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10 Tips for Getting Through the Day When Depression Makes You Exhausted

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Living with depression often means living with a number of uncomfortable, irritating or downright painful physical symptoms. It can be tough to accept, but depression really does affect more than just our minds. Perhaps one of the most prevalent of these symptoms is exhaustion.

Have you ever had a seemingly restful night’s sleep, only to struggle to get out of bed or complete the most basic of tasks? With depression, even the idea of brushing your teeth, changing your clothes or making your morning coffee can seem insurmountable. Your limbs feel weak and heavy; your pillow looks so inviting, and all you want to do is stay in the warmth of bed and forget about responsibilities.

But we mustn’t let depression win, and by taking even small steps in the right direction, we sometimes find that depression’s grip isn’t quite as secure as we thought. That’s why we asked our Mighty mental health community about their tips for getting through the day when depression makes you feel exhausted. We’d love for you to try some of their suggestions, no matter how simple.

And remember: you aren’t “lazy” because you struggle to get out of bed, or can’t clean that pile of dirty dishes in the sink. Just do the best you can today.

Here is what our community had to say:

1. Take Care of Your Pets

“My rescue animals help me. I’ve been feeding and giving strays a safe place for five years. I currently have 10 plus in my outside cat family: some strays who come and go, some rescues and some who adopted me and stayed to call this home. They depend on me. I’ve been called on by them to rub bellies during birthing and to babysit kittens and raised a fair number of abandoned ones myself. I can’t quit or give up. They yowl at my bedroom window if I ignore them past noon. They make me laugh when nothing else will.” — Selena W.

“Definitely pets! I actually was able to get my one cat classified as an emotional support animal. There are some days I wake up already knowing it will be a rough day and the only thing that motivates me to even get out of bed is knowing that I need to be able to take care of my kitties. My ESA cat especially can tell when I’m not doing good and will stay glued to my side. She has also gotten into the habit of getting in my face, purring and demanding cuddles when my alarm goes off because she knows it means I need to be up and getting ready for work.” — Jessica E.

“I adopted my cat a year ago. I still take care of him even if I can’t take care of myself. On bad days, he sleeps in my lap while I sleep in my chair. His little cat snores always make me smile.” — Emily S.

2. Companionship

“Talking to my favorite person helps me. He can usually tell when I’m depressed, and when he does, he goes out of his way to make me laugh. He will do the most ridiculous things just to get a smile out of me.” — Abia K.

“My husband and dogs help me on my most exhausting days. The love they show me on my worst possible days is so incredible!” — Megan J.

3. Take Baby Steps

“Do just one thing, even if it’s getting out of bed by a certain time. If I do that, it’s a success. If I feel I have enough energy, I brush my teeth, then maybe shower. But if I can’t do anything more than get out of bed, my day was still a success. A lot of times, just one tiny step at a time leads to a super productive day.” — Sarah H.

Brushing my hair. seems silly but on days I can’t even get dressed this little accomplishment means so very much, even when taking a shower is just too much work I brush my hair it helps me ground myself n feel like I did something worthwhile.” — Stephanie R.

“I do just one thing to help myself. Then after that, one more thing. And so on and so on. Breaking things down into smaller things makes it easier to focus.” — Abi T.

4. Combine Tasks

“When I get up to go to the toilet, I force myself to brush my teeth as I figure I’m up and in the bathroom already. It helps with my motivation and makes me want to carry on getting ready for the day, like brushing my hair and putting regular clothes on instead of wearing my pajamas all day. It really does work for me.” — Becci P.

5. Listen to Music

“Music is the best way to process what I’m dealing with. It’s like someone is delivering sympathy and relatable content right into my mind, bypassing all of the depression roadblocks. Sometimes just feeling not alone is enough.” — David R.

“Music. Mostly country music. Anything by Adam Brand or Matt Cornell. People call me obsessed with these two but they just don’t understand. I live in a very bad situation and they are the only ones who make me really really happy.” — Mandy S.

“I listen to dancey K-pop and Reggaeton.” — Shelley L.

6. Practice Simple Self-Care

“Take a hot bath during the evening, right before bedtime, using soft music and Epsom salts. Just take the time to recoup from the day’s events, thinking of any good moments that happened that day.” — Sarah A.

“Lately, there are three simple things helping me. I will use my weighted blanket. Sometimes, I might light incense or a candle. If I can function even a little bit, I will go outside and stand barefoot in the grass under the sun (or even if it’s raining) for five to 15 minutes in order to be with the natural earth and ground myself.” — Jessica B.

7. Taking a Shower

“Have a shower. My mum always told me when I was younger that having a shower would make me feel better if I was sick. To this day, that’s the one thing that can make me feel like I have the strength to make it through the day. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that help the most!” — Jade G.

8. Get Into Nature

“Walk outside and take deep breaths of fresh air. This works even better if it’s raining. It helps me feel alive, and reminds me that the rest of nature is alive and always there to help me cope.” — Jacinta M.

“Hiking with my dogs helps me. Even if I’m exhausted, I need to go hiking to clear my mind. Being with nature is the only time my racing thoughts calm down and I can actually be at peace.” — Oj B.

9. Do Something Creative

“I draw on my phone/tablet with an app. I’m able to express myself, while keeping my mind busy during these times.” — Tatauq M.

10. Exercise

“I go for a run. It helps wake me up and fight the fatigue.” — Danielle G.

“Swimming. I do my lengths, then use the sauna and steam room. It really makes me feel loads better!” — Melissa H.

What would you add?

Photo by Maaike Nienhuis on Unsplash

Originally published: May 4, 2018
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