Why is that that the mornings can be especially difficult?
I’m not talking about waking up feeling sleepy (though that certainly doesn’t help matters at all). I’m talking about waking up feeling like you want to crawl in a hole. As soon as you open your eyes, the tears are ready to just erupt. Your stomach feels queasy (and you’re not pregnant).
Within a split second of opening your eyes, you wonder, “Is this really happening? Or was it a nightmare?”
Maybe you’ve just experienced a break-up or the loss of someone you love. You may have even lost a job, or found out some debilitating news about your health. But whatever the cause, you may find that the mornings are the hardest part of the day.
Why is that? Why do mornings have to be so hard?
It can feel like a cruel joke of the universe to wake up and then be hit by a ton of bricks.
To understand what’s going on, let’s back up a few steps.
When you wake up, you’re leaving the land of sleep and transitioning back into the “real world.” Sleep is an essential function for your body to not only rest, but to recharge it’s battery (you know how far you get with a laptop or cell phone that hasn’t been charged). Along with that, your body is able to repair damaged cells (this is one of the reasons why you sleep when you are sick).
You also dream. “Dreams are our world upside down,” at least according to a line from the once famous TV show Everwood. When you dream, your brain has a bit of fun playing Steven Spielburg. Things you’ve imagined, things you’ve experienced in the past, fantasies that have yet to happen, and even fears are acted out in a collage that’s thrown together without any rhyme or reason quite often.
So you wake up refreshed and feeling great, only to remember, “Gee! My life actually sucks. Let me retire those happy chirping birds that are circling around my head.”
And then reality comes crashing down like a house in The Wizard of Oz. No easing into it. Just BAM!
Or, maybe you open your eyes and you don’t feel completely refreshed. You tossed and turned all night long. You had nightmares with bits and pieces of every calamity that’s ever happened to you. It felt more like an excerpt of a Stephen King novel.
Either way- when you open your eyes, things go to h-e-double-hockey-sticks in a hurry because you went from being semi-out of it to the reality that is your life in a matter of milliseconds as your brain resets itself from its sleep state to its awake state.
There are a few other things at play, too. Not just sleep.
For one, your body has been fasting for a while. Now, you are in need of some vitamins that will help get your body flowing again, and will right your body’s production of hormones, nutrients, and neurotransmitters that will help ease things up a bit.
Don’t go skimpy on the B vitamins, especially Vitamins B6 and B12.
And low-carb? Forget that. Get some carbs, too, while you’re at it. Carbs can help with your body’s production and regulation of the chemical serotonin. (To really help that process, eat a balanced diet that has some protein and a tiny bit of fat in it, too.)
Not to mention, your brain needs the glucose from carbs to function. Yup, that’s right, your brain uses most of your body’s sugar in it’s tasks to keep your heart beating, your food moving through your system, and your thoughts going so you can take tests at school and attend meetings at work and keep the kids from hurting themselves. There’s a lot going on inside your head, so help it out by giving it some good food.
Here are some tips to try for those less-than-ideal mornings when you feel like hibernating into next year:
- Allow yourself plenty of rest the night before.
- If you can sleep in a bit later, do it. Waking up well-rested makes a huge difference.
- Have a morning routine- even if you’re feeling depressed. It can be slower or more mellow if needed.
- Do only what you have to do, unless you’re inclined to throw yourself into a project or task that will help to take your mind off of things.
- Nibble on something. Keep some crackers by the bed to munch on if you feel nauseous when you first wake up.
- Engage in an activity that helps to “pull out” some of those painful thoughts. Some people journal. Some go for a run or go to the gym. Some walk their dogs. Some read their Bible or participate in a daily devotional. Others meditate or do the sun salutation (yoga).
- Make a list of three things that have to get done today. Three is do-able (unless it’s something like going to the moon or building an entire house- be real with your list). Completing those three things will help you to feel productive and less like depression has come in and completely taken over your life. You have a say-so.
- Decide if there’s anyone you can talk to, from a trusted friend, to your mom, to someone like me- don’t hold it all in. You’re not alone. (And you’re definitely not the only person who’s ever felt like this. PROMISE.)
- Schedule some time later in the day that you can allow yourself to feel your pain. Not too long. Fifteen to thirty minutes is more than enough to deal with it. Running from your pain can make it stretch out longer sometimes. Learning to “schedule” your depression will help you learn how to control and manage it- giving you more power.
- MOVE! No, you don’t have to run a marathon. But movement is on the most effective cures for depression on the planet. Just the act of taking a shower or getting dressed in something other than the pajamas you’ve been in for the past four days will have a HUGE impact on your mood and your day.
- Reach out and touch someone. (Do you remember that old commercial?) It can be a tummy rub on your dog, a hug from your roommate, a handshake with your boss or a client, or a high-five with a student. Touch is magical!
- Go to it!
- Let me know how it goes!