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< class="article__title title 10-things-every-morning-routine-for-depression-needs"> 10 Things Every Morning Routine For Depression Needs>
10 Things Every Morning Routine For Depression Needs
Sep 04, 23
This article has been vetted by the Onnit Advisory Board. Read more about our editorial process.
Author: Sony Sherpa

10 Things Every Morning Routine For Depression Needs

  • by Sony Sherpa

    Medically reviewed by

    Sony Sherpa

    Dr. Sony Sherpa is a board-certified Clinical Doctor and dedicated advocate for holistic medicine, specializing in functional mushrooms. Her blend of medical expertise and passion for alternative wellness lends authenticity to her role as a contributor for Natures Rise.

  • |
  • 19 min read
10 Things Every Morning Routine For Depression Needs

Starting your day when you're battling depression can feel like an uphill climb. But imagine this: You wake up and ease into the day with gentle stretches. It's like telling your body, 'Hey, we've got this.' 

Then, take five minutes for mindfulness meditation—it's like pressing a reset button for your mind. Breakfast is your next mood booster, with omega-3-rich foods and probiotics to kickstart your brain and gut health. 

Jotting down positive thoughts in a journal can steer your day in the right direction. And don't underestimate the power of a short walk outside—what a little fresh air and nature can do is fantastic.

We get it; mornings can seem like the most challenging part of the day when you're dealing with depression. But here's the good news: changing your morning routine can transform these hours into a time of empowerment and peace. It's not just about going through the motions; it's about creating a morning that feels like a personal win.

So, let's explore together how each part of this routine can be a bright spot in your day. We're taking this journey one morning at a time, rediscovering the small joys and reclaiming the sunrise as a symbol of hope and strength. 

Together, we'll turn every new day into an opportunity to say, 'Today, I'm taking a step forward.'

1. Mindful Meditation

Imagine starting your day not with the buzz of an alarm but with a peaceful moment just for you. Mindful meditation in the morning is like giving your mind a serene space to breathe before diving into the day. 

Picture this: You find a comfy spot, maybe by a window, where the morning light gently spills in. You sit down, close your eyes, and for just a few minutes, it's just you and your breath. 

Inhale, exhale. Simple, right? 

But in these moments, you're doing something incredible—you're clearing out the mental clutter, easing the weight of depression (1), one breath at a time (2).

2. Light Exercise

Light Exercise

Let's chat about adding a sprinkle of light exercise to your mornings. It's like telling your body, "We've got a whole day ahead, and we're starting it on the right foot!" 

You don't need to transform into a marathon runner overnight—that's not the idea behind morning exercises for energy. It's all about simple, feel-good movements that get the blood flowing and boost those mood-lifting endorphins (3). Here's a quick rundown:

  • Stretching: Begin with some basic stretches. Reach up high, touch your toes—feel every muscle waking up with you.
  • Yoga: How about some gentle yoga? There are poses that even beginners can enjoy, helping you feel centered and balanced.
  • Walking: A short walk can do wonders, maybe around your block or in a nearby park. It's not just exercise; it's a chance to connect with the world around you.
  • Dancing: Ever tried dancing in your living room? Put on your favorite tune and just move. It's fun, liberating, and a great mood lifter.
  • Tai Chi: This is like meditation in motion—slow, graceful, and calming. Perfect for gathering your thoughts and finding your zen.
  • Gardening: Not your typical exercise, but gardening in the morning gets you moving and lets you soak in some sunshine.

The beauty of these activities? They're low-impact but high in feel-good vibes. And you don't have to stick to one; mix it up depending on your mood. 

3. Eat a Nutritious Breakfast

Think of your morning meal as the first act of self-care for the day. It's not just about filling up; it's about fueling your body and mind with the right stuff to help lift your spirits. 

