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15 'Hygiene Hacks' for When You're Depressed

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When you live with depression, often everyday tasks like maintaining personal hygiene can feel at best, difficult, and at worst, exhausting. When you’re struggling to get out of bed and fighting the ruminating thoughts characteristic of depression, showering and brushing your teeth may be the last things on your mind.

If this sounds like you, know you aren’t alone. 

We wanted to know what tips and tricks people with depression use to take care of their personal hygiene, so we asked our mental health community to share some of the “hacks” they use when they’re feeling depressed.

Here’s what they shared with us:

1. Using Dry Shampoo

“Dry Shampoo. Short hair… Shower products that have amazing scents to entice me.” — Autumn G.

“Dry shampoo, deodorant, clean smelling perfume. Makes it look like you have it together even though you’re falling apart inside.” — Mackenzie W.

2. Sponge Bathing

“Sponge bathing in sink… Lots of lotion [and] perfume.” — Terrie S.

3. Setting “Personal Hygiene” Alarms

“I always forget to brush my teeth, so I have an alarm set on my phone to remind me to brush. When I’m done with brushing, I wash my face. I also have alarms set to remind me to take my meds and drink a bottle of water.” — Alexis D.

“Brushing my teeth is the worst when I’m in that state, so I put a checklist next to my bed every morning to remember to get up and at least do that. At night since I don’t have a set bedtime and sometimes I’ll fall asleep before I do, I set an alarm to wake myself up to do it.” — Smith J.

4. Using Baby Wipes

“When it’s really bad… Baby wipes to stay fresh, [and] decent chewing gum (usually extra whitening bubblegum flavor).” — Helen H.

Baby wipes! I will wash my face, neck, chest — basically any place that sweats.” — Morticia A.

5. Using Mouthwash When You Can’t Brush Your Teeth

“Using mouthwash takes basically no effort. It’s obviously not the best, but it’s better than no oral hygiene at all.” — Emily B.

6. “Tricking” Yourself Into Showering

“When I get really bad, I write on my arms or legs in pen so I have to shower that way no one sees the same pen mark the next day.” — Amanda B.

“My OCD kicks in when I’m struggling and I’m able to manipulate it to fulfill my daily needs. I focus on the feeling of dirt on my skin, the oil and residue, how it feels heavy and like an extra weight. The more I think about it, the heavier it feels, and I have to get that weight off. So I take a shower and rinse away the dirt and oil as well as whatever emotions I’ve been wearing all day. Sometimes it helps.” — Nicole R.

“I keep my room very cold so when I wake up, I’m so cold I want to get in a warm shower. It helps me get my day started with some motivation.” — Alyssa J.

7. Using a Shower Seat

“I’ve heard investing in a shower seat helps. I love having a movable shower head, that way it’s easier and less strain to get places rinsed properly. I wash my hair only two times a week and use a shower cap so I don’t have to worry about my hair getting wet. I use baby wipes on my between days.” — Sarah D.

8. Asking for Help

“Sometimes I ask my boyfriend for help. He’ll run a small bath and wash my hair for me. It’s very comforting.” — Ember H.

“My husband may have to help brush my hair when I’m really struggling. It’s great to have that extra love and support during those times.” — Christa O.

9. Washing Hair in Sink

“Wash hair in bathroom sink, ball caps and sunglasses when going out to hide me not wearing makeup.” — Terrie S.

“I’ll do sink showers where I just put my head in the sink, wash my hair and face in the sink and if I need to brush my teeth in the morning — which is the hardest for me — I have a special playlist for that.” — Rachel M.

10. Cutting Down on Extra Steps

“Minimizing the number of steps/activities in the morning. Keeping my toothbrush in the shower for example, that way it’s one less stop in the morning. Picking out my outfit ahead of time, so I don’t have to think about my appearance in the morning.” — Clara B.

11. Taking a Bath Instead of Shower

“When it actually comes to bathing, I do bubble baths, with a candle and some sort of bath bomb or bubble bar. It tricks my mind into think all I’m doing is relaxing, when really I am bathing to. Win, win!” — Jayla F.

12. Using Deep Conditioner on Matted Hair

“If you ever get to the point where you haven’t brushed your hair and it’s impossible to untangle, use deep conditioning treatments. Leave in the conditioner for 20 to 30 minutes. Then take a brush to the shower and gently comb through the tangles as the conditioner washes out.” — Olivia E.

13. Making Realistic Shower Expectations

“Reminding myself that even if I get in the shower, I can just let the water wash over me. I don’t have to wash my hair if I don’t want to. Sometimes that effort is just too much.” — Jenna H.

14. Using Deodorant and Body Spray

“Febreeze and body mists are life savers. Double duty when you want to not smell like you’ve been holed up for weeks. I usually go for a light, airy scent. Deodorant, perfume, makeup are all laid out on the counter. Deodorant is applied at night (actually recommended over day time application because it wears off less and provides better “ew” protection). Perfume is two spritzes, and makeup is always minimal to none.” — Nah’iel K.

15. Investing in Nice Hygiene Products

“Having some really nice skincare products usually helps me look forward to the facial stuff. Sometimes someone running you a bath means the world. Making sure I have stuff that smells nice on my body and hair.” — Sheree B.

Getty Image via cofotoisme

Originally published: December 6, 2017
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