Doing Cocooning Right

Patient Expert

We depressives are frequently drawn towards cocooning, the practice of hanging out in our homes for most of our free time. I think that usually that's due to a lack of energy, but also a need to be "safe" in our own little nest.

Given that it's winter and many people who aren't depressed are also cocooning due to the cold weather, why not make the most of it and actually celebrate cocooning? It also makes sense in these tough economic times because staying home is a lot cheaper than going out. So if you're going to cocoon, do it right. What you want to do is find ways to do as much as possible from home, and also make your home cozy and inviting.

  • I know it's difficult when your energy is sapped by depression, but try to spend a weekend or two taking care of all those little things around the house you keep meaning to do. Otherwise, your home will be less a soothing oasis than a source of irritation.
  • Look at your home's lighting situation. If it's a dark cave, you might end up feeling claustrophobic instead of cocooned. I found a lot of cool vintage lamps on eBay. (If you get vintage lighting, just make sure the electrical parts are in good shape and there's no fraying on the cords.)
  • Shop online. Since I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I've become the queen of online shopping. My favorite sites are and the aforementioned eBay. Today I bought the valentines for my son's class on Amazon. Since I pay $79 a year for their Amazon Prime program two-day shipping is free. No driving from store to store, finding a parking place, and in my case, due to MS, getting exhausted after half an hour.
  • If you're missing any furniture or other items for your nest, join your local Freecycle group. You would be amazed at what people are giving away for free. Of course, you do have to leave the house to pick the item up.
  • Sign up for Netflix. I love Netflix. I can't even tell you how much I used to spend in library fines because I couldn't get videos back in time. But Netflix is cheap, as low as $9.00 per month, and you don't have to go any farther than your mailbox to receive and send the DVDs.   Also, most television shows come out on DVD during the next season. If you're willing to wait a year or so to see shows on the paid cable networks like HBO or Showtime, it can help you to cut down on your bill.
  • Get rid of books you've read and get "new" ones by signing up for, where you'll trade books with other members. As with Netflix, you don't have to leave home to send and receive books. You can print out postage right from the site, and of course you receive books from other members by mail.
  • I love museums, but since I don't have the energy to go in person very often, I visit the world's museums from  my computer. A lot of museums, such as the State Hermitage or the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, have made a large part of their collections viewable online. Get a full list at Museum Stuff.And yes, I'm speaking as a computer geek, but why not try an online computer game? There are card games on Yahoo, massively multiplayer online role-playing games like World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings Online, and somewhere in between, sites like Big Fish Games for casual gamers.

Again, if you do it right, cocooning can be a positive thing as opposed to just hiding. At the same time, remember that spring is on its way, and you do need to emerge at some point. You might want to mentally gear up for getting out and about.