Bergen County, New Jersey — Every single person has those days.
When the first thought that runs through your head in the morning is “I can’t get up.”
When you’d rather spend the next 24 hours covered by blankets.
When you’ve lost all motivation.
About four years ago when my depression hit the hardest, I felt like those days came every day. So I made a list to help myself get out of my bed even when it was the last thing I wanted to do.
However, no list is going to make anyone’s mental health struggles magically disappear. In my case, I have spent years working with a therapist on coping mechanisms and learning to control the monster of mental illness. Even with all that work and support, sometimes I still wake up and dread the thought of getting up to face the day.
That’s when I look back at my list and see if I can muster the energy to do something — anything — on it.
Usually, it helps.
MAKE GOALS FOR YOURSELF
Write down small goals to motivate yourself to get out of bed. It can be as simple as “Get up and take a shower” or “Eat breakfast.” Or you can aim for something more complex, like “Make someone else smile today.” Picking a singular goal to complete will help drive you to get up for the day.
PUT MUSIC ON
Like most people, I sleep with my phone right next to my bed. I am extremely motivated by music, and a good song can really change how I feel. Spotify has lots of playlists based on mood. My favorites in the morning are "Happy Hits" and "Songs to Sing in the Car," which both feature plenty of those sing-out-loud songs that lift up my mood.
[Or check out YR Media’s Songs to Be Sad To for a playlist full of calm, soothing vibes]
PLAN A SCHEDULE FOR THE DAY
Knowing exactly what I’ll do for the day with specific times can motivate me. I will often section out a time when I know I’ll be able to get back into my bed, so I can take a nap and refresh. Example schedule:
- 8:30 Leave the house
- 11:40 Eat lunch
- 1:00 Go to class
- 4:00 30 minute nap
- 4:30 Do homework
- 6:30 Dinner
MAKE PLANS WITH A FRIEND OR LOVED ONE
In the mornings, I’ll often send a text to a friend or family member asking if they want to meet for dinner or lunch. It gives me motivation to know that there is someone else who wants to be with me that day, and that I’ll have to get up to complete the plans I’ve made.
REMIND YOURSELF: EVERYONE HAS THOSE DAYS
One of the worst feelings that comes with depression is extreme loneliness. I can start falsely believing that I’m the only one in the world who suffers from depressive thoughts. But remember: every single person has days when they can’t get out of bed, and your feelings are valid. That's sometimes hard to grasp when everyone looks constantly happy on social media. However, if you look in the right places, the internet can actually help you connect with others who suffer from mental illness. Tons of people have become more open to sharing their experiences with mental health, and that helps remind me that I am truly never alone.
Sami Cohen is a part of the Child Mind Institute’s Project UROK, which seeks to destigmatize mental illness through storytelling. Check out their Wellness Trackers for more ideas like Sami’s. Sami has also spoken at two TEDxYouth events (here and here) about mental health awareness.
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741