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5 Hygiene Hacks for When Depression Makes Showering Feel Impossible

It’s been “sweat dripping from under my boobs, behind my knees and between my fingers” weather and daily showers have become mandatory. I’ve always been pretty good at sudsing up, but it’s been a challenge this last week. My depression has been following me around like an annoying younger sibling and I’ve noticed my showers are starting to happen later in the day and zapping all my energy.

I understand the shame of not showering or brushing your teeth for a week (or two). I feel like such a failure when I can’t muster up the mental or physical energy to do something as basic as keeping myself clean, but that’s the dirty truth. However, when I can eventually force myself to bathe, there are some hacks I picked up. The goal is to always make it as easy and enjoyable as possible. Possible being the operative word.

1. When and how.

When do you have the most energy to lather up? Do you want a soak in the tub or a quick shower? I’m usually awake by 6 a.m. and have a limited number of hours where I have the energy to shower, so it’s one of the first things I do. Generally, I’m a shower girl, but if standing for five minutes feels like slogging through mud, I choose to have a bath instead.

2. Be prepared.

What do you need in the shower or bath and after the shower or bath? I lay my purple towel on the toilet beside the shower, set out my leggings, sensible undies and tank top, and make sure that the shampoo and soap are where they’re supposed to be. It’s so stressful to get in the shower and then have to chase the soap into the corner of the bathtub where it inevitably escapes again. It belongs in its conveniently placed dish. Ditto with the shampoo. If it helps, buy one of those hanging shower caddies.

3. Make it easy.

What takes the least effort? I only wash my hair two or three times a week and use a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner. I haven’t used this before, but I heard dry shampoo works well. Or if your hair has been in a messy bun for a week and your brush refuses to do its job, there is always a detangler. This may seem silly, but I wash my body in the same pattern each time because it takes the least amount of physical and mental effort. I start at my feet and legs and work my way up, so I don’t have to bend down twice. When I’m really tired, I follow my husband’s advice: “You don’t need to wash your feet because that’s where all the soap is anyway.” He’s a brilliant man.

4. Make it enjoyable.

What will motivate you to get out of bed and into the shower or bath? Sometimes, the only thing that gets me in the shower is the knowledge that my shower head will massage my aching shoulders and back. I haven’t invested in a massage shower head but I might just do that. Also, it can help to use shampoo and soap that smell good. I’m a lavender, coconut and vanilla kind of gal but some like it fruity. There is a whole industry dedicated to you breathing a sigh of relief when entering the bath; bath bombs, bubble bath, bath beads, aromatherapy oils, etc.

5. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

What if you’re really unwell and haven’t bathed in a couple of weeks? I set an alarm so that I know I’m only going to be in there for five minutes and then dive back under the sheets when I’m done. I understand how deep down exhausting it can be to even stand up. So, we deserve a break after. The last weapon in my arsenal is to have my husband come into the bathroom and talk to me while I’m in the shower. This distracts me so that the five minutes don’t feel so long, and I don’t feel so lonely.

These tricks may or may not work for you, but I hope it helps. Even knowing that you’re not alone in this horrible, exhausting, depressive episode can be huge. What tricks do you have when bathing feels impossible?

Getty Images photo via Rudzhan Nagiev