10 Tips for Better Mornings When Depressed
Mornings can be particularly difficult if you have depression. You often can’t sleep well, have lowered motivation, have trouble getting out of bed, and overall low energy due to depression which will all contribute to this very real problem. Some people’s depression is just worse in the morning. This is most likely due to the hormones of Melatonin, which helps you to feel sleepy, and cortisol, the stress hormone with also helps you to wake up. If these hormones are out of balance or are released at the wrong time, then your morning will be rough! But don’t let this stop you from doing what you need and want to get done! Check out below for tips for a better morning.
1. Improve your sleep through good sleep hygiene. I’ve already done a blog on this that you can check out here for more information on the topic.
2. Do NOT hit the snooze button! If you need more sleep, plan for it and set your alarm accordingly. Repeatedly hitting that snooze button can be very unmotivating for you! By the way, in general, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. We Americans are chronically sleep deprived, which can negatively affect our mood.
3. Create a morning routine. We humans really are creatures of habit and if you establish a routine, it can help you to get yourself out of bed and moving. And don’t forget to follow your new routine every day, including weekends! Your routine doesn’t have to be complicated, in fact, I believe that simpler is almost always better! Try something like:
a. Wake up
b. Morning stretch
e. Play with your dog (or cat!) for 10-15 min
f. Go to work
4. Add something enjoyable to your morning routine! Like playing with the dog, playing Wordle, dancing to your favorite song, going for a short walk, eating a big breakfast, etc. You get the idea! It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive, just something that you like and that might bring a smile to your face.
5. Build some extra time into your morning so you won’t be rushed and will have time to complete everything you want in the morning without adding stress.
6. Try some light exercise in the morning. Stretching, yoga, and taking a walk are all good examples of things to try. This will get your blood flowing and exercise has been shown to improve your mood by elevating your endorphins. It also has the added benefit of reducing the stress hormone cortisol.
7. Drink some water. We all know this is always a good idea, but when you wake up, you’ve just gone a good length of time without any, so keep an insulated water bottle by your bedside with either ice cold or nice and warm water with lemon to start your day right.
8. Try a light box. These have been proven to help people with SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) as well as other forms of depression. It is thought that the lights work because they mimic the sun’s light and decrease your Melatonin while increasing your Serotonin. Be sure to find one that has at least 10,000 lux, emits as little UV light as possible, and place it 16-24” from your face for 16-24 min each morning. Keep your eyes open during use, but feel free to do other activities while exposing yourself to the light such as reading, grooming tasks, or eating. Also, it is best to use the light in the first hour you wake up.
Before starting with a light, make sure to check with your doctor, especially if you have bipolar disorder or glaucoma, as it may be counter-indicated and cause you harm.
9. Try morning journaling. You can use this to set your intentions for the day or try a gratitude journal. Spending a little time each morning thing about things you’re grateful for has been proven to slightly improve your mood.
10. As soon as you get up, try thinking about food. This won’t work for everyone, but for some, this can be very motivating and help you to get out of bed. And then, try to eat a nutritious meal of whole foods such as berries and oatmeal or eggs and ham. Avoid the fast-food traps in favor of something that will nourish your body and maybe your soul too.
These tips are fairly general and although they may be helpful for everyone, they will not cure anyone of severe depression. I in no way mean to make light of the seriousness of depression or to minimize the feelings and suffering of those who have a depressive disorder.
If you would like to talk about depression treatment, please follow the link. I’d love to talk with you!