Spoon Theory For Mental Health

Chronic mental illness, is disease that has been studied for years and it won’t be over any time soon. See what the spoon theory for mental health is all about.

Have you ever heard the Spoon Theory before? I just found out about it and I’m really impressed by how it applies to mental health issues.

What Is The Spoon Theory?

The Spoon Theory is a fantastic idea created by Christine Miserando, the owner of But You Don’t Look Sick. According to her site, it began when a friend at a dinner party asked her what it was really like to be sick with lupus.

After thinking for a few seconds, she went back into the kitchen and got as many spoons as possible and gave them to her bestie who was counting them. She then told her bestie that each spoon represented the different activities she could do that day

Unlike those who are healthy, chronically ill people like lupus patients have a very limited amount oe physical stamina. As a result, their choices for how to use their time are very limited.

That morning, as Christine was sitting with her friend, she told him about her daily routine. She said that every morning she had to get out of bed, go downstairs, eat breakfast, make herself lunch, and then go back upstairs to shower and dress before starting her work.

Her friend was very moved by what she heard. He knew how hard it must be for people who were sick to live each moment of their lives.

What Does The Spoon Theory Have To Do With Mental Health?

While I know that not everyone understands this, and many will disagree with it, stress and depression are sometimes classified by medical professionals as chronic disorders. In my own life I can relate perfectly to Christine’s point of view.

As long as I don’t suffer from any physical health issues, I can handle anything life throws at me.

How to Spend Spoons?

So I’ve seen some estimates of the cost of each day’s activities, so I figured I’d share them with you.

One SpoonTwo SpoonsThree SpoonsFour Spoons
Get out of bedMake and Eat MealsPlay with KidsCall Someone
Get DressedGet Kids DressedLight HouseworkGo to Church
Unload the DishwasherLoad the DishwasherPay BillsPlay/Work Outside
Star LaundryFold ClothesGo SomewhereSerious Cleaning
Read my BiblePut Away ClothesTake a Shower/BathHomeschooling
Spoon Theory Table for Mental Health Aiding

If you look at the table above, you might think, “You pretty much have to do almost everything listed there every day! How can anyone possibly do that if they only have twelve spoons!? That’d be crazy!” But that’d be the whole point — I can‘t.

Each and every morning, I am faced with a choice about how to spend my time. Some things are very easy to decide. For example, I know I must eat breakfast before I leave the house.

Other choices are not so clear cut. Should I go to work? Or should I stay home and play video games? Sometimes it is hard to make decisions because I can’t see clearly where my priorities lie.

When we homeschool, my spoons are always gone. I’m mentally exhausted and usually can’t handle any more than that when we homeschool.

Sometimes when I drag myself to church there isn’t enough time to get everything done for the day.

How to Get More Spoons?

According to Christine, if you’re having trouble sleeping at night because of anxiety or depression, you cannot control whether or not you sleep well during the day. However, you can take steps to help yourself get better.

One thing you should remember about writing is that it is not an exact science. Even if you write your best, you may find yourself rewriting it later.

So it pays to get it right the first time. Once you’ve written something, you’ll probably realize how bad it really is. Then you can go back and make changes. But if you’re too lazy to rewrite it, then you might as well throw it out.

How Do I Spend My Spoons?

spoon theory for mental health 2

For every type of daily life, there are certain things that I’d prefer to eat at breakfast and lunchtime. Here are some examples of what I might choose if I were eating for these particular types of daily lives.

What I’d really like to point out is that I usually have more than “12 spoons.” Rather, I would suggest that I have 15 spoons.

Church Days

It has been one of the hardest times for me because I was alone and had no support. Also, I suffered from a lot of anxiety when attending church.

These days lunchtime meals are more likely to be ramen noodles, cereal, or reheated leftovers because making healthy meals is almost impossible.

  • Take A Shower — 3
  • Get Out of Bed — 1
  • Getting Dressed — 1
  • Dressing Kids — 2
  • Church — 4
  • Meal Preparation and Confection — 2

And again, I am at 13 spoons so if I don’t have any spoons left, then I can use some spoons from another time, or I can take a nap and save them up for later when I will need them.

Errand Days

My driving anxieties mean that errand days are always the days when my partner is at home because he works as our driver.

These days, they rarely happen, and when they do, they’re very difficult for me. However, he helps out by doing things like making dinner and taking care of the children.

  • Light Cleaning — 3
  • Shower — 3
  • Get Out Of Bed — 1
  • Getting Dressed — 1
  • Dressing Kids — 2
  • Go out Somewhere — 3 or 4 depending on where we have to go
  • Soft Cleaning — 3

Then, if I get lucky, I might be able to use up some extra spools by talking to my husband on his off days.

Cleaning Days

Typically, our first full weekend after the kids go back to school is a “cleanup weekend.” During this time, we clean up any clutter left by the kids during the previous weeks.

  • Getting Out of Bed — 1
  • Dressing — 1
  • Doing Dishes — 3
  • Doing Laundry — 3
  • Serious Cleaning — 4
  • Meals Prepping — 2

Homeschool Days

  • Get Out of Bed — 1
  • Bible Reading — 1
  • Dishes — 1
  • Laundry — 1
  • Folding Laundry — 2
  • Meal Prep
  • And Homeschooling — 4

At that point, I am at 14 spoons remaining. Depending on whether it is at the start or end of the week, there are several options for me to use up the remaining spoons.

For example, I could do some light housework; play with my children; or take a shower.

Toward the middle of the week, I usually run out of sporks and so I’ll just take a midday nap to try to recover some energy.

We don’t dress up for school anymore because most of our days at school are “pajama day.”

How to Keep Improving?

spoon theory for mental health 3

Despite Christine’ s claim that you can’ t get more sponges, I believe for those suffering from anxiety and depression that’s not quite accurate.

No, we can’t just create more out of thin air. But there are some ways we can increase our capacity. Here are some strategies that I’ve found to be effective in “giving me more sponges” over the long-run:

  • Focusing on my thought habits and patterns
  • Staying hydrated
  • To be sure I really do eat healthy foods.
  • Stay up to date on my meds/supplement use
Natural Appraise on Mental Illness