Whether we are facing depression or anxiety, love to sleep, or are just plain exhausted, we all have days where it is hard to find the willpower to get out of bed in the morning. The rigors of school, work, parenthood, and life may be all too daunting, and we end up staying in bed or indoors all day. Keep reading for ways to help make those rough mornings a little more bearable.
Are you a morning person? I will be the first to tell you that I am absolutely not. I love and cherish my sleep. But I also love a beautiful sunrise, the crisp morning air, and the quiet stillness of the city before everyone else wakes up. Some mornings are easier to pull myself out of bed than others. Have you ever had a morning where all you want to do is stay in bed all day? To some degree, we all struggle leaving our warm, comfortable beds in the morning–but it is especially challenging for those facing a mental illness. In this blog post I will give some counsel to help make those tough mornings a little easier.
Many of us lack motivation in the morning. We find it hard to get out of bed, get dressed, take care of our children or put in a full day’s work. This lack of motivation is exacerbated for those struggling with a mental illness such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder, personality disorders, trauma and eating disorders. In a previous blog post I explained how a mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feelings, mood, ability to relate to others and function each day. Mental illness is much more common than many of us think; 1 in 5 adults in the United States experiences mental illness in a given year (and anyone is susceptible, regardless of age, gender, income, social status, race/ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or background)!
This article is intended for all readers, not just those who face mental illness. As I previously stated, we all have days where we would rather stay in bed all day and not face life. So what can we do when we find ourselves dreading getting up for the day?
- Build a routine.
Building a routine is incredibly helpful to maintain stability and avoid unexpected stressors! Here are a few ideas:
- Go to bed and wake up around the same time each day.
- Have a morning ritual. Start with something you love like a warm beverage or a hot shower); be in control of your mood (if you start off on the wrong side of the bed, recognize that you have the ability to change that!); eat a nutritious breakfast; go to the gym (you will feel better all day if you just get it over with!); send a thank-you email to someone; plan how you will react to challenges you may face during the day; kiss someone you love; etc.
- Get ready for the day. Even if you are unemployed or have no set plans to leave your house, get ready. Shower, brush your teeth, apply makeup, get dressed, etc. It increases feelings of productivity and also boosts confidence!
- Structure your time. Being employed and working steady hours each day helps tremendously. Then, when you are not working, use your free time wisely; set goals and have places to be and things to do. Knowing that you have somewhere to be makes getting out of bed easier than if you have no commitments or engagements.
- Take your medication and/or supplements. If you have been prescribed medication, have a set time each day to take it. It is there to help you. If you are experiencing side effects or want to considering changing your dosage, talk to your doctor.
- Have a consistent end-of-day routine. Just like children, adults thrive off of routines. Signal to your brain that bedtime is approaching by consistently doing the same things before bed–it could be watching your favorite show after dinner, reading, taking a hot bath, brushing your teeth, meditating, praying, writing in your journal, etc.
- Give yourself a time limit.
Try the 3600 second challenge–basically, you have an hour from waking up to get out of bed. Literally set a time you need to be up and compete with yourself to meet that goal. Ellyse Rafferty, writer of mental health from The Mighty recommends 60 minutes, and calls it “the one hour rule”:
- Give yourself an hour to get up. With 60 minutes or 3600 seconds you can try to muster the inner strength to get up and bravely face reality.
- Applaud yourself for baby steps. Some mornings you may get up from your bed only to make it onto the floor or into the shower. But that is progress.
- Know your limits. Some days it is okay to stay in bed if that is what you truly need (this could be true when getting over an illness, recovering from overworking, raising energetic children, or even after moving).
You may find that setting a time limit will motivate you enough to move quicker than you would without having a goal set in place. You really can do a lot with 3600 seconds!
Having a routine in place and giving yourself a time limit are simple tools that can work hand in hand to help make those hard mornings a little smoother. Try these suggestions! I have found that they work in my life, and I am certain adding more structure to your life and using a time limit can help you get going in the morning. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you or someone you care about needs extra coaching–either with establishing a routine or dealing with a mental illness. Remember, mental illness is not a life sentence. You can do this one morning, one hour, one second at a time. I am always here to help!
(**A note for those facing mental illness: Although these two tips will greatly help, they are not intended to replace the need for therapy, support groups or when necessary, medication. Please consult with a trained, certified therapist if you believe you may be struggling with anxiety, depression or other mental health issues.)
Melissa Cluff is a licensed therapist based in Lewisville, Texas, personally seeing clients in the North Dallas area.
Barking Up the Wrong Tree: “Morning Ritual: The 7 Steps That Will Make You Happy All Day”
Cluff Counseling: “Choosing the Right Therapist for You”
Cluff Counseling: “Taking the Stigma Out of Mental Illness”
HereToHelp: “Dealing with a Mental Illness Diagnosis”
The Mighty: “The ‘One Hour Rule’ I Use on Days When Mental Illness Makes It Hard to Get Out of Bed”
Mayo Clinic: “Coping and Support”
National Alliance on Mental Illness: “Mental Health by the Numbers”
National Alliance on Mental Illness: “Mental Health Conditions”
PsychCentral: “Building a Routine When You Have Bipolar Disorder”