When you're fighting depression, then as we hear from members of The Depression Project’s 3,000,000+ person social media community every single day, it’s really, really common to struggle to shower. And, for this reason, in this blog post, we’d like to share with you:
- The reasons why it can be so difficult to shower when you have depression (as told to us by members of The Depression Project’s community);
- A variety of cognitive behavioural therapy-based strategies to make it easier for you to shower when you’re in a depressive episode;
- Links to some additional resources that can provide further suggestions and guidance that may make it easier for you to shower when you're in a depressive episode.
As soon as you’re ready, let’s get started!
The Reasons Why It Can Be So Difficult To Shower When You Have Depression
Like we’ve said, when you have depression, it can be very, very difficult to have a shower. In particular, according to members of The Depression Project’s community, this is commonly because:
- When you’re deep in a depressive episode, it’s common to be so consumed by depression’s debilitating symptoms that it can feel impossible to be able to attend to anything else beyond surviving (including what would otherwise be simple, routine tasks like having a shower).
- When you're so "depression tired" that even getting out of bed for example can feel like climbing a mountain, then getting undressed, starting the shower, washing yourself, towelling yourself off, deciding what to wear and then getting dressed again can feel completely and utterly beyond your capacity. And, as a result, like our community members often mention, showering can feel extremely, extremely overwhelming when you're deep in a depressive episode.
- Depression can completely cripple your motivation, and make it difficult to see the point in doing anything - including showering.
- In addition to because of “depression lack-of-motivation”, you may also not see the point in showering because, as a result of your depression, you’re keeping to yourself and not leaving your home.
- Struggling to shower when you’re in a depressive episode can trigger negative thoughts - such as, for example "I'm so hopeless for finding it so difficult to do something simple like having a shower", "I'm so pathetic", “I’m such a loser”, etcetera.
- Showering can trigger body dysmorphia (in particular, to quote one of The Depression Project's community members: "I can't even take showers because of my body dysmorphia (all I can manage is to bathe once a week). Seeing myself just makes me break down and start crying so much, and makes me feel depressed to the point where I start banging my head against the wall.").
- Like we just touched upon, body image issues can be triggered by looking in the mirror and/or taking your clothes off.
- It can be difficult to distract yourself from depression’s extremely severe symptoms when you're having a shower (as compared to, for example, when you're watching television, scrolling social media or playing with your pet).
- Depression can make you feel so sensitised that the water from the shower nozzle bearing down on your skin may be physically painful.
- When you have depression and are struggling with feelings of worthlessness and not being good enough, it's common to not feel worthy of being clean.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy-Based Strategies You Can Implement To Make It Easier For You To Shower When You’re In A Depressive Episode
When you’re in a depressive episode, then believe it or not, there are actually a variety of strategies you can implement to make it easier for you to shower. And, right now, we’d like to share five of them with you!
Strategy #1 To Make It Easier To Shower When You Feel Depressed – Remind Yourself Of The Reasons Why Having A Shower Will Help You
When you’re consumed with depression – perhaps to such an extent that it’s an enormous challenge to even get out of bed, for example – then having a shower can feel pointless. If you can relate, then this may be because you feel as if, for example:
- No-one will notice if you don’t have a shower, since you have no intention of leaving your home;
- You have much bigger problems to worry about;
- Even if you are able to work up the energy and motivation to have a shower, you may feel that it “won't make a difference anyway”.
However, having a shower when you’re in a depressive episode has some very important benefits. In particular, these include, for example:
- You’ll likely feel more empowered and have a more positive sense of self compared to if you didn’t have a shower;
- You’ll likely feel a little bit more “in control” of your depression and of your life;
- You’ll likely feel more physically (and emotionally) comfortable during an intense depressive episode;
- Consequently, as a result of these benefits, having a shower can be a small - but important - step towards climbing out of a depressive episode.
