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How to Get Yourself Out of the House While Dealing With Depression

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One of my strategies for managing chronic depression is getting out of the house every day. When I’m having an episode, most days I open my eyes, sigh with frustration, and then begin the battle of my inner dialogue.

Oh, another day. Time to get out of…

Close your eyes and stay in bed. Just 10 more minutes. Feel how tired you are!

10 minutes later…

OK, now I really have to get out of bed…

…Staying in bed won’t hurt anyone. You’ve had a busy few days. Besides, nothing bad can happen if you stay here in your comfortable, warm bed.

But, but I don’t want to waste the day…

And it continues.

I am so glad after years of unhealthily late sleep-ins and ridiculously late nights, I’ve learned:

Here are a few of my strategies:

1. I acknowledge I am blessed to have a part-time job I love. So three days a week, I am obliged to get out of the house. It has made a massive difference to my mental health. Don’t have a job or can’t be employed? Try volunteering. It’s commitment without the pressure. Before I was well enough to have paid employment, I volunteered at a local kids club, at church, and for a mutual-help support group.

2. Organize to have a tea or coffee at a cute cafe at least once a week with a “no pressure” friend.

3. Spread out doctors, specialist and support appointments so they are on different days.

4. Access your local community center or mental health support service.There are plenty of organizations funded by the government who organize activities (such as choirs, art lessons, computer tutorials, community gardens, and tours) and mutual support groups for people with mental or physical illnesses.

5. Don’t do a massive grocery shop. Instead, I get what I need for a day or two.

6. Make bookings! I love going to the theater and the cinema. Booking tickets in advance can force you out of the house, lest you waste good money on something fun.

7. Make a list of all the things you enjoy doing when your mental health is good. Give a copy to those in your support network. It can often be obsolete to say, “Do something you enjoy,” to a depressed person. A common symptom of depression is you can’t think of something you enjoy. This is where my list comes in handy. It reminds me (and others) of the activities that can get me out of the house/bed and will improve my mood. Even if it’s for a short time, it’s worth it.


8. Give yourself credit where credit is due. Don’t be hard on yourself when you do stay in bed or the house all day. Learning to manage mental illness is a long learning process. Write off a bad day and have an early night because tomorrow is a new day.

I’ll be the first to admit that balancing mental health strategies with physical illnesses can make this harder. For example, I’ve had non-stop dizziness for five days and can’t drive, leave the house or operate machinery (in this case some appliances/hot stove top). For these sick or flare-up days, my goal is to get out of bed, brush my teeth, and eat my meals or watch Netflix while sitting in the sun. If I can add a shower, play with some pastels, paint, read, welcome a visitor, or walk to the mailbox, it’s a productive day. Then when I get better or my flare-up ends, I’ll start leaving the house again.

What helps you get out of bed and the house on bad days?

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: August 16, 2016
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