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Creating an Effective Morning Routine with Depression

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When you’re living with high-functioning depression (like me), I’ve found that it can often be the little things that happen throughout the day that determine your mood.

That’s why it’s helpful for me to set myself up for success in the morning so I can build momentum and start off with a more positive mindset. Having a few key actions or routines that I can achieve each morning to kick off the day and help gain focus on my priorities can make all the difference.

Most important, however, is coming up with the right morning routine. In my experience, the way I spend the first few hours after waking up can really set the bar for how I’ll feel over the course of the day and how productive I am.

The following is what has worked for me. You’ll need to test these tips to find what works for you. Trust me, the time invested in the process will be well worth it. Nothing is better than waking up refreshed and able to hit the ground running.

Tips to win your morning

Do:

  • Get out of bed as soon as you wake up. This will help you to avoid dipping back into sleep (which may make you even more groggy than before) or staying in bed so long that you lose time for the rest of your routine. Don’t give in to the urge to hit the snooze button!
  • Drink a big glass of water right after waking up. If you’re well hydrated, you may be less likely to feel that morning grogginess that can put you in a bad mood.
  • Integrate a short session of meditation, yoga, stretching, or cardio exercise at the start of your day. This will help to wake you up, get you grounded in your body, and avoid missing exercise or mindfulness later in the day for a lack of time or energy. I’ve found that even as little as 5 or 10 minutes can make a big difference!
  • Seek out a trusted friend to be an accountability partner for you. If you’re both interested in waking up earlier or setting better habits for the morning, you can text or call each other and check in to make sure you’re both on track.

Don’t:

  • Go on your phone to check your email or social media while in bed. If you can, try to avoid looking at your phone (or using it excessively) for the first few hours of your day. We all have our different preferences and ways that we use our devices, but the key is to avoid falling into a reactionary state early in the day. If you can focus on today’s task right away and get it done, then that non-urgent email can wait.
  • Leave your meals left to a last minute rush, filling your body with lots of empty calories or extra sugars. Plan out and be intentional with your breakfast, whether it’s a big meal or quick smoothie. Make sure that your mind and body have enough nutrients and energy to get through the day.
  • Leave yourself with too little time in the morning to get everything ready before you leave for the day. Having to rush in the morning sparks and fuels my anxiety, which sets the tone for the rest of the day and often makes me more susceptible to triggers later on. Wake up with enough time to allow yourself to be more relaxed in your morning routine.

Takeaway

When creating your morning routine, keep it simple. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Focus on one tactic first and build consistency. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself to the point of anxiety (the irony here is too real).

In addition to working with my doctor, so much of what I do to manage my depression and anxiety comes back to the fundamentals of keeping a healthy lifestyle. Get enough sleep, eat well, drink lots of water, and find ways to express yourself and clear your mind. And don’t forget to move your body and sweat often!

There’s no need to strive for perfection and get down on yourself if you miss a habit.

Sometimes, that means catching myself when I feel overly frustrated or lacking in energy during the day. I’ll have a mini check-in with myself to shift things around, try complete a habit that I might have missed earlier in the day — whether that’s a short walk, a few minutes of mindfulness, or finishing something that I’ve put off — and get back on track.

Each new morning is an opportunity for a fresh start. Are you ready?

DEPR-US-NP-00041 NOVEMBER  2018