You don't need to be a chef or have a pantry full of exotic ingredients. It's all about simple, wholesome foods that boost your mood and energy in the morning. Here's a tasty lineup to get you started:

  • Whole Grains: How about some oatmeal or whole-grain toast? They're not just filling; they release energy slowly, keeping those mood dips at bay.
  • Omega-3 Rich Foods: Think salmon on a bagel or chia seeds sprinkled over your yogurt. Omega-3s are like your brain's best friends, known to improve mood.
  • Fruits: Berries, bananas, or a seasonal fruit salad? Fruits are refreshing and packed with vitamins and natural sugars for a quick mood lift.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds – they're great for a crunchy topping or a quick snack, packed with healthy fats and mood-boosting selenium.
  • Probiotic Foods: Yogurt or kefir can be a great start. They're good for your gut, and a happy gut often means a happier you.
  • Lean Proteins: Scrambled eggs or a slice of turkey? Proteins keep you full and focused, helping stave off the sluggishness that can come with depression.

Remember, it's not about a total diet overhaul. It's about making small, tasty changes that add up to a big mood boost. 

4. Get Some Sunlight

Get Some Sunlight

Opening your curtains to let in that morning sunshine is like sending an instant, sunny hello to your brain. 

It's more than just basking in the light; it's about soaking in Vitamin D, the 'sunshine vitamin,' which plays a big role in mood regulation (4)—according to research (5), vitamin D plays a vital role in fighting depression. 

Even on a cloudy day, getting some natural light can help kickstart your internal clock, making it easier to wake up and stay alert.

Here's the deal with sunlight exposure:

  • A Quick Sun Greet: Step outside for a few minutes. Whether enjoying the benefits of mushroom coffee on the porch, a brief walk, or just standing in a sunny spot, these moments can lift your spirits.
  • Breakfast by the Window: If stepping out isn't an option, find a spot near a window to enjoy a breakfast of foods that wake you up. It's about letting that light in while you start your day.
  • Gardening or Outdoor Exercise: Combine sunlight with a bit of activity. Gardening, stretching, or a morning jog can double the mood-boosting effects.

Remember, it's not about long sunbathing sessions; it's about regular, brief encounters with natural light. It can help regulate sleep patterns, boost vitamin D levels, and improve overall mood. 

5. Gratitude Journaling

Picture this: You have your favorite pen and a cozy little notebook. This is your gratitude journal, a simple yet powerful tool in your journey. 

Each morning, take a moment to jot down a few things you're thankful for. It could be as grand as a life-changing event or as small as the comfort of your morning coffee. 

This isn't just scribbling in a diary; it's an act of focusing on the positives, of training your brain to spot the bright spots in your life.

Here's why gratitude journaling is so impactful:

  • It Shifts Focus: When depression tries to cloud your mind with negatives, this journal becomes your ray of sunshine, redirecting your thoughts to the good stuff.
  • A Daily Dose of Positivity: A few minutes of acknowledging the positives can set a hopeful tone for the day.
  • Reflective and Therapeutic: It's not just about listing things; it's about reflecting on them. Why are you thankful for them? How do they impact your day or life?

And the best part? There are no rules. You can write down three things, five things, or just one. It's about creating a habit of appreciation and positivity. 

6. Structured Schedule

Structured Schedule

Imagine your morning as a canvas and your structured schedule as the frame that holds it together. It's not about packing your morning with tasks; it's about creating a rhythm that brings a sense of order and predictability to your day. 

When depression makes everything feel overwhelming or chaotic, a well-planned schedule is like a reassuring friend saying, "Hey, I've got your back."

Here's how a structured schedule can make a difference:

  • Consistent Wake-Up Time: Try to wake up at the same time every day. It sets your internal clock, making mornings less groggy and more manageable.
  • Routine Activities: Whether making your bed, brewing mushroom coffee, or reading a few pages of a book, these small rituals can become anchors, providing stability and a sense of accomplishment.
  • Prioritize Your Well-being: Include activities just for you—maybe those morning stretches, meditation, or a quiet breakfast. It's about carving out 'me time' amidst the hustle.

