By Barbara Pierce
Whether it’s stress, depression, anxiety or lack of sleep, there are times when getting out of bed in the morning feels overwhelming. You just can’t do it.
“It happens, especially this time of year, with less sunlight and colder temperatures and the stress of the holidays,” said Jim Davis, CEO, Samaritan Counseling Center of the Mohawk Valley.
Davis offers these suggestions on how to get up and get going when it feels impossible:
• Get into a routine: “Develop a morning routine that you do automatically,” he suggested. “Set your alarm. When it goes off, don’t hit the snooze button. Instead put your alarm across the room so you have to get out of bed and move to turn it off.”
When you hit the snooze button, the fragmented sleep you get isn’t beneficial for you anyway. And can cause you to feel foggy and tired all day.
Get out of bed at the same time every day, even if you haven’t sleep much during the night, then shower, drink your coffee, eat something. Routine does help; our brains like routine.
Athlete Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, speaks out about his mental health challenges. Sticking with routines, putting emphasis on eating and sleeping well are important for his mental health.
“Whenever I get out of a routine, I kind of spiral down,” he said online.
• Moving or exercise is always good for those days you feel down, said Davis. “Even a five-minute walk around the block will give you energy.”
Once you’re in motion, it’s often easier to stay in motion.
• Get outside: If you just can’t walk for even five minutes, start small, just step outside, onto your porch or backyard. Being outside is good for you; sunlight increases the feel-good chemicals in your brain. Sunlight is powerful stuff. Even a few minutes outside can help.
• Connect with others: Being around people is good. Ask a friend to meet you. Or, just go hang around where there are other people; even being around strangers helps. Resist the temptation to isolate yourself.
• “Eat healthy,” continued Davis. “Don’t eat too much, or too little; have a routine that includes meal times, three times a day.”
What you eat does impact on how you feel.
Like an expensive car, your brain functions best when it gets premium fuel.
Researchers found that people who eat a lot of red meat, sweets, potatoes and don’t eat a lot of fruit and vegetables have an increased risk of depression. They aren’t sure which comes first: a poor diet or depression. But they are sure that eating the right food helps.
Consider Vitamin D supplements; some find they help.
• Music: It’s hard to feel down when you’ve got a tempo beating from your speakers. Turn on a fast–paced sound track. Move to the music if you can, even if all you can do is sway or clap.
• Take one step at a time: If the day feels overwhelming, don’t focus on it. Focus on the moment. Give yourself a “next step” goal. Tell yourself you only need to get to the shower. When you accomplish that, tell yourself you only need to get dressed, then make breakfast.
• Remind yourself: You’ve likely felt this way before. And you overcame it. Remind yourself of that. Remember what helped you get through it in the past and try the same things again.
• “Think mind-body-spirt,” suggested Davis. “It’s important to take care of your mind, your body, and your spiritual side. Connect with your spiritual resources.”
If you’re seriously depressed, feeling hopeless and have no motivation, do seek counseling services to get you through. “Talk with a counselor, get medication or a combination.” Davis advised
Most of us go through days of feeling down, but if you continue to feel sad and hopeless for weeks or months, you may be seriously depressed. Signs that you may be seriously depressed include feelings of hopelessness — lack of hope that your life will ever get better, than you’ll ever feel better; lack of interest in the things you used to enjoy; irritability; using alcohol or drugs to help you get through the day; sleeping too much or too little; eating too much or too little; thoughts of wanting to die.
Some people think depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They’re wrong; it’s a real illness with real symptoms. It’s not something you can snap out of or ‘pull yourself together.’
“If you’re in danger of hurting yourself or feel suicidal, call the ‘Mobile Crisis Assessment Team’ or go to the ER,” said Davis.
The Mobile Crisis Assessment Team is available to anyone seeking crisis intervention services in Oneida, Herkimer, Schoharie, Otsego, Delaware and Chenango counties. Call 315-732-6228 or 844-732-6228, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.