Legs in pajama pants laying in bed. Text reads: 24 things to do when depression won't let you get up in the morning

24 Things to Do When Depression Won't Let You Get Up in the Morning


The alarm buzzes, beeps or sings — and it’s your cue to get up for the day. Whether you allow yourself a few extra warm minutes under the covers or need to spring out of bed to get to class in time — when you need to, you’re probably able to get out of bed and start your day, even if you’re a little grumpy about it.

But for many people with depression, this “simple” act of getting up in the morning is more than an inconvenience because you just want “five more minutes” — it can feel nearly impossible. When you’re struggling with depression, it’s sometimes not a matter of when you start your day, but the fact that you have to start you day at all. But just because you have trouble getting out of bed doesn’t mean you’re “useless” or that the day is ruined. To find out what can be done when the weight of depression tries to keep you in bed, we asked our mental health community to share one thing they can do when it’s hard to get up in the morning.

Here’s what they shared with us: 

1. “When depression makes it hard to get out of bed I try to give myself a few small goals to accomplish. Like shower and put clothes that aren’t pajamas on, turn on some music or my favorite show and make myself sit somewhere other than my room. Actually get up and make breakfast (or lunch depending on what time I end up getting up).” — Mariah S.

2. “I tell myself my puppy needs me to get up and take care of him because without me he has no one to take him outside or feed him. Even if I can’t take care of myself, I can’t abandon my responsibility to take care of him.” — Cassandra D.

3. “Honestly, I just force myself. I pep-talk myself. And if I get up early enough I’ll open the curtains for natural light and brew coffee. But after an hour of being up, I get exhausted so I usually have to go back and lay down to rest up.” — Eden L.

4. “I put on some fast or uplifting music that makes me want to get up to dance and sing because it makes me feel alive, and nothing else matters when I listen to music. Can’t be anything too introspective though.” — Ethan J.

5. “To get myself out of bed on especially hard days, I look at photos of things that make me smile: friends, family, pet, good times, etc. This helps remind me there are things worth getting up for.” — Sandy S.

6. “Although this isn’t something I do for myself, I normally leave my door closed when I sleep so a lot of mornings I’ll wake up to my dog crying outside my door because he wants to come in to see me. This is really motivating since it makes it so I have to get up and open the door, not only to have him stop crying, but it also makes me excited since there’s someone who is so excited to see me first thing in the morning.” — Kira M.

7. “On those days, I narrow my list down to as little as possible and allow myself a nap if it’s just for 30 minutes. I might add an extra guided meditation, and I make sure self-care is my top priority for the day.” — Amy L.

8. “I remind myself getting out of bed helps me get out of my head… going to work, going on a drive, seeing my family or friends, seeing my dog. I remind myself that depression doesn’t have to be my reality. I remind myself that there are people who love me and will be by my side the second I call (even if I still question that fact in my mind constantly). I remind myself today is just a day and it’s not the end of the world if I truly can’t make it out of bed… tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to do what I couldn’t do today.” — Allison L.

9.Just feed the pets, grab a water bottle and some food and you can go back to bed. Maybe I will push for a shower and clean clothes…maybe not. Taking one day off is OK…the deal is that I get back into it tomorrow.” — Samantha S.

10. “Honestly, I haven’t yet figured out that one ‘aha’ mechanism that I can use on demand when my depression gets bad. So for now, I let it take reign, consume me, wash over me or however you want to say it. I just lie there and let the thoughts rumble. I ruminate and am actively aware I’m struggling, but I truly have zero physical and mental power in those moments to change how low I feel. But I do know that eventually the rumbles turn into rolls and the rolls into distant ripples. And then I check my phone and see unread texts from my parents asking me to ‘acknowledge’ them or ‘to go outside,’ so I roll my eyes and finally get out of bed. If you can’t tell, I’m having one of those moments right now.” — Betsi L.

11. “I forget about tomorrow or the next day and just worry about today. I look at how many hours I have to put in, where I have to go and what I have to do. Basically, I look at it as rationally as I can and pep talk myself into it.” — Mallory T.

