What to do if you feel you cannot get out of bed
Depression, stress, anxiety, or lack of sleep can make staying in bed a tempting option. However, staying in bed can worsen some symptoms of depression and insomnia. Where possible, it is best to try to get up at the same time each day.
When a person is finding stress, anxiety, or depression overwhelming, they can try using the following ten tips.
1. Break goals down into steps
A person can divide their morning into manageable steps to make it seem less overwhelming.
Sometimes, the prospect of everything that needs doing in a day can feel unmanageable.
If a deadline is looming or anxiety about a particular task or activity is causing a person to have trouble getting out of bed, they should try to divide their morning and day into manageable steps.
Instead of focusing on all of the tasks or duties for the entire day, a person can focus on the next few steps alone.
People should first concentrate on getting up, then using the bathroom, then getting dressed, and so on, without thinking of the day as a whole. Breaking the day down into manageable goals can make it seem less overwhelming.
To encourage a feeling of accomplishment, the person can write tasks down and cross them off as they complete them. The sense of achievement can help a person feel more motivated ahead of beginning the next set of tasks.
2. Get a pet
A review of studies examined the effect of human-animal interactions on a person's overall mood.
The review found that interacting with pets, particularly dogs, has a positive effect on stress levels, feelings of loneliness, and anxiety.
Having a dog may also encourage exercise, which can lead to reduced stress and overall better health.
However, it is important to note that having a pet will not relieve all of a person's symptoms, and they should only consider getting one if they can commit to caring for an animal.
3. Be accountable to someone
A person can make plans with a friend or family member to give them a reason to get out of bed.
Friends and family members can help a person find a reason to get out of bed in the morning. A person who is struggling to get out of bed can try making plans with a family member or friend. Being accountable to someone else can be a good motivator.
For example, a person could arrange with a friend or family member to:
- walk, run, or exercise first thing in the morning
- meet at a coffee shop on the way to work
- carpool to work
- talk to each other on the way to work or school each morning
Reaching out to a trusted friend or family member may help a person living with depression feel less isolated.
4. Focus on a feel-good event
Focusing on an event or action that inspires positive feelings can be very motivating. Instead of thinking about any negative events of the day, a person can focus on the simple things that bring them pleasure.
Some examples include:
- the post-exercise feeling
- the first sip of a morning tea or coffee
- a tasty breakfast
- a friendly greeting
5. Visualize successful moments and days
Most people can remember examples of successful moments in their lives. Maybe it was getting an A on a test, receiving a performance-based bonus, or scoring the winning point in a game.
No matter what it was, a person can focus on the event and try to channel the positive feeling from it. Channeling that feeling may help someone get out of bed if they are having trouble doing so.
6. Brighten up the room
Darkened rooms are good for sleep. People who have trouble falling asleep may find that reducing ambient light can help them fall and stay asleep.
However, people who have trouble getting up in the morning have the opposite problem. They want to get going but can struggle to do so. In this case, when the alarm sounds, a person should turn on a bright light or open up shades or curtains.
Some people may even want to consider using timers for their lights so that they turn on at a particular hour and help them wake up.
7. Turn on some music
Research over the years has shown that music can often alter a person's mood.
According to a review of these studies, how a person listens to music in everyday life can affect the feelings that they associate with it.
For example, a person who uses music primarily for meditation may find that music helps them relax or fall asleep. However, a person who uses music when exercising or when trying to lift their spirits throughout the day is likely to find that turning on music when first getting up in the morning can motivate them to get going.
8. Fill up the calendar with things to do
Having something to look forward to can help people get out of bed in the morning.
Getting out and spending time with friends or family can have a positive effect on people's mood, particularly those suffering from depression. The event could be as simple as meeting for a meal or going to a concert or movie over the weekend.
It is not necessary to fill every day with events and get-togethers. In fact, building in some time to rest throughout a day can help a person feel less overwhelmed and more energized.
Events can give a person something to look forward to that can push them through their day-to-day feelings of negativity.
9. Do not stress about daily tasks
Breaking from the fog of not wanting to get out of bed can take some time.
To-do lists can sometimes be overwhelming, especially first thing in the morning. Instead of letting the stress of lots of tasks become overwhelming, a person struggling to get out of bed should try not to worry about getting it all done.
Instead, the person should do what they can and remember that tomorrow is a new day to accomplish things. It might be helpful for them to prioritize a few tasks on the list that they know are possible to complete. Ticking these tasks off the list may motivate a person to do more.
10. Plan to spend time outside
Being outside can help a person feel more energized. Fresh air and sunshine can often improve a person's mood. A person should plan to spend at least a little bit of each day walking, reading a book, or doing another activity outside.
According to one review of studies, exposure to green space can help a person replenish themselves and reduce mental fatigue and stress. The authors conclude that more research is necessary to determine exactly what causes this, but evidence suggests that being outdoors can help a person feel better overall.
When to see a doctor
Nearly everyone will have days when they do not want to get out of bed or do much of anything.
Potential causes include stress, anxiety, or feeling ill. In these cases, the feeling typically passes quickly or lasts for a day or so before the person is ready to get going as usual.
However, if these feelings persist or occur alongside other symptoms of depression, people should consider seeking help from a counselor, therapist, or another healthcare professional. These professionals may be able to recommend additional strategies to help a person start to feel better.
For many people, focusing on the positives in life can make a big difference in getting out of bed in the morning. A person should try different strategies until they find the ones that work for them.
Sometimes, a person also needs to recognize that they need a bit of a break so that they can get back to normal the next day. If all else fails, a person should seek counseling for additional strategies to help make them feel better.