Patient Blogs | Depression
How I Clean During a Depressive Episode
photo of young woman making bed

There’s a reason the term “depression room” is popular. When you’re struggling with depression it seems impossible to take care of yourself or your environment. It’s difficult to keep your home clean when it’s a struggle to get out of bed. There’s not much energy to do anything else.

Living in a messy and cluttered space only makes your depression worse. It’s hard to motivate yourself to get up and be productive when your living area is full of unneeded items that take up space. 

When your living space is clean, it helps ease stress and clear your mind.The clutter in your room is affecting you whether you realize it or not. This happens to me, and I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders when I declutter my space. It’s a weight I’m not even fully aware of until it’s gone. 

Make cleaning as “fun” as you can. I’m not one who loves cleaning. However, I do try to make it more enjoyable since it’s a necessary part of life. I like to either listen to music, a podcast, or talk to a friend on the phone while I’m cleaning. Listening to a funny or intriguing podcast takes my mind off how much cleaning I’m doing. I also open my windows when I’m cleaning if the weather is nice. This way I’m getting fresh air while moving around my house cleaning. 

Set a cleaning timer. Whatever amount of time you can fit into your schedule and think is a reasonable amount of time to clean, set a timer for it. Cleaning your whole home can seem overwhelming. However, setting a 20-minute timer to clean is more reasonable. Cleaning for those 20 minutes is better than not cleaning at all. Plus, if you set a timer, you’re less likely to be on your phone because you’re on a time limit. 

Start with the simplest tasks.Make your bed. Even if you plan on getting back into it after cleaning -- it sets the stage for the rest of your cleaning. Now you have a flat surface to set things on if need be. Take out all the trash in your room. Just grab a bag and go around your room collecting anything that can be thrown away. Any dirty dishes/cups in your room, bring them into your kitchen. Lastly, pick up any clothes off your floor. After doing these simple but impactful tasks, your room should already feel cleaner. 

Focus on the most essential tasks. Don’t have any clean clothes left? Throw in a load of laundry when you first start cleaning. That way it can be washed while you’re cleaning other things. Do your dishes. At least get enough in the dishwasher to run it. If your dishwasher is clean, just unload it and get it loaded up with dirty dishes. This will help with any clutter your kitchen has been feeling. Again, go through and throw any trash away. Set it by the door and tell yourself you’ll take it out after finishing the other tasks. 

Know that you DESERVE to live in a clean home. Read that sentence again. You deserve to live in a clean space, so give that to yourself. If you look at your living conditions and think “I wouldn’t want my best friend to live in an environment like this,” then you shouldn’t either. I know it’s difficult to get up and clean, but it’s essential for your mental health. So get up and set yourself a cleaning timer and know that I’m rooting for you.  


Connect with other people who are living with depression by joining our Depression Facebook Support Group.



Photo Credit: Eric Audras / ONOKY via Getty Images

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Katharine Hartleb

Katharine Hartleb

Diagnosed since 2014

Katharine Hartleb was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 2014, at age 16. She has a passion for helping others and plans on becoming a mental health counselor. Hartleb lives in Charleston, SC, and is a recovery coach at a substance use disorder facility. She is also a young adult presenter for NAMI, sharing her personal story. Connect with her through her personal Instagram and her kat4kindness Instagram.

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