When you’re living with depression, the simplest things can feel like the biggest obstacles.
Whether it’s fixing yourself breakfast, getting your kids out the door, or simply getting out of bed, suddenly you can’t remember how you were ever able to do everything before.
As if that wasn’t enough, you also have to deal with the added symptoms of depression, such as a lack of concentration, fluctuations in weight, apathy, and sleep issues like fatigue and insomnia — or both.
So how do you get back on track? Well, targeting your depression itself is, as you know, a deeper battle that will probably require compassionate inner work. But as far as getting out of bed is concerned, we have a few tips to help you out!
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1. One step at a time.
When your main focus is simply getting out of bed at all, jumping out of bed is not a realistic goal. Instead, focus on the small act of sitting up.
Take it one step at a time. Prop yourself up with pillows, turn on some soft music, and slowly prepare yourself to start the day.
2. Give yourself a wake-up call.
We know, we know. This is not always a surefire solution, but it’s a start! If you have to, choose the most obnoxious ringtone in the bunch and place your phone across the room to help you get moving.
Though there will still be the temptation to crawl back under your sheets, do your best to leave your phone where it is — away from your bed — and have additional alarms in place to prevent you from staying there longer than you mean to.
Better yet, try out an alarm app that makes you solve a math problem or two. Or if you’re really desperate, try one of these rolling alarm clocks.
3. Let food do the talking.
If an alarm clock doesn’t do the trick, try focusing on food. This may be difficult if you’re dealing with appetite loss, but try to stock your pantry or fridge with foods you know you’ll be more excited to eat.
Whether it’s cereal, fruit and yogurt, or a helping of bacon and eggs, prepare them ahead of time to help you help yourself.
4. Focus on gratefulness.
“When you wake, begin with the thought, ‘What am I thankful for today?'” said Dr. Beatrice Tauber Prior, a clinical psychologist. “Then ask yourself to get up for the thing you are grateful for.”
Keep a notepad next to your bed to start your day by jotting down what you’re most grateful for. Maybe it’s your kids, the weather, a good book, your spouse, or a pet you can’t wait to cuddle. Remind yourself of the things that are worth getting out of bed for.
5. Make mornings exciting.
Build in a routine you can anticipate. Give yourself 15 minutes to catch up with friends on social media, do a 10-minute morning yoga stretch, or soak up some sunshine while drinking your coffee in the backyard.
Think of the things that would make you most exhilarated in the morning — and then do them!
6. Ask for support.
Seeking out a therapist can help you explore your deeper struggles, with the added benefit of receiving professional advice on how to get through day-to-day tasks.
If you’re struggling with depression-related sleep disorders or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), you could also try out bright light therapy. This type of therapy involves exposure to a light box mimicking natural sunlight. It can combat a lack of vitamin D due to depressive isolation, and as a bonus, one gaze in this light’s direction will wake you up very quickly!
Finally, look to your personal support system. Ask your partner or your roommates to sit with you in the morning over a cup of coffee, or ask a family member to call you for a five-minute chat at the start of the day. Don’t be afraid to seek help when you need it.
Remember that sometimes it’s also OK to stay in bed for a day. Take a mental health day for yourself and try again tomorrow. Know that this is a journey, not an overnight fix, and give yourself grace!
Keep battling your negative self-talk, and remind yourself that you will get there! Just take it one morning at a time.
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