Depression Got You Stuck? Try Giving Up Zero Days


Sometimes help can come from the strangest places. Back in November of 2013, a user on the Get Disciplined subreddit reached out to share a problem: they didn’t care about themselves. Nothing could really help them get motivated — not friends, not school, not long-term goals.

If you’ve spent time coping with major depression, that might be a familiar feeling. Trying to get out of it can feel like a pit that just keeps getting deeper, too, because helping yourself is tough when you can’t bring yourself to care.

Now, the best thing you can do in that position is talk to a professional — treatments like CBT are designed to help people move through those exact situations. You can also reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline if you’re having a bad time — it’s not just there for suicide-related crises, despite the name.

But if you just want a good, solid nudge, you might want to check out the advice that long-ago redditor received from user Ryans01, because it’s advice that’s made a big difference for a lot of people. It starts with a commitment to no more zero days.

Rule numero uno – There are no more zero days. What’s a zero day? A zero day is when you don’t do a single f*cking thing towards whatever dream or goal or want or whatever that you got going on. No more zeros. I’m not saying you gotta bust an essay out everyday, that’s not the point. The point I’m trying to make is that you have to make yourself, promise yourself, that the new SYSTEM you live in is a NON-ZERO system.

Didnt’ do anything all f*cking day and it’s 11:58 PM? Write one sentence. One pushup. Read one page of that chapter. One. Because one is non zero. You feel me? When you’re in the super vortex of being bummed your pattern of behaviour is keeping the vortex goin, that’s what you’re used to. Turning into productivity ultimate master of the universe doesn’t happen from the vortex. It happens from a massive string of CONSISTENT NON ZEROS. That’s rule number one. Do not forget.

The comment went viral, picking up over 10,000 upvotes over the years and spawning a busy subreddit of its own. The NonZeroDay subreddit follows four rules taken from Ryan’s comment:

1. No More Zero Days
Promise yourself that you will do one thing every day that takes you one step closer to your goal(s)
2. Be Grateful To The Three “You”s
Past Self: Thank your past self for the favours they did for you
Present Self: Do your future self a favour – they deserve it!
Future Self: Your absolute best friend, and a great person.
3. Forgive Yourself
It’s okay to f*ck up. Forgive your past self, and be a better friend for your future self.
4. Exercise and Books
Get your heart rate up and try to read when you can. Also the easiest way to avoid a Zero Day!

Over 25,000 redditors subscribe to the subreddit, sharing their experiences, insights and support.While Ryan’s rules didn’t come with scientific backing, they’re certainly supported by science. Self-forgiveness can help us give up procrastination. Having gratitude for our past, present and future selves is beneficial to self-esteem. Building habits can make a big difference for your willpower, even if they’re relatively small habits.

So if you feel like you’ve just wasted the day away, try making it a non-zero day by taking a single step toward a single goal. Do it for your future self if today’s self doesn’t feel worth the effort, and you might just look back in thanks when things get a little easier.

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