Just can’t get started
Whether it’s stress, depression, anxiety, or lack of sleep, there are times when getting out of bed in the morning may feel overwhelming. But staying in bed every day is usually not a long-term option.
Here’s how to get up and going when it may feel impossible.
These 15 techniques may be able to help you overcome the feeling that you can’t get out of bed. Whether you’re feeling excessively sleepy or having trouble managing your depression, one of these strategies may help you.
Find an accountability partner
Friends and family members can serve as support and a point of accountability. They can check in with you and provide encouragement. They can also provide reassurance and assistance.
Ask someone to text or call you every morning to check on your progress and plans. The anticipation of the check-in may be an encouragement to get up.
Rely on a furry friend
Pets can be helpful for people with depression.
- reduce stress
- lower anxiety
- ease feelings of loneliness
They also encourage exercise, which boosts overall health. Plus, animals need you to get out of bed — they use the restroom outside! Having a panting pooch nuzzling you for love and a walk may be a useful way to encourage you to get out of bed.
Take small steps
If the day feels overwhelming, don’t focus on it. Focus on the moment. Give yourself a “next step” goal. Tell yourself you only need to get to the shower. When you accomplish that, tell yourself you only need to get dressed, then make breakfast.
One step at a time
Take each element of your day as a stand-alone task. If it begins to feel too cumbersome or weighty, stop. Start again when you feel you can deliver the effort you need to finish that task.
Focus on successful moments and days
You’ve likely felt this way before. And you likely overcame it. Remind yourself of that and how you felt when you were able to accomplish what you did.
Whether it’s moving from the bed to the dining room table or successfully attending the business meeting you had scheduled, the feeling of accomplishment can be a strong incentive to go again.
Bribe yourself with good feelings
You know how good that first sip of coffee feels at your favorite coffee spot? Remember that and make yourself crave it.
Desire is a strong driver of energy. Maybe it’s not coffee, but you love listening to music and swaying on your porch in the sunlight. Picture that moment. When you crave an event or a feeling — or yes, even a food — you have something that encourages you to rise.
Turn on some tunes
It’s can be hard to stay down when you’ve got a tempo beating from your speakers. Turn on a fast-paced soundtrack (slow and relaxing songs are better another day) and sit up.
You don’t have to dance, but a sway, clap, or snap can help you feel movement in your limbs. Take the moment to stretch, and put one foot in front of another.
Shed some light
Dark, dim rooms are inviting for sleeping, but that’s a problem if you’re struggling to get out of bed. Turn on lamps or throw open the shades to invite bright, warming light into your room. This can help you feel more alert.
Work in threes
Long to-do lists can feel overwhelming. And if you don’t accomplish the full list, you may feel discouraged. Instead, give yourself just three things to accomplish.
Write them down if it helps you focus, but don’t exceed the limit of three. When you’ve marked off those three, give yourself a bit to rest. You may have done everything you need for the day, or you may want to write another list of three.
Work with what you know you can accomplish. Give yourself the time to rest between tasks.
Reach out to people you can trust
Depression, anxiety, or stress can leave you feeling isolated and alone. It’s a powerful feeling that can be difficult to overcome and make you want to avoid others. Resist this temptation and ask friends to make plans or a phone date with you.
The human connection is powerful. It can help you feel important in the lives of others.
Tell yourself your plan
When the thoughts in your head tell you to stay in bed, talk back to them (and to yourself). Say what your plans are to get going.
Once you’re in motion, it’s often easier to stay in motion. This technique can take work and time. A therapist can help you develop the right “talking points” and strategies, too.
Reflect on the positive
Photos, quotes, music: These are all things that can stir up positive feelings and happy memories. This may help you overcome the feelings of being “stuck” when you don’t feel you have the energy to get out bed.
Keep a photo album by your bedside, or purchase a book filled with inspiring quotes that speak to you. Open these books when you want to add a bit of brightness to your day.
Fill your calendar
Give yourself an event each day you can look forward to. It doesn’t have to be a large event. Meet a friend for coffee. Finally go try that new bakery downtown. Swing by your friend’s store to see their new items on the way home.
Giving yourself a goal that’s pleasurable and fun may help overcome feelings of dread or anxiety.
Being outside is good for you. Some researchers believe getting outdoors can improve your concentration and help you heal faster. Exposure to sunlight increases the feel-good chemicals in your brain, like serotonin.
Even a few minutes outside can help. Start small and step out on your porch, balcony, or into your backyard. If you feel like it, go for a walk and soak in a little more sunshine.
There are many benefits of sunlight. From helping lift your mood to strengthening your bones, sunlight is powerful stuff.
Plan rest into your day
If you need downtime, whether it’s napping or reading a book, make sure you plan that into your day. This will give you the reassurance that while your day may be busy, you’ll be able to stop, rest, and refresh.
Give yourself some grace
Tomorrow is a new day. If you can’t get out of bed today, it’s OK. If you can’t get beyond the first goal, it’s OK. You can look to tomorrow to get things done. The fog will lift, and you’ll be able to return to your normal activities.
You may be able to overcome the feeling that you can’t get out of bed. However, if you don’t, consider working with a mental health professional, like a therapist, to develop techniques and strategies that may be helpful to you in the future.
These experts and healthcare providers can also be helpful in treating other elements of mental health conditions like depression, including isolation, irritability, and loss of interest.
When you feel overwhelmed, too tired, or just altogether unable to get out of bed, remind yourself to take things one step at a time.
While these strategies may not work every time, they’re still a starting point for helping you find ways to overcome the symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress and continue with the activities you want to do.