Finding Motivation to Clean When Depressed

Depression can make even the simplest tasks feel overwhelming, and cleaning is no exception. The clutter can accumulate, adding to feelings of helplessness and anxiety. However, creating a cleaner space can positively impact mental health. Here are some practical tips and strategies to help you find motivation to clean when you’re struggling with depression.

Understand the Impact of Clutter on Mental Health

Clutter can exacerbate symptoms of depression. Studies show that a messy environment can increase stress and anxiety levels . Recognizing this connection can be the first step in finding the motivation to clean. A cleaner space can contribute to a clearer mind and improved mood.

Break Tasks Into Small Steps

One of the most effective ways to start cleaning when feeling overwhelmed is to break tasks into small, manageable steps. Instead of viewing the entire house as a single project, focus on one area at a time. For example, start with a corner of a room, a single countertop, or just one drawer. Accomplishing these small tasks can create a sense of achievement and motivate you to continue.

Set a Timer

Setting a timer can make the task of cleaning less daunting. Try the “10-minute rule”: set a timer for ten minutes and clean as much as you can. Knowing that you only need to commit for a short period can make it easier to start. Often, you might find that once you begin, you’re inclined to keep going even after the timer goes off.

Use Music or Podcasts

Listening to your favorite music or a captivating podcast can make cleaning more enjoyable and distract you from negative thoughts. Music has been shown to boost mood and energy levels , which can be particularly helpful when you’re struggling with depression. Create a playlist specifically for cleaning to make the task feel more like a fun activity.

Reward Yourself

Incentives can be a powerful motivator. Plan a small reward for yourself after completing a cleaning task. It could be something simple like enjoying a cup of your favorite tea, watching a short episode of a TV show, or spending a few minutes on a hobby you enjoy. Rewards can create positive reinforcement, making it easier to tackle future cleaning tasks.

Enlist Support

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether it’s a family member, friend, or professional cleaner, having support can make a significant difference. Sometimes, just having someone to keep you company while you clean can provide the motivation you need. Additionally, talking about your struggles with someone you trust can help alleviate feelings of isolation and depression.

Focus on the Benefits

Remind yourself of the benefits of having a clean space. A tidy environment can lead to improved mental clarity, reduced stress, and a greater sense of control over your life . Keeping these benefits in mind can help you push through the initial reluctance to start cleaning.

Create a Routine

Establishing a regular cleaning routine can help make the task feel less overwhelming. Consistency can turn cleaning into a habit, making it easier to maintain a tidy space even when you’re not feeling your best. Start small by dedicating a few minutes each day to tidying up, gradually increasing the time as it becomes a part of your daily routine.

Practice Self-Compassion

It’s important to be kind to yourself during this process. Understand that depression is a serious condition that affects your energy and motivation. Don’t judge yourself harshly for struggling with tasks that seem simple to others. Celebrate small victories and acknowledge your efforts, no matter how minor they may seem.

Seek Professional Help

If your depression is severely impacting your ability to function, consider seeking professional help. A therapist or counselor can provide support and strategies tailored to your specific needs. Sometimes, addressing the underlying mental health issues can make it easier to find the motivation to tackle daily tasks like cleaning.


Finding the motivation to clean when depressed is challenging, but it’s not impossible. By breaking tasks into smaller steps, setting timers, using music or podcasts, rewarding yourself, enlisting support, focusing on the benefits, creating a routine, practicing self-compassion, and seeking professional help when needed, you can create a cleaner, more organized environment that supports your mental health. Remember, it’s okay to take small steps and progress at your own pace.


  1. “The Psychological Impact of a Cluttered Home,” Verywell Mind, link.
  2. “Clutter and Mental Health: What You Need to Know,” Healthline, link.
  3. “How Music Therapy Can Help with Depression,” American Psychological Association, link.
  4. “The Benefits of a Clean House for Mental Health,” Psychology Today, link.