47 Little Things You Can Do If Depression Is Keeping You Home Today
While most people don’t think twice about taking a sick day when they have a stomach bug or horrible cough, staying home with depression often comes with an extra layer — guilt. It’s too easy to beat yourself up for not being productive enough, which can feed the voice of depression that’s already working overtime.
But staying home doesn’t have to mean wasting time. It’s a chance to rejuvenate, to take care of yourself and to rest — all things that can give you more power to tackle depression in the future.
To find what people do when depression keeps them home, we asked people in our mental health community to share one thing they can do even when depression convinces them they can’t.
Here’s what they shared with us:
1. “Brush my teeth and change my clothes. Even if I’m not doing anything else that day, doing those two things makes me feel as if I did do something and the day wasn’t completely wasted. It sounds strange but it’s true.” — Cassandra R.
2. “I make sure I take my dog out, and give him his treats and play at least one round of ball or rope with him. It makes him happy, which in turn lifts my spirits. I’d be lost without him.” — Kimberly D.
3. “I try to do at least one thing in the house a day. Even if I feel like I absolutely cannot, I find being in a clean house, even when you’re depressed, is better than being in a messy house.” — Alissa E.
4. “Paint my nails. Small act of self care.” — Christina H.
5. “I would open all of our windows early in the morning, sit down in the porch and drink a hot cup of coffee… Simply peaceful.” — Isay B.
6. “I will actively tell myself ‘I am alive,’ even if I don’t feel alive, or perhaps don’t want to be. Hug my pillow, splash my face with cold water or pace my breathing. I will fiddle with blue tac or watch a classic Disney film, acknowledging I can get past this, as long as I look after myself in the process.” — Ceilidh M.
7. “I enjoy painting. Art therapy has really helped me manage my depression and anxiety and it’s become something I can get a sense of achievement and pride from. This helps boosts my self-esteem and makes me feel better about myself.” — Rob R.
8. “Work on my jigsaw puzzle.” — Roxanne B.
9. “I watch a lot of movies. No serious drama that might trigger more sadness and no over the top comedy that will irritate me because the jokes are not written for adults… I stick to action, sci-fi and fantasy. Even if I can’t get out of bed, I can get lost in a good story.” — Karen F.
10. “Put on some perfume that you like and hop out if bed and move somewhere else it could be the couch or any other chair.” — Chloe R.
11. “Make yourself something to eat that you enjoy. It gets you doing something, even if it’s just a bowl of cereal. And you’re getting some food in you, and you enjoy it (hopefully).” — Justine P.
12. “Sometimes depression gets so bad that I find it difficult to enjoy doing things that I usually love, but one thing that always helps me is sitting on the living room couch and talking to my pet. He’s a very lively and active hamster, and just watching him run happily around and climb and just be adorable helps me feel more peaceful and less empty.” — Alejandra F.
13. “I make a list of three things on my bad days and when I complete them I count it as a win against the depression.” — Patricia L.
14. “I open the curtains. Just letting some natural light in can help me realize that the world is still there and even though it feels like it’s crumbling, everything is still moving forward.” — Ashley M.
15. “Turn on the lights to make the room brighter even if I’m going to sleep all day.” — Jennifer B.
16. “I try and read a book, something to transport me away from the dark cloud that’s over me. It lets me go into someone else’s life, even if it’s just for a minute, just a small comfort to enjoy some happiness.” — Becky U..
17. “Text at least one person.” — Tanya H.
18. “Honestly? Listening to The Backstreet Boys helps a lot. Even on bad days, it makes me remember the importance of the little moments of joy like eating a chocolate bar, or petting my cat or the security of a duvet, can make things OK until the depression or anxiety passes.” — Claire Q.
19. “Breathe. It’s something our bodies do naturally and something I can control when my mind turns upside down and chaotic. Maybe I didn’t get out of bed or eat anything or take a shower, but I managed to breathe through it all and on hard days, that’s enough for me.” — Talia B.
20. “I play guitar.” — Claudiu S.
21. “I talk to my partner. I talk about the stuff I can’t explain — that I’m having a bad day and I don’t know why, that I feel blue and angry and mad and worthless and so stupid. That I wish I wasn’t me because I don’t even know what my trigger was today. He doesn’t say anything back. But just having that sounding board, knowing that all the thoughts that are dragging me down are in the open makes me feel less horrible. There’s not a lot of people I open up to because I feel judged and I’m so tired of hearing ‘get over it’ and having someone sympathize when they don’t really know. But I hope everyone has at least one… someone you can curl beside or just talk to.” — Nat N.
