Let’s talk about it – Mental health can impact your hygiene


Written by Jodie Walker, a Politics and International Relations NTU student

Sometimes a bad mental health day isn’t as forceful as panic attacks or crying, sometimes depression and other mental health problems can operate more subtly, but equally as difficult to get through. A mislead assumption is that depression is just feeling sad all the time, or that anxiety is having panic attacks. However, mental health can affect people through many different ways, and these are not spoken about enough. Clinical psychologists point out that not having enough energy to do simple self-care tasks, such as brushing their teeth or washing hair is normal with people struggling from depression and anxiety. Depression is often characterized by little interest in activities, as well as fatigue. In other words, you have little motivation or energy to maintain hygiene while depressed.

As mentioned, depression is not just an emotion of feeling sad. Sometimes depression can affect people through a general lack of motivation to do anything, it is not so much a feeling of laziness but a feeling of disheartenment and detachment from every day activities. One of the worst things about mental illness is how it seeps into so many parts of your life, affecting even the most mundane things, like showering and brushing your teeth. This part of depression and mental health especially is a topic that people struggle to talk about, as there is a sense of shame around poor hygiene.

One of the reasons why we struggle to talk about it is because admitting that you can’t find the energy to wash your hair can be viewed as embarrassing. But it shouldn’t be. Like I said, it is not a feeling of laziness or a hatred for cleanliness and hygiene, it is the lack of energy and motivation. It is okay to feel this way sometimes, and to have days where you stay in bed because you can’t face the world. However, it is easy to make this a habit which will only manifest bad thoughts and even more discouragement.

Small steps should be taken to avoid letting these waves of demotivation make you feel behind and cause feelings of anxiety and frustration. It is important to go at your own pace, take things slowly – even if you just manage to get out of bed and shower – you should feel proud! It can be very helpful to find the energy to tidy your room as a clean room can reflect a clear mind and feeling of achievement. Or, to just get out of your house and have a walk or get anything you need from the shops can be helpful as these feelings of achievement and productivity combat the overclouding feeling of demotivation and lack of energy. Every day activities such as eating, showering, brushing your teeth and tidying your room can seem harder than writing a 3,000-word essay in one go, but doing these things can really help clear your mind and will make you feel so much better and more productive.

Yes, we should all practice hygiene for the sake of public and personal health. But if your mental health is making it tough to take care of yourself, you shouldn’t feel ashamed about reaching out for support.

For help and advice whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.
Personal Pastoral Support at NTU (general worries and anxiety, homesickness, loneliness, a relationship breakup, or a bereavement)
Support from NTU
Silvercloud: SilverCloud is our online system designed to help with a range of mental health issues.
Depression advice
Wellness in Mind: Advice and support for anyone in Nottingham experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing
Struggling at Uni? Go to Student Minds
10 Keys to happiness



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