Eating the Elephant and Washing the Dishes

Eating the Elephant and Washing the Dishes

Introductory note from Teacup Wellness founders, Anne Mitchell and Roxie Speer.

As we celebrate the birth of our country today with gatherings of family and friends around cookouts, ball games, and fireworks, it is easy to forget that not everyone is in a good place, regardless of sunny smiles and warm hugs.

In today’s blog, our Teacup Coach Ted Morris provides important insights and ideas for dealing with symptoms of depression. We urge you to get professional help if you think you may be suffering from depression.

Depression of various grades and levels is probably the most common mental health diagnosis of our time.  Depression, whether classified as mild, moderate or severe, has become commonplace in our culture.

Having depression as a constant companion can wear down even the most resilient among us.  There are several effective methods we can employ to help us cope that are available to most everyone.

One very simple strategy is movement.  Physical movement of any kind can make a positive difference.  For instance walking around the block is a common activity prescribed by mental health professionals.

For the moderately to severely depressed, however, this may seem rather daunting.  An alternative could be washing a dish or two and then putting the away.  This simple task could be all that is needed to create some positive momentum.

From there, two more dishes can get cleaned and perhaps even a whole dishwasher can get filled.  If you manage to knock the whole kitchen out, more power to you.  Positive momentum is built on one small task at a time.

The same principle applies to yard work. Some people enjoy mowing the lawn, but many of us do not.  A quick reframe of the situation can help us view mowing the lawn as a coping skill.

Mowing the lawn requires physical movement and a general awareness of one’s surroundings.  This makes it a strong coping skill that engages both the body and the mind.

In addition, this is an outside activity, so fresh air sunshine, and the resulting vitamin D make lawn mowing a valid and useful counter to depression.

This strategy can be applied to any household task. Walking down the stairs and doing the laundry is another example.  Movement, activity, mental engagement, and another small goal has been accomplished.

It is important to be mindful of the fact that moderate to severe levels of depression can make common daily tasks seem insurmountable.  I endorse the same strategy commonly used in pachyderm consumption.

What is pachyderm consumption, you ask?  Allow me to rephrase:  “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is “one bite at a time.”

If we revisit our kitchen example, the kitchen gets cleaned one dish at a time.  The lawn gets mowed one blade of grass at a time.  Start with a small set of goals and create positive momentum.

The key to creating positive momentum is to focus on doing something, rather than doing something perfectly.  Perfectionism has no place in this strategy.

Simply pick up and move, one step at a time.  Nothing has to be perfect; rather the actions involved simply need to use more energy than standing still or camping on the couch.

No one ever ate an elephant by trying to swallow it whole.  Huge projects are accomplished one task at a time, every time.


Ted Morris is a coach with Teacup Wellness. Ted holds a Master of Arts degree in Psychology, Counseling Specialty. His areas of focus include Body Image, Confidence, Goal Setting, Motivation, and Self-Esteem Building.

Photo used with permission from

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