Remember, the goal isn't to fill every minute but to provide a gentle structure that guides you through the morning. It's like having a roadmap for the start of your day, helping you navigate through the foggy moments that depression can bring.

7. Breathing Exercises

Think of breathing exercises as your reset button. They're simple, quick, and you can do them anywhere—in bed, at your desk, or even while making breakfast. 

When depression makes your thoughts feel heavy and your day daunting, these exercises are like a gentle lift, bringing clarity and calmness to your mind.

Here's a peek into how breathing exercises can brighten your mornings:

  • Deep Belly Breathing: Sit or lie down comfortably. Place one hand on your belly and breathe deeply through your nose, feeling your belly rise. Then slowly exhale through your mouth. This isn't just any breath; it's a deep, life-affirming breath that says, 'I am here, and I am okay.'
  • Counted Breaths: Inhale while counting to four, hold for a count of four, then exhale for four. It's like giving your mind a mini-vacation from the whirlwind of thoughts.
  • Guided Breathing Apps: Sometimes, a little guidance helps. There are plenty of apps out there that can walk you through calming breathing exercises.

The beauty of these exercises? They're a quick and effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. You're essentially telling your body, "It's time to relax. We've got this." 

8. Hydration

Hydration

Imagine your body as a garden that needs watering to flourish. That first glass of water in the morning? It's like giving your body a wake-up call, saying, "Let's get ready for a beautiful day!" 

When you're dealing with depression, even small steps like staying hydrated can have a big impact on how you feel.

Here's why hydration is a morning must:

  • Kickstarts Your Metabolism: Drinking water first thing in the morning sparks your metabolism, giving you a gentle nudge to start your day.
  • Boosts Brain Function: Your brain is mostly water, so hydrating helps keep your mind clear and improves focus and concentration. It's like clearing the morning fog outside and inside your head.
  • Elevates Your Mood: Staying hydrated can help lift your mood (6). It's like each sip is washing away a bit of the heaviness that depression (7) brings.
  • Cleanses Your System: A morning glass of water helps flush out toxins, setting a clean, healthy tone for the day.

And here's a little tip: If plain water sounds too bland, try infusing it with some lemon, cucumber, or berries for an extra zing. 

9. Positive Affirmations

Imagine starting your day not with the buzz of an alarm, but with powerful words that uplift and empower you. 

Positive affirmations are like your personal cheerleaders, reminding you of your strength and worth, especially on those tough depression days. It's about setting a tone of self-love and resilience from the moment you wake up.

Incorporating positive affirmations into your morning might look like this:

  • Mirror Talk: Stand in front of the mirror and say something affirming about yourself. It could be as simple as, "I am worthy," or "Today, I choose to find joy in small things." It's like you're looking directly at those negative thoughts and saying, "Not today."
  • Affirmation Cards: Keep a set of affirmation cards by your bed. Pick one each morning, and let that be your daily positive mantra.
  • Write Them Down: Jot down a few affirmations in your journal. Seeing them in your handwriting makes them even more personal and powerful.

The key is repetition and belief. It's not just about saying these phrases; it's about feeling them, believing them. On days when depression tries to pull you down, these affirmations can be a lifeline, pulling you back towards positivity and strength.

10. Creative Activity

Creative Activity

Picture this: Your morning begins not with the rush of emails or the blare of the news, but with a splash of creativity. 

Whether drawing, writing, crafting, or even cooking, indulging in a creative activity is like sending a message to your brain saying, "It's time to play, to express, to heal." 

When you're battling depression, these moments of creativity can be like rays of sunshine, piercing through the clouds.

Here's what your creative morning might include:

  • Doodling or Sketching: Grab a pencil and let your thoughts spill on paper. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece. It's about the process, not the product.
  • Journaling or Writing: Write a poem, a short story, or even a letter to yourself. It's a powerful way to voice your feelings and clear your mind.
  • DIY Crafts: Engage in a small crafting project. It could be as simple as knitting, making a collage, or starting a scrapbook.
  • Cooking or Baking: Experiment with recipes in the kitchen. The act of cooking or baking is not only creative but also rewarding – you get to eat your creations!