12. “Try to make just a goal of taking my meds, drinking enough water, getting enough movement/blood flow and maybe, taking a shower or even putting on makeup, even if I just get right back in bed when I’m done.” — Lizzy G.

13. “I promise myself an afternoon nap and an hour of chilling out. I plan a few things so that the day goes steadily. I plan an easy meal for the evening so that I don’t feel addled when making it. Also, I have a puppy who needs to be taken out.” — Julie B.

14. “I reach out to the people who know I struggle and tell them I’m having one of those days. Isolating myself makes everything worse. It helps having someone there, even if they lay around in bed with me. It brings a sense of peace and brings me back. As much as I hate talking to people when I’m down, it’s always so worth it. Even if they don’t talk, it’s all I need.” — Krissy U.

15. “Small goals like sitting up, getting out of bed, showering and making sure I reward myself mentally for achieving those goals. If I can’t even do that I ask for help. Having people in my life who understand and just surround me with love when I need it because sometimes the only thing I can do is send a text.” — Belinda S.

16. “I remind myself of my amazing wife. I hear a lot of people tell me I have to take care of myself first, but when depression creeps on I am worth nothing. That’s how it makes me feel anyway. So I remember the love and acceptance of my wife. And that’s how I get out of bed every morning.” — Bridgette W.

17. “I get up in micro-movements, talking myself through each step: sit up, sit on the edge of the bed, stand up, walk… then I keep doing that as long as I need to.” — Sheri K.

18. “I think of the reasons I have worth living. I remember all those times I made it out of depression and that motivates me to get up and keep trying. I try to work towards my goals despite depression. I just being it along for the ride.” — Hiram M.

19. “I take a bath or a shower. And that always feels like a major accomplishment on days like that. And I allow myself to feel like it is a victory, because anyone with depression knows that’s exactly what it is. I always feel a little better after I’m fresh out of a bath, no matter how small, the point is I feel better.” — Ashley M.

20. “I make a list of small things to do so I can have that sense of success, and eventually move on to bigger projects that need to be done. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. But it works a good amount of the time for sure.” — Wendy Y.

21. “I force myself to get some form of exercise. Whether I go for a walk or hit the gym, I just force myself to get a workout in. Most of the time that helps me get through the rest of the day. But if I end up spending the rest of the day on the couch, it’s OK.” — Michelle B.

22. “On those days, I think of three things that I can look forward to or accomplish that day, even if that means just getting a cup of tea and reading a book somewhere quiet. I can tell myself that I did it, that I got through it.” — Megan B.

23. “I open my blinds and the window. It helps me. Or when I finally get out of bed just stepping outside or opening the door for a few seconds helps me realize the world is out there.” — Jennica M.

24. “I stay in bed. It doesn’t undo the hard work you’ve done. You just start again in the morning. Sometimes you need to just have a ‘you day.'” — Chloe-Jane W.

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Why Mornings Are a Battle When You Have Depression


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Today I lost the morning battle. It’s that daily battle with yourself to get out of bed, get breakfast, brush your teeth, take a bath, get dressed and walk to school. There are two “rate-limiting steps” (sorry, we’re doing Biochemistry right now) to this daily battle: the first is being awoken by the alarm and deciding to get up or continue sleeping, the second is going to take a bath after eating breakfast. The first step is the most difficult one, but both steps cause as much trouble. Plenty of thoughts and feelings go through my newly roused mind after the first alarm goes off.

“What time is it?” “It’s too early.” “I can wake up later and still be on time.” “I’m tired.” “I can be late a little.” “There’s still time.” “Why bother going to school? I’m already late.” “Why bother sitting in the lecture? I’ll fall asleep anyway.” “Why go to class when you can read the book?” “Is there a graded requirement this morning?” “Why go to class at all? “We’re all eventually going to die someday.” “I just want to die now so I don’t have to go to school.” “Do people at school even like me? Maybe they’re just tolerating my presence.” “When I arrive, people at school will tease me for being late. I feel ashamed already, thank you very much.” “I have to do this paper later, will I have enough time to finish it after school?” “Why do I have so many problems?” “How the hell is one person supposed to solve all these problems?” “I guess if I die, there’d be no problem I’d have to face anymore.” “I should just die.” “I want to die.”

