By Daniellle Palmer, LPC

Winter can be a difficult time of year for many people. It can be especially challenging for those who struggle with Depression or experience depressive symptoms. While not everyone suffers from the exact same symptoms or even in the same way as someone else, these are some of the most common:

  • Depressed mood
  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in things/activities you usually enjoy
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or intense guilt
  • Significant sleep changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Some may read through that list and relate to a few of them, while others may identify to many or all of them. It’s also quite common for people to experience a “seasonal pattern” with depressive symptoms- like the winter. If you can relate to this, one way we can start working on this issue, is by tackling your morning routine.

The morning can be one of the hardest times in the day- it starts us off and can lead us down a positive/healthy path, or potentially a more negative/unhealthy one. To give your morning a better shot at being on the more positive end, I’d like you to first look at how you handle the night before.

Prepare for tomorrow. Big plans the next day? Pick out your outfit- and stick to it. Get your lunch ready. You may never plan to run late the next day, but we all know it happens. Don’t let a late morning prevent you from eating or having a balanced meal. Anything you can do to make your morning smoother, do it. Your future self will thank you.

Charge your phone away from your bed. Not going to lie, I’m afraid I will lose some people at this one. I know it may go against the very routine you’ve become used to, but please try it. Think about it. Having your phone so close to your pillow has the propensity to keep you awake (as you scroll through social media) and is much more likely to keep you in bed longer. You will have plenty of time to check on the world once you are up for the day. Also, it’s an incentive to get out of bed (but not back in). Keep your charger on your dresser or some other place in your bedroom, just not at arm’s length.

Write your intentions. I’d like for you to take 3 minutes and jot down a few intentions or goals for the day. It doesn’t need to be a comprehensive list of all you want to accomplish, just something small to keep you on track. Is there a big project you can’t get out of your mind? Write down one or two goals that would get you closer to where you want to be on it. Have homework? Jot down an assignment you hope to get done. Miss your mom? Put on there that you’d like to call her on your lunch break. A notepad and pen is all you need.

*If this is hard to do in the morning, attempt this one at night.

Drink something. Water is your best option. We typically wake up dehydrated from our sleep, so of course my first drink suggestion is a glass of water. If that doesn’t seem doable, go for a tea, coffee, juice, or smoothie. This will feel like a kickstart to your morning and it only takes a few minutes.

Turn on lights. Winter can be dark and dreary, so when you wake up, turn on some lights.

Shower. This isn’t just a step that’s helpful for those struggling depressive symptoms. A shower can make tired eyes feel less heavy. It can give us time to relax before starting a bunch of morning tasks. If you do feel depressed, though, a shower can be the difference between whether or not you commit to your plans that day: going to work, calling that friend, running an errand, cooking dinner. When depressed, a shower may be the goal, not a step along the way.

Get dressed. I know this one seems silly or obvious, but when someone feels depressed, getting dressed can be one of the hardest tasks to do. If everything else seems like too much, this is the one I want you to focus on. All I want you to do is go into your closet or open your drawer, pick out a fresh pair of underwear, top, and bottom- and put them on. Just get dressed and then try one of these other tips. Remember, this isn’t a checklist of items you must complete- do what you need.

Text a friend. Check in on someone else. I’ve had many clients benefit from taking a few minutes from their day to see how someone they care about is doing. This tip isn’t a tactic to get you opening up to someone (only do so if it feels right)- this is just about you offering your friendship to someone else.

Whether you’re interested in improving your morning routine because you experience depressive symptoms or not, these tips are helpful to anyone who wants to make some positive changes in their life. If you’ve read up to this point, my guess is you’re at least considering these tips. Life can be tough- winter can make it tougher, so why not give this a try? If you’re interested in learning more or have a desire to make some changes in your life, I’d be more than happy to help. Feel free to schedule an appointment online at or by calling 812.655.3058