Spoon Theory: 5 Tips on Helping Someone with a Mental Health Illness or Disability

by | Dec 9, 2022

You may be hearing the phrase “I don’t have the spoons right now” and wondering what that means, especially if you’ve invited them to a holiday gathering.

“Spoon Theory” comes from Christine Miserandi, who lives with Lupus, and centers around a way to explain boundaries that others may not understand when living without a disability.

The Spoon Theory explains that personal energy is not limitless, and for some they start each day with a limited amount of energy or “spoons”. When living with a disability or mental health illness, day to day activities take up a lot of spoons, leaving little energy for those extra social events and tasks.

While the person in your life living with a disability may want to attend every holiday event and spend time with their friends and family, it is important to understand that these activities can be costly and they may not have the spoons to spare.

young black woman texting on couch at christmas


The next question then is: How do I support the people in my life that are living with a disability or mental health illness?

Here are 5 Tips on Helping Someone with a Mental Health Illness or Disability:

Continue to reach out. Keep inviting them to your events while also being understanding if they can’t always make it. While there may be days that events or extra activities aren’t within their ability, nobody wants to be excluded.

Go to them. Traveling and attending events where there may not be accessibility can cause a lot of stress. Try planning a get together where you can come to them or to a place they are familiar with.

Make your events accessible. Talk to your friends and family with disabilities about the things they need to have an event be accessible to them.

Check in. The holidays can be a difficult time for many people. A simple check-in can let your loved ones know you see their struggle and are there for them.

Talk about it. There can be a lot of stigma surrounding disabilities and mental health illness. Be open to feedback from the people in your life living with disabilities about how to best support them and be inclusive within your social circle.

For more information about Spoon Theory, check out Christine Miserandi’s blog.

young black woman doing telehealth from couch on laptop

If you or someone you love needs to talk to a licensed professional therapist, please contact us for an appointment. Our counseling team is always here for you, providing convenient tele-health therapy from the comfort of your couch.


  1. Vicki Brooker

    I love this. I live with a mental illness and some days are just hard. On those days self care is about all I can manage. Sometimes I feel guilty and I neglect caring for myself to try to please others. That always bites me in the butt. Thanks for this article. It’s a good reminder for me, and good information for others.

    • Kevin Lewis

      We are so glad you found this helpful. Have a happy New Year!

    • Kevin Lewis

      Hi Vicki, glad you are interested in learning more. If you’re not already signed up for our monthly blog/newsletter, be sure to. We are looking to do another web-based workshop early in 2023. We’ll be updating with new content!


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