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“I’m so lazy and undisciplined.” “I’m a terrible, horrible person.” “I should be more ashamed of yourself.” “Oh, you’re blaming your depression again?” “Are you sure you’re not just lazy and undisciplined? Stop making depression your excuse.”

More than once, even if I have been hospitalized and even if I am taking medications for my depression, I question myself. I doubt myself. I tell myself I don’t have it bad like other people. I think I’m using it just as a scapegoat and I wasted my parent’s money by getting myself hospitalized in a private, tertiary hospital in the Philippines for about 60,000 pesos (about 1,200 USD).

“I should just die.”

Sometime later in the morning, I wake up, eat breakfast if I haven’t, or go take a bath if I have. After berating myself and beating myself up, I stand up and go to school. I’m late.

“I don’t come from my parent’s home anymore and I don’t have to go through traffic. I wonder what my classmates think of me now, being late to class even if I don’t have to go and suffer Metro Manila traffic anymore. They probably think I’m just so lazy.”

I get to school and my classmates smile teasingly at me. I just smile back, shrug my shoulders, and say, “I didn’t wake up.” Then, I would go through my day in a better mood or in an unhappy one, like today. I would say, “Hey, at least you still managed to get up and go to school today.” I pat myself on the back and congratulate myself for not giving up on the day.

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I’d set my alarm at 7 a.m. and I’d wake up all right despite having had a sleepless night. Within a few minutes I would get up. I’d get ready, put my lunch box in my backpack and walk to school.

“What a nice day! Today is going to be great!”

I’d wish I could say that. Maybe the sun was shining bright. Maybe the temperature was just right. I wouldn’t notice. Everything around me was painted in grey. The clouds looked dark. A gloomy feeling covered my surroundings.

When lunch break started, I’d take a few bites from my sandwich. The leftovers, more than half of my sandwich, would go into hungry seagulls’ tummies. I would chat with my best friends, occasionally laugh. My heart though remained heavy.

Class time would approach, and I’d be back to my own “little dark world.” I’d wonder why it was so painful for me to watch everyone around me do such “normal” things like laugh and giggle? Jealousy and frustration would build up so much. Why couldn’t I feel like them?

I could not remember what happiness felt like.

Each day during my high school, the whole sequence kept repeating. I was going through a lot of pain, sadness, and hopelessness, but then one day… I met someone. No, actually I had known this person for a long, long time.

I hated exercising, not to mention long distance running. This lady neglected all of that. She did not try to understand the world I was living in, but she forced me to go to the park with her and made me run. One thing I knew was that she cared about me.

At first, I hated every minute of it. It felt like pure torture. I could not even run 800 meters. “How will this help me feel better?” I thought. A few weeks later, I found an answer.

The kind lady always slowed down to run the first bit with me to help me cover more distance every day. After the daily set goal was reached, she would leave me on my own and I would fall back to my own little dark world again, but it felt different.

I started hearing birds singing, noticing them flying and enjoying their flights. I looked up in the sky and saw the bright sunlight. The air I breathed in seemed slightly more refreshing.

I believed those were the first steps I took on the road to happiness.

Now, about three years later, I am a runner, and I am making a lot of progress on this road. There are times I still struggle and go off track, but I know if I keep running I will be able to get back on the main road somehow. Sometimes, help and encouragement is needed for me to push on, but that is OK. Even though I have to fight to feel, it is worth the effort. I will keep going.

I hope my story gives you a positive feeling even though you may feel like there is no hope in darkness. I do feel that way as well a lot of times. I still believe there is a reason for me to face the challenge. I want you to believe you can fight too.

For now I can finally say…

“What a nice day! Today is going to be great!”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

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