Engaging in these activities in the morning sets a positive, creative tone for the rest of your day. It's like telling your mind, "Hey, there's more to today than just the routine." It's a form of self-expression and therapy rolled into one. 

FAQs About Morning Routine for Depression

Is Sticking To A Routine Good For Depression?

Absolutely! Sticking to a routine can be a real game-changer for those with depression. Why? Well, routines offer a comforting structure. 

They help reduce the overwhelm of decision-making and give a small but satisfying sense of accomplishment. Plus, they encourage healthy habits, like sleeping better or setting aside some me-time. 

But remember, while routines are great, they shouldn't feel like a straitjacket. Some days might go off-script, and that's okay. The goal is to find a balance that works best for you.

Is It Normal To Experience Setbacks While Establishing A Morning Routine For Depression?

Absolutely! Experiencing setbacks while establishing a morning routine, especially when dealing with depression, is normal

Remember, it's not just about building a new habit; you're also navigating the challenges of depression. It's like trying to learn a new dance while the music keeps changing. 

Some days will be smoother, while others might feel like two steps back. But that's okay. Every attempt, even the not-so-perfect ones, is progress. 

It's essential to be patient and kind to yourself. Celebrate the small victories, learn from the setbacks, and keep moving forward. You've got this!🌞

Can A Morning Routine Replace Professional Help For Depression?

While a morning routine can be a beneficial complement to managing depression, it shouldn't replace professional help. Think of it like this: If you had a physical injury, daily exercises might help with recovery, but you'd still want a doctor's guidance, right? 

Similarly, a morning routine can provide structure and positive habits, but professional therapy, counseling, or medication can address the underlying causes and complexities of depression. 

Always consult with a mental health professional about the best treatment approach. Remember, it's not either/or; it's about finding a combination of tools that work best for you.💡🌼

Key Takeaways

Navigating mornings with depression isn't merely about chasing perfection but embracing those small, meaningful practices that can make dawn a bit brighter. 

It's essential to acknowledge that mornings can be challenging; it's neither 'laziness' nor just 'a bad day.' Some days, even a 5-minute effort can feel like conquering a mountain. 

Incorporating the Five Pillars, from a brief stretch to finding a moment of gratitude, can infuse positive energy into the start of your day. And for those especially tough days, don't forget your toolkit: maybe a calming podcast or prepping things the night before. But, above all, remember flexibility is your friend. 

Not every morning will follow the script, and that's perfectly okay. Progress, not perfection, is the mantra. 

Now, we'd love to hear from you. How do you craft your mornings? Do any routines or rituals add that pep to your step? Dive into the comments below and share your experiences. Your story might be the guiding light someone else is searching for this morning.

We Would Love To Here Your Comments Leave A Comment

References

  1. Critical Analysis of the Efficacy of Meditation Therapies for Acute and Subacute Phase Treatment of Depressive Disorders: A Systematic Review, (1), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4383597/
  2. Mindfulness and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in the General Population: The Mediating Roles of Worry, Rumination, Reappraisal and Suppression, (2), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6418017/
  3. The Effects of Acute Exercise on Mood, Cognition, Neurophysiology, and Neurochemical Pathways: A Review, (3), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5928534/
  4. Association between Vitamin D Supplementation and Mental Health in Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review, (4), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8584834/
  5. Vitamin D and Depression: A Critical Appraisal of the Evidence and Future Directions, (5), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6970300/
  6. Effects of Changes in Water Intake on Mood of High and Low Drinkers, (6), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3984246/
  7. Drinking plain water is associated with decreased risk of depression and anxiety in adults: Results from a large cross-sectional study, (7), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6147771/
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