Coping with Morning Depression

For those who suffer from depression, mornings are often the worst time. Once the day gets started, a person’s mood usually lifts and energy will return. But those first few moments of having to adjust to a day when everything feels bleak is beyond challenging. Here are 6 proven ways to make depressing mornings easier!

1.  Use Light to Wake Up

I’ve written before about how it’s easier to get out of bed in the morning if you can use light, and not just an audible alarm, to wake you up. You can buy a fancy light alarm clock, or get an inexpensive timer at your hardware store and plug your bedside table lamp into it.  Either way, waking up to a lighted room is easier and much less depressing, especially during winter.

2.  Stock Your Bedside Table

Here’s what to put within arm’s reach of your bed:  a glass of water, your psychotropic medication(s) in a little cup, and a low-sugar protein/energy bar. When your alarm goes off, you open that protein bar and eat it, then take your meds.  Yes, you’ve got to set it up the night before.  It will be worth it. You don’t have to get out from under your nice, warm blankets to let your meds start working and get your blood sugar stabilized to help your mood.

3.  Get an Emotional Uplift

Starting the day with depression requires that you put other, more positive thoughts into your mind as soon as possible.  Have a book or list of positive affirmations, or other inspirational material on your bedside table to give your mind a helping hand up. Need some ideas?  Positive Affirmations

4.  Get Moving ASAP!

It’s the last thing you want to do when you are depressed.  It also just happens to be the best thing you can do:  Move!  Go get your favorite caffeine delivery system (coffee or tea) unless that will cause anxiety symptoms to worsen. Then hit the treadmill, bike, or take a walk. Depression can increase body aches and pain, so if it hurts to move, just stay in bed or drop to the floor and do some gentle stretching. Movement makes a huge difference in your ability to effectively cope with depression.

5.  Don’t Think

What I mean by “Don’t Think” is that morning is not a good time for you to ask yourself if you really want to get up much less ponder the meaning of it all.  This is true for everyone! Morning is not a time to engage your brain. Just go on autopilot for the first hour or so: take your meds, read your affirmations, move your body, get some caffeine, make your bed,  head to the shower, and get dressed.  Then you can think. Forward movement begets more forward movement, so that’s all we’re looking for… not good answers as to why you should get up. Those will come later!

6.  Plan for Mornings at Night

You can see that if you’re going to have an easier time in the morning, it helps to set things up the night before.  This is a secret shared by most highly functional people, and you can use it even when depressed. Put out your water, pills, protein bar, affirmations, and workout clothes the night before.  Set your coffeemaker to go off when you want your first cup. Make it easy on yourself. It’s hard enough coping with depression. You deserve to not have it any harder.

DrAnita Sanz, PhD, Psychologist

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