When Personal Hygiene Feels Like a Chore: Mental Health & Hygiene

by Krissy Ward


     I have always wished that issues with daily hygiene due to chronic pain or mental illnesses were talked about more. I mean, I understand why people wouldn't want to talk about it and/or admit that they've gone a week without showering or bathing. It can be a little embarrassing; I suppose. This will actually be my first time admitting it, actually... But... I said that I would be an open book for you guys during this journey. And I'm so sure that the more we talk about this, the more we’ll see how common it is.

     The connection between chronic illness/mental illness and personal hygiene goes way deeper than most people may realize. Brushing teeth and bathing is second nature to most people, but if you are struggling, these are the tasks that are the hardest to complete.

     There were/are times when chronic pain just wouldn’t let me be great and it started to affect my mental health. The two of them combined just seemed to seep into every part of my life, affecting even the most basic things, like showering and brushing my teeth.

     It’s honestly due to a lack of energy. Sometimes it can be hard to even get out of bed, much less take a shower and brush my teeth. There are times when I just do not have the energy to turn the shower on, get towels and clothes to change into, climb into the shower, wash my body, wash my face, dry myself off, moisturize my skin, brush my teeth, do my hair and get dressed. Sometimes, a lot of times, I just don't have the energy.

     Most people think of taking a shower or bathing as a simple task; but people with chronic illnesses, nothing is ever simple.
I see it as preparing to climb Mount Everest after just completing a triathlon. It’s that tiring thing I have to check off my To-Do List.

     Also, having chronic pain means that sometimes the shower itself can be very painful. Sometimes, taking a shower hurts. The water pressure and even the temperature can make showering painful.

     If you find yourself struggling with self-care, here are a few tips to make things easier for you.

  • Break your goals into smaller tasks and prioritize.
  • Get a shower chair. This is one of the best investments I've made for myself.
  • Try to set a routine. Setting a routine can help with productivity and feeling accomplished. this will also get you in the habit of doing those daily tasks that seem daunting.
  • Treat yourself! After completing those tasks on your to-do list, reward yourself! Buying fancy bubble bath or bath bombs can be a great way to reward yourself. When I was younger, my mom would give me "luxury baths" and she would light candles, put kool-aid in a wine glass for me, dim the lights and play music. I loved it and I think you will too, minus the kool-aid, get you some wine lol.
  • Wipes. Wipes. Wipes. This can be a quick way to hit those problem areas. If you find yourself not able to leave the bed just yet, no worries! You can use these while you're still in bed so you can stay fresh.
  • I highly recommend grabbing yourself a coochie cookie! These are all natural soaps created especially for our lady parts and will have you smelling fresh all day long. I order from The V-Spot (My favorite scent is the Bombshell and Garden of Eden). They also have an all natural feminine mist that can help you as well.

     Be proud of all the small steps you are taking. Be realistic when setting your goals so you don't get discouraged. Be proud of yourself for even trying AGAIN! I know how hard that can be sometimes. I know that you're doing the best you can, just remind yourself of that.

     I’m proud of all of you who are in a dark place and you got up to brush your teeth, wash your face or shower.... and you should be proud too! Also, it’s okay if you didn’t do any of those. KEEP GOING! You will get there. You got this!

     If you have had moments where you just could not do the basic self care tasks, please share how you got through it. Also please add more tips and suggestions.