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5 Ways to Celebrate Your 'Small' Accomplishments When You're Depressed

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I recently posted a picture of some light bulbs with a caption about how I was proud of myself for changing a burnt out light in less than a week. I had many people comment that they struggle with the exact same thing.

The truth is, when I’m dealing with depression, those seemingly small things are often the hardest to do. It’s a symptom that comes with depression as well as many other chronic illnesses: Lack of motivation, low energy and loss of interest in daily activities are all part and parcel. I’m very familiar with these symptoms as I’m sure many of you are too.

When I do get through some of these tasks, I feel like celebrating is necessary. Not all my accomplishments are huge compared to what others get done in their days, but what I do accomplish is uniquely mine to celebrate. Sometimes this celebration comes in the form of posting a picture, and other times it’s something a little different. I’d like to share a list of some of these celebration methods and hope the next time you accomplish something great you will use one of them too.

1. Text a friend.

Find a friend or friends who get it, and come up with a text system. Maybe they have the same disorder as you, a similar disorder, or they are just great with empathy. These texts can be quick and to the point or explain things in detail, whatever works with your relationships. Below is a picture of what mine usually look like.

Screenshot of text messages with friends sharing their small accomplishments

2. Create a reward chart.

If stickers are good enough for children, then why shouldn’t they be good enough for me?! Choose what accomplishments you want to acknowledge and create a system. If you’re crafty then part of the fun is designing the chart and picking the stickers.

3. Choose reward items.

Stickers don’t quite do it for you? That’s OK; that’s me sometimes too. Choose an item you want to work towards, whatever suits your budget and lifestyle. For me, it is at times as ordinary as a coffee. Other times, I’ll work my way up to something on my Amazon wishlist, and other times I’ll do something relaxing like get a massage.

4. Celebrate in therapy.

There are no better cheerleaders than therapists and our other social supports. If I’ve accomplished some things between sessions, I’ll usually bring it up. It feels good to be able to report good news now and then amidst the tears. Therapists know how important it is to cheer on a home-cooked meal, a 15-minute walk or a shower, so let them do it. 

5. Post a picture.

As I mentioned above, sometimes its fun to post a picture, especially if you have supportive friends online. Like me, you’ll likely have some friends respond that they too struggle and have accomplished something noteworthy lately. Which I find helps with the “I’m the only one” thoughts that frequently happen.

Image of social media post showing broken light bulb after contributor changed it

I want to assure you that nothing is too small to celebrate. I’ve congratulated myself for many things such as laundry, a five-minute walk, washing my hair, cooking something, sweeping the floor, paying a bill, making a phone call and much more. I invite you not to ignore these small things, as in reality when you have a disability, these small things can actually be very large. If my ideas resonate with you, that’s great! If you’d like to tweak them or come up with your own, that’s awesome too. Have you done something awesome lately? Let’s celebrate in the comments below.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

Lead photo by AJ Garcia on Unsplash. Article images via contributor.

Originally published: November 28, 2018
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