Mental Health

Mandy Kloppers

Why routine is good for depression


Research has shown that a routine is good for depression. It helps regulate and a predictable rhythm is great for the body and mind. If you find getting up in the mornings difficult, you are not alone. There are ways to make it easier for yourself in the morning and here are a few ideas.

Low energy in the morning is common among people with depression, which can make it hard to get necessary tasks accomplished. Having a set morning routine means there are fewer decisions to make about how to start your day. Feeling in control of your mornings can help you feel productive and more motivated to take on the rest of the day. In general, your mood in the morning can have a significant impact on how you feel for the rest of the day, as well as your ability to get things done. Starting the day in a positive mood often leads to a positive mