small portion of food more quickly, so you don’t have to deal with packaging and refrigerating leftovers.
- Electrolyte powders. Dump the powder in a single-use water bottle. Use for the purpose of drinking more water if plain water is difficult for you.
- Batch cooking spaghetti or something similar that you can heat and eat right away, to give you the energy to cook the rest of your meal.
- Power bricks if charging your phone is sometimes too much effort or organization.
- Putting two fitted sheets on your bed when you have the energy to do it. When you next wash the sheets, take the top one off to wash and leave the bottom one on. You only need the energy to do laundry, not remake the bed, too.
- Extras and spares to reduce the stress of losing and finding items.
- Freezing extra portions in ice cube trays. Example: If you open a jar of pasta sauce but know that the unused portion will go moldy in your fridge because you don’t have the energy to clean out your fridge, then freeze the rest in ice cube trays. Or, throw the other half of the jar in the freezer, as is.
- Baby wipes and paper towels for cleaning yourself, your kitchen and bathroom, and so on.
- Keep items in your car. You might spontaneously have the energy to use them (like your sneakers) or deal with them (an item you need to return).
- Using AI to help with planning, deciding, and communicating. For example, to decide on things to do, even within your own city, you can try roamaround (no affiliation).
- You have to be careful using these strategies as convenience habits can be easy to form and hard to break. And, yes, some of these aren’t the best for the environment. However, if you need to use the strategies because of depression, then consider them. Gauge if they seem to help you or not; use your own judgment about whether they do.
- Behavioral activation is key to managing your mood. This means behaving in ways that produce either pleasure or a sense of accomplishment, even if the strength of those feelings is muted by your depression. Use these strategies to help facilitate that, and for harm-minimization (such as using rideshare stops you from bailing on a friend date).
- If you haven’t experienced depression or worked with depressed people, you might lack an understanding of how depression affects people and be judgmental about the tips from this post. Struggling with very basic self-care is typical when people are depressed. These strategies are mostly intended to be temporary stopgaps when someone is clinically depressed.
- These tips also apply to post-partum depression and the post-partum period generally when birthing parents sometimes struggle with self-care.