I don’t know very many people who look forward to getting up in the morning. Who doesn’t like to sleep in whenever possible?
But if you are facing a medical diagnosis, and the emotions that go along with it, getting up in the morning has a whole different meaning. Not being able to get out of bed in the morning can literally mean not being able to getting of bed, due to a combination of emotional, cognitive and physical symptoms that can leave you feeling as if you are glued to your bed. Nobody understands what this feels like better than you do.
Still, for better or worse, the day doesn’t really get underway until you are out of bed. So if you are stuck there, chances are, you’re going to make a day of. You may not feel any worse, but you also may not be giving yourself the opportunity to feel any better.
I am not telling you to “fake it ‘til you make it.” You have probably heard that too many times already, often from the mouths of people in your life who could, and should, be more understanding but, for whatever reason, aren’t understanding at all. I know this isn’t easy.
But I do want to suggest a few techniques that you might use to help yourself make that first big move in the morning. While I don’t expect you to find all of these ideas helpful, I am hoping that at least one or two of them might be useful.
So here goes:
Create an attractive incentive. Get a coffee pot with a timer, so that you can set it like an alarm clock at night. You’ve probably heard the expression, “wake up and smell the coffee.” Well, you can help yourself to do that. If you aren’t a coffee drinker, find something else to look forward to, even a favorite morning TV show, that might make the morning a little easier to face. And what about that nice hot shower? Toast with strawberry jam (my personal favorite)?
Remind yourself of a responsibility that you want to meet. If you have a family, then I suspect that having enough responsibility is the least of your worries. So I would encourage you to consider: is there a labor of love somewhere in the middle of all of that? Saying good morning to your kids and making them breakfast, helping them to feel safe and secure before they leave for school? Or, feeling that sense of accomplishment when you get in your car and leave for work? Greeting a co-worker that you enjoy being with? What I am suggesting is to focus on some aspect of the morning that you enjoy, rather than focusing on what’s difficult and not so fun.
Or, commit to a new responsibility. You might want to create a reason to get up, such as scheduling a call to a friend or family member, or a morning chore that needs to get done.
Enlist your support team. And speaking of that new responsibility, you might want to consider creating some accountability with your support team. Is there someone that you can make a deal with to call, or to call you, in the morning? Nothing like a few words of encouragement, or some tough love, to help you to start the day.
How about a pet? Animals offer unconditional love, and appreciate anything and everything you do for them. But they are on a timetable, especially in the morning, and they don’t take no, or later, for an answer.
Where is your alarm clock? You might want to move it across the room, so that if you want that reward of stopping the buzzing or the chirping, you have to actually get out of bed. And think of it this way: if it’s already across the room, you won’t be tempted to throw it!
Make a list… and then make another one. One of the advantages of making a list is to be able to decide what you want to get done and what doesn’t have to get done. In other words, you can use it make yourself feel even more overwhelmed – and giving yourself one more reason to stay in bed – or you can use it to help you to decide what your priorities are. Be realistic but also gentle with yourself – having a big old impossible to-do list is enough to keep anybody in bed.
Plan ahead. At the end of each day, you might want to try making a list of what you want to accomplish the next day. Decide what you most want to accomplish, what you think is reasonable, and what you don’t need to tackle. Simplify your life. It’s a way to turn the mud – that vague feeling that you are overwhelmed – into a few manageable tasks.
Take baby steps. The first item on your list is to get out of bed. Maybe on the first day, that’s the only item on your list. Go easy on yourself, one baby step at a time. Tomorrow, you can add another task or two that might follow getting out of bed. Everybody has their own process of getting through the day.
Talk to your mental health team. Are they aware that you are having trouble getting out of bed in the morning? Have you asked them for some help in creating a strategy for getting yourself vertical in the morning? Is it time to have a talk about your drug regimen? It can’t hurt to make sure that you have all of your bases covered.
Don’t beat up on yourself when the day doesn’t go as planned. Okay, so you weren’t so successful, at least not today. Don’t use this as an opportunity for self-criticism. Instead, take a look at your strategy. Are your incentives in place? Your supports? Are you trying to do too much? Take as step back, give it another try tomorrow.
Fake it ‘til you make it. I just had to sneak that in, only to remind you that sometimes getting up in the morning is an “intellectual decision,” something that you choose to do because you want or need to, for any of the reasons that I described. But if you wait to “feel” like getting up, you might just decide you don’t feel like it. Using a little tough love with yourself might help. And keep in mind that positive actions can create positive energy, so look at your getting up routine as an opportunity to build some forward momentum into your life.
And pat yourself on the back for each and every accomplishment. So, you not only motivated yourself to get up and moving but you got a chore or two completed, got your family off to work and school, made it through your own workday? It’s all good, the little bits and the big bits. Celebrate yourself!
Good morning, this is your wake up call. Have a great day!