Being curled up in a blanket burrito with my laptop and some Trader Joe’s munchies can be the most comforting thing when going through a particularly harsh phase of depression. In the 5 years since I was diagnosed with Major Depression, there have been countless classes missed, social events cancelled, and sunny days wasted due to my lethargy & indifference to the things going on in the outside world.
Anyone who has suffered from a form of depression- whether it be Seasonal Affective Disorder, MDD or Dysthymia- can relate to this feeling. Sometimes the fear of facing anything or anyone is so strong that it can prevent us from leaving the comfort of our beds for hours, even days at a time. There’s no quick fix for the intense fatigue and mental exhaustion that accompanies depression, but here are few tricks I’ve learned for taking those first steps onto the hardwood:
1. Set ONE alarm, with no snooze.
This may seem like a given, but setting a single alarm with no “mom, wake me up later!!!” option is one of the easiest ways to rip the sheets off. When I’m going through a dark period, I’m often temped to set multiple alarms in 15 or 30 minute increments, which gives me a little leeway in terms of when I need to get up- but this leeway often results in me never leaving my bed at all. If you train yourself to get up at the first sound of an alarm, your body clock will thank you.
2. Make your bed.
Many people with depression feel too exhausted to clean or bother with keeping their room spotless. But making your bed in the morning as soon as you get up is a great way to deter yourself from getting right back in. I try to do it as soon as I get dressed- seeing my pillows and stuffed animals all nice ‘n neat is pretty effective in dissuading me from that 4-hour nap.
3. Create a playlist
We all have those few songs in our iTunes library that make us want to sing our lungs out and bust some ~swaggg~ moves to. Is it One Direction? Awesome. An early Smashing Pumpkins single? Great. Make a playlist of your fav anthems to put on in the morning when you’re temped to just stay in- after a few tracks you’ll be ~~~~~~dancing~~~~~~ your way off the mattress ((sorry for that)).
4. Get yourself some delicious breakfast food
Nothing gets me moving in the morning like the smell of Brown Sugar Poptarts fresh from the toaster oven. Find your breakfast groove, whatever will motivate you to start your day. Extra brownie points if you can find something tasty that also has protein, it’ll keep you full and help counteract your lethargy and mental fatigue symptoms.
5. Have your TV/Netflix/Tumblr sessions on the couch or your desk
This one’s by far the hardest to manage, but TRUST ME it makes a difference. Separating your media usage and your bed cushions can do wonders for your sleep habits, and it’s a great way to counteract the urge to lie in bed for hours. No need to give up you Game of Thrones addiction altogether, just watch in the living room instead. This can decrease your impulse to binge sleep & with diligence can actually help you have a more meaningful sleep when it is time to hit the sack. Living room = living. Bed = sleeping.
*Disclaimer: These tips are by no means a universal fix. Sometimes, you need to have that time to hide and be alone to deal with extreme depressive symptoms. We all have days where we literally just can’t, and that’s okay.