Sometimes getting out of the bed in the morning can be one of the hardest things to do when you live with mental illness. Whether it’s down to fatigue or because you’re depressed and don’t feel motivated, it can feel like climbing a mountain to get your day started.
Over the years I’ve established a morning routine which helps mornings feel a little more manageable.
1. Set an alarm 10 minutes earlier than you need to get out of bed
I know that for some people, jumping straight out of bed when their alarm goes off helps them to wake up. I find the opposite is true for me. Setting an alarm and knowing that I have to get up right away is too much for me. It takes me a while to combat fatigue, to get my eyes fully open and gain full awareness of my surroundings. I like to give myself 10 to 15 minutes before I need to get up so I don’t feel rushed. I may just lie and think about the day ahead, or I may have a little play around on my phone once I feel able.
2. Use one of your favourite happy songs for your alarm
I find that linking my alarm to my Spotify account and using one of my favourite, upbeat songs for my alarm is much more comforting than just a beeping or another random sound (which I tend to find really grating). Having a song that reminds me of happy times or makes me feel good to wake me up, helps to set the mood for the day.
3. Make sure you have plenty of time to relax and practice self-care once you’re up
Once I’m awake, I don’t want to have to jump in the shower and get ready for the day straight away. I find that too much for my body and mind. I prefer to get up earlier so I can take my time in the morning. I like to make time to enjoy my breakfast, to spend a bit of time with my dogs and maybe watch a bit of TV. Then I like to take my time to get ready so that I can take breaks in between tasks if I need to. I also really enjoy doing my makeup, that’s something that brings me joy, so I try to make time to do that each day if I can.
4. Plan a tasty breakfast the night before
Knowing that I have something nice to eat the next morning makes me feel more motivated to get out of bed. It’s really something to look forward to about getting up. It doesn’t have to be something unhealthy to be tasty (although if I’m having a really bad week I might treat myself to pastries or chocolate spread in the morning).
5. Do your best to get washed and dressed even if you don’t have plans
Even though I work from home, I always do my best to get washed and dressed. If I stay in my pyjamas, then I feel like I’m just ready to go back to bed and am far more likely to nap during the day. I feel like even on days when I don’t have plans, getting up and dressed really helps me to be in a more awake, motivated mindset for the day.
6. Set goals to reach the night before for the following day
For me, I find that setting out a plan for the following day and having goals that I want to achieve really helps to have a structure to my day. I know that I need to tick certain things off my list before the day is out and that keeps me feeling proactive. This is especially important for me because I work from home, but is something I would try to do even when previously I wasn’t working.
Last but not least I want to say that one of the most important things with a morning routine (or any routine you are trying to implement) is not to be too hard on yourself. You aren’t going to always be able to keep up with every aspect of your routine. Even mentally healthy people have off days. If you can’t do every step, what matters is that you tried. Whatever you can do each day, if you tried your best, is more than enough.