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10 Things to Try When You’re Too Depressed to Get Out of Bed

If I had to describe my relationship with my bed, I'd say it’s…complicated. It’s my favorite place to rest and recover when the world and my feelings are too much—yes, bed rotting is a legitimate form of self-care—but it can also be a bona fide mood ring. The more time I spend in it, the longer it’s been since I’ve made it, the nastier the sheets are, and the worse I’m doing. And, of course, if I’m struggling to get out of it in the first place—well, that’s a pretty normal day for a lot of us with depression.

There are a bunch of reasons why this condition can make clawing yourself out of bed feel like an Olympic sport. For one, fatigue and sleep disturbances (including insomnia or sleeping too much) are common symptoms of depression. Add feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and emptiness to that list—along with a loss of interest in things you used to enjoy—and impossible mornings aren’t exactly surprising. Not to mention all the usual reasons many of us, depressed or not, aren’t exactly raring to vault from sleep into our daily routines—hi, dark mornings, packed to-do lists, and the general state of the world. It’s a wonder we can get up at all some days.

So what do you do when leaving your bed is a requirement of, you know, life? We’ve asked 19 people with depression for tips that actually work for them, including little hacks that make it easier to get up and practical changes that make it impossible not to. Here’s hoping at least one makes your mornings a little more manageable.

1. Move your body before you get up. Like, a lot.

“I force myself to move every muscle in my body around—kicking my legs, lifting my torso up, basically as much physical activity as I can do without actually leaving the bed—until I feel energized enough to get out from under my covers.” —D.A., 29

2. Experiment with various alarms to find out what works.

“I used to use the Alarmy app, specifically the ‘mission’ that requires you to scan a barcode on a household item to turn the alarm off. I would have that barcode set to my coffee creamer, which was downstairs in my fridge. And at that point, I had coffee creamer in my hand and might as well make coffee. Then it was a domino effect of, ‘Well I’m here, might as well…’ until I was ready for the day. However, I discovered I could restart my phone to silence it and, Welp, it hasn’t worked since. So I tried AMdroid for Android users. There’s a setting that does not allow you to restart your phone. Yay!” —Emily A., 28

“I use the Sleep Cycle alarm clock app because I can hit snooze a lot but not actually be late to start my day—because the snooze interval decreases each time you press it.” —Kelsie T.

“I bought an old-school alarm clock (one of the very loud ones with bells on top), and I’ll set it at night and place it all the way on the other side of the room. Being forced to wake up and walk across my bedroom to turn it off is one of the only things that stops me from hitting snoozing repeatedly and lying in bed staring at the ceiling.” —Blair H.

3. Keep your necessary supplies far, far away.

“I keep my SNRI downstairs so that I actually get up to take it. Once I’m up, it’s like, Well, I’ll use the bathroom and make coffee. Then it’s, I guess I’d better eat or my meds will hurt my stomach. Oh, and I don’t pick up my phone first thing, or I won’t get up.” —Evelynn F.

4. Reward yourself for throwing off your covers.

“Rewarding myself with a nice drink—like an herbal tea or comforting mug of coffee—gives me the motivation to get up, and makes the morning feel less bleak when I’m having a hard time. I have something to look forward to that feels like a luxury.” —Von G., 28

“I keep my vibrator on the other side of the room. Using it is my reward for getting out of bed.” —Madison B., 28

“I’ll seek out warmth in another cozy, womb-like space: the shower. This will then sort of force me to move on to making hard-boiled eggs and coffee, which I also enjoy. Really, it’s just the opportunity to experience pleasant sensations that gets me up.” —Hannah Meyer, 27

“I try to have little treats waiting for my morning self. I’ll buy a new brand of fluffy waffles, a new candle for my morning shower, or even prep an area to try a new stretching routine.” —Lille A., 27

5. Chug water for a makeshift alarm.

“It’s not groundbreaking, but when I wake up in the middle of the night, I drink water so I need to pee first thing in the morning. And like, badly enough that it cannot be ignored upon waking. Once I’m up from that, I can usually parlay that into other morning functions.” —Anna H.

6. Do a morning meditation from bed.

“There’s this meditation from Buddhify that helps on tough days. You go back to a memory of something you did that makes you proud (like, for me, getting an A in a class I thought I’d bombed, or helping a girl out of a river when she’d gotten pulled under the current), try to feel it in detail, and then remember that person is still in you. It helps me be kinder to myself and realize that maybe today my greatest achievement is toasting frozen waffles, lost in the pointlessness of it all, but on other days, it feels really good to be alive, and it’s worth it to stick around for another chance at a good moment or two.” —W.B., 40

7. Do a little legwork the night before.

“Having an outfit or article of clothing I’m excited to wear is the thing that works most consistently for me. I thrift a lot and I also have a Nuuly subscription, which isn’t cheap but helps a lot to maintain novelty in my wardrobe and keep me excited about my clothes. I try to lay out an outfit the night before or at least put one piece of clothing in my line of sight from bed. It also helps reduce the decision-paralysis that makes it harder to get up.” —Isabel R., 28

“I do a few things before bed to help my mornings feel less overwhelming. I keep my medication and a glass of water on my nightstand, lay out a fun outfit that I’m excited to put on in the morning, keep my phone (and therefore my alarm) a little more than arm’s reach away so I have to get up to silence it, and have plenty of premade breakfast options available, such as fruit, instant oatmeal, granola bars, and smoothies. —Carol C., 33

8. Recruit a buddy.

“My friend and I take turns calling each other at 7:15 and being like, ‘You get out of bed. No, you get out of bed.’ We do this two to three times a week.” —Emma S., 37

9. Or care for a furry friend.

“My pets get me out of bed every morning by loudly demanding breakfast. My dog quite literally gets up in my face and my cat screams and knocks things over. The only way to calm them down is to drag myself out of bed and fill their bowls. I adopted them to help me with my mental health and to establish a sense of daily routine, and boy, they both take their job very seriously!” —Marinda Valenti, 33

“I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2013 and got set up with a shelter that pairs pets with folks living with PTSD. They basically match what you need to the animal’s personality. I needed a reason to get out of bed, something to focus on and keep me going. My cat, Figaro, was classified as ‘Leader of the Band.’ She’s chatty, follows me around, and is in my business all the time! It was a great change—if I couldn’t get out of bed for myself, I could do it for her. She saved my life." —Aiden T. 33

10. Finally, lower your wake-up requirements.

“I have a rule that even if I immediately flop onto the sofa afterward, I have to at least get up, put on clothes (even if that’s just sweatpants), and make my bed. Sometimes, I spend the rest of the day on the sofa—but I’m not in bed, which feels like an important distinction. Other times, giving myself permission to retreat to the couch is enough, and I don’t actually need to. Just knowing it’s always an option helps a lot.” —Victoria S.

“I often find the idea of ‘just one thing’ to be very useful. On my worst days, everything is incredibly overwhelming and I get decision paralysis really easily, so I tell myself, I just need to do one thing. Often, that first thing is just ‘go to the bathroom.’ I don’t need to brush my teeth or hair, or look in the mirror, or think about what’s next—I just have to go to the bathroom. Once I’ve done that one thing, I can do another thing. I take it one (small) step at a time, and I try to remind myself that I can stop whenever I need to.” —Anonymous

“‘Be sad but get up’ really helps me as a mantra. I think what resonates so strongly is that it gives me permission to be sad, depressed, in a terrible mood, un-showered, in gross sweatpants, etc.—all I have to do is get up. Then at least there’s a chance of something lifting my mood.” —Lydia W., 27

The original article can be found on SELF US.

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