22. “I try and spend at least 10 minutes a day talking to someone else. Sometimes I struggle with that, because I just don’t want to be around others, or my anxiety goes into overload, but if I’m able to force myself to face those 10 minutes, then nine times out of 10, I come out of it feeling a little bit better as a result.” — Lydia A.
23. “Play video games. I can’t begin to tell you how much this game has helped me cope on tough days. I suffer from agoraphobia and the expansive world of Skyrim invites players to roam across its beautiful landscape and cities… I get to feel free even when my disorder is acting up very badly.” — Ea H.
24. “Sometimes I get up and stand on one leg. It’s a simple, almost silly thing but it can feel like the only thing I have control over when I’m severely depressed.” — Emily J.
25. “I keep a ‘love’ memory box with every love note, dead flowers and love letters/cards my partner has given me. Along with pictures and event tickets that we have been too. I go through it to remind myself of how much he loves me, and everything he has done for me. It helps me understand that there is someone out there who I mean the world to! Even though I know that already, battling depression can make you foggy and forget about how much someone loves you! Especially on those days when the depression hits you so hard, all you want to do is lay under the covers all day and wish you could just fall asleep for a really long time.” — Verónica L.
26. “Make dinner for my family. It may not seem like a big deal, but for my family it is. I was pretty much bed bound for a long time and even though I’m doing better I still get into funks. The thought of making a tasty and nutritional dinner for my family as we sit and talk about our days always helps.” — Ashley R.
27. “Write. Even if it’s uncomfortable, I write. Sometimes it helps to go back and analyze the mind state I was in when I penned the words and other times it just helps to manifest the inner workings of my brain, during my dark times, into something tangible and real rather than a jumbled, toxic mess inside of my head.” — Kaine S.
28. “A hot bath does wonders for me.” — Vivian G.
29. “Bake. Reminds me of my grandma and good times. Smells yummy, too.” — Jaimie M.
30. “I try to always sit outside for at least 15 minutes!” — Darci O.
31. “I will do my makeup. It gives me a sense of doing something and keeps me busy for a short period.” — Louise J.
32. “I write in my positive journal whether I feel like it or not. It keeps me going!” — Tammy O.
33. “Read and read and read and research and listen to other people on forums like The Mighty, all day long. Gets me through.” — Natty H.
34. “I’m trying to draw what I feel to show other people like my doctor or therapist what’s going on in my head because I can’t use my words.” — Týnka Š.
35. “I find videos that make me happy or really sad movies because sometimes when I cry really hard I feel a bit better afterwards.” — Ashley M.
36. “I get up with kids talk to them. Tell them nice things about their clothes or behavior and tell them have a good day at school or etc.. Making my kids smile is the best reward for me. It gives me a reason to live and a purpose.” — Jen T.
37. “I write slam poetry and perform in front on the mirror because it reminds me it might some days overshadow my happiness but it cannot overshadow my ability as a writer.” — Sarah C.
38. “I take my pup out to the front yard to pee. Then she gets so excited she begs me for a walk. We walk to the park, we play wrestle, chase each other and before I know it I’m laughing. Taking her out to pee changes my day sometimes.” — Nat C.
39. “I can love my daughter. I may get more frustrated, and not want to play with her, but I still love my daughter, even when I don’t want to love anyone else, especially myself.” — Tori H.
40. “Yoga. Keeps me calm and grounded, and allows me to keep control of my breathing when I feel like I can’t control anything else.” — Brooke B.
41. “I spend my day behind a sewing machine, it helps me to see material results of my work. I also cuddle a lot with my wonderful guinea pigs.” — Markéta V.
42. “Accept it… by accepting that; yes, today is a darker day, my depression has a stronger hold on me, I’ve found I tend to actually manage to get through the day. You can’t see the stars shine without the darkness. With no dark, there is also no light. Acceptance is a major thing to being able to get through/live with depression.” — Deb C.
43. “I always call my grandma and grandpa to see how they are doing. I love them so much even when it gets bad, I always want to make sure they’re OK.” — Kylie J.
44. “Wash my bedsheets then put them back on my bed. The smell of clean laundry really helps. Makes you feel fresher and happier.” — Debbie S.
45. “Write a thank you note that’s long overdue – ‘past due’ (it’s never too late) – put a stamp on it and walk it out to the mailbox. Always keep stamps and thank you cards.” — Carol M.
46. “Drink a full glass of water. I know that sounds simple, but for me it’s a big deal. Even if I can’t eat, drinking water is something that I can stomach down.” — Cassey M.
47. “Text my loved ones and tell them I love them and appreciate them. It makes you feel good to make others feel good, and it’s just enough of a connection to ease the isolation.” — Leah V.
What would you add?