Strategy #2 To Make It Easier To Shower When You Feel Depressed – Breaking Out Of “All-Or-Nothing” Thinking
“All-or-nothing thinking” involves thinking in “extremes”, instead of having a more “balanced” perspective1. In particular, all-or-nothing thinking can hold you back from having a shower when you feel depressed by, most notably, causing your default thought process to be along the lines of, for example:
“In order to have a shower, I’ll need to get undressed, go to the bathroom, run the shower, wash my body, wash my hair, dry myself off, decide what to wear and then get dressed again. And, because completing ALL of these steps feels like such a monumental mountain to climb, and because I can’t work up enough energy and motivation right now to climb such a monumental mountain, I’m not going to complete ANY of these steps.”
However, what if instead of thinking in such an all-or-nothing way, you instead just did your best to complete as many of these steps that are involved in having a shower as you can manage – even if this doesn’t entail completing ALL of them?
For example, if you don’t feel up to getting undressed, going to the bathroom, running the shower, washing your body, washing your hair, drying yourself off, deciding what to wear and then getting dressed again, what if you instead skipped washing your hair?
Or just stood in the shower without washing yourself?
Or sat down on the floor of the shower without washing yourself?
Completing just SOME of these “shower steps” like so will likely feel more manageable than completing ALL of them, and as opposed to completing NONE of them, can still result in you experiencing some of the benefits that stem from you having a shower.
Strategy #3 To Make It Easier To Shower When You Feel Depressed – Implement One Or More “Shower Hacks”
In order to make cleaning yourself easier when you have depression, you may find it helpful to resort to one or more “shower hacks”. In particular, the hacks listed below are some that members of The Depression Project's community have personally shared with us:
- Don’t clean every part of your body if you don’t feel up to it;
- Just stand under the water if it’s all you can manage (or sit down on the floor in the shower or on a “shower seat”);
- Have a bath instead;
- Do “sink showers”;
- Use baby wipes if you can’t bring yourself to shower;
- Use dry shampoo;
- Spray yourself with deodorant / perfume.
Strategy #4 To Make It Easier To Shower When You Feel Depressed – Try To Make Having A Shower As Pleasant As Possible
Another strategy you can implement to make yourself more inclined to have a shower when you’re in a depressive episode is to practice what’s known as “temptation bundling” or “impulse pairing”2. In lay man’s terms, this involves pairing something you don’t enjoy and don’t inherently want to do (e.g. showering when you’re in a depressive episode) with something that you do enjoy and do inherently want to do (e.g. listening to music). If you bundle something which you don’t enjoy and don’t inherently want to do with something that you do enjoy and do inherently want to do like so, then the unenjoyable activity will feel more bearable, and as a result, you’ll likely feel more motivated to do it2.
Strategy #5 To Make It Easier To Shower When You Feel Depressed – Reward Yourself
Yet another way to increase your motivation to shower when you’re in a depressive episode and don’t want to shower is to reward yourself for doing so. In particular, this could take the form of, for example, doing something you enjoy after having a shower – such as watching your favourite television show or having a soothing cup of your favourite tea.
Additional Resources That Can Provide Further Suggestions And Guidance Which Could Make It Easier For You To Shower When You’re In A Depressive Episode
Like we’ve said, when you’re in a depressive episode, lack of motivation and/or feeling completely and utterly exhausted can make having a shower feel extremely overwhelming. And, if you can relate to these reasons in particular for struggling to have a shower when you’re in a depressive episode, then we'd like to recommend three cognitive behavioural therapy-based journals that we think you’ll find really, really helpful:
Final Words When It Comes To Depression And Not Showering
So, in this blog post, we’ve covered a lot of ground regarding depression and not showering, including:
- The reasons why showering can be so hard when you’re in a depressive episode;
- A variety of cognitive behavioural therapy-based strategies you can implement to make it easier to shower when you’re in a depressive episode.
And, before we bring this blog post to a close, we’d just like to remind you that not showering when you’re in a depressive episode is really, really, really common. And, for this reason, if you are finding it difficult to shower when you’re in a depressive episode, then please know that you are not alone, and that given everything you’re going through, struggling to shower is completely understandable.
From the bottom of our hearts, we really hope that you’ve found this blog post helpful.
All our love,
The Depression Project Team.