How My Morning Routine Helps Me Through Seasonal Depression
I love my morning routine for so many reasons. But the main reason is that it has forced me to take my mental and physical health more seriously.
In the winter of 2017, I started experiencing many seasonal depression symptoms (though I didn’t know this at the time). I didn’t want to get out of bed and I really didn’t want to go to class or work. My motivation was zero and my eating habits were awful. I didn’t know what to do other than go to the internet with my questions. That’s when I discovered I was probably suffering from seasonal depression, which made sense since I live in Minnesota and the winters include little to no sun and cold, dark days. So I did a few things that were recommended to me to get through that winter, but I knew it would probably come back the following winter and I wanted to be prepared.
How I Prepared Ahead of Time for Seasonal Depression
During all the research I did about seasonal depression, one thing I always came back to was setting up routines and healthy habits ahead of time so that they are easy to fall back on when
symptoms come up. One of those being a consistent morning routine.
So there I was a current night owl who was ready to start committing to an earlier wake-up time. I tried so many different morning routines before I finally landed on one I love waking up to every morning. I made it a point to stick to my routine every day through the summer and into the fall so when winter came, I had a routine that I could more easily stick to. If you set up your routine enough in advance, it’s easier to fall back on when life gets difficult because it’s something you’ve done a lot. You don’t have to think too hard about doing it. Your brain will fill in the gaps and keep you moving forward through your routine.
Other Ways My Morning Routine Helped Me Through the Winter
So besides being prepared ahead of time, I made sure to include activities in my morning routine that I not only enjoyed but would also help me through any symptoms that could come up.
Here’s what I included:
1. My Sunrise Alarm Clock
One of the top reasons for seasonal depression is the lack of sunlight we get in the winter. So with my sunrise alarm clock stimulating the sunrise before the sun actually rises outside, I was able to wake up easier. After I turn my alarm clock off, I immediately turn my bedroom lights on to keep the light flowing into my eyes, signaling to my brain that it is time to start waking up.
2. Take Vitamin D
The very next thing I do is take my Vitamin D supplement. Because of the lack of sunlight in the winter, it’s hard to get enough vitamin D so I take a supplement of it every morning, starting in September so that it’s a concrete habit by January when seasonal depression is strongest.
3. Drink a glass of water and make a smoothie
When suffering from seasonal depression, your health is everything. So I make a habit of drinking water first thing in the morning and making a healthy smoothie full of my favorite things.
This all comes before coffee ;)
Journaling has always been recommended to help with your mental health. So I make it a priority in my mornings to either free-write or write using a journal prompt to help clear my head and process any emotions I’m currently feeling. I can also use it to keep a log of my symptoms and notice anything that I may need to be more aware of.
5. Read my current favorite book while drinking delicious coffee
The last thing I do in my morning routines is read a book. This last step is simply something for me to look forward to every day because I often wouldn’t have time for it during the day. I also love a warm cup of coffee in the morning so this acts as my reward for completing my morning habits and encourages me to do so every morning.
These 5 things that I do every morning really helps to keep me grounded when seasonal depression comes creeping in. As we head into summer, start to build out your own routines, be it morning, daily, or evening routines, so that you have them to fall back on next winter. I know some mornings can be harder than others, but when you have a set routine of habits, all you need is the cue (the alarm clock going off) to get you started and everything else should fall into place pretty seamlessly after that.
And don’t forget to include a reward (like delicious coffee ;) to encourage yourself to follow through with the habit every single day.
About the Author
Alyssa is the owner of the blog Alyssa's Creative Lifestyle, which is dedicated to helping young busy women create the life of their dreams while also making sure to take care of themselves in the process. She writes about personal development, building healthy and productive habits and routines, and the occasional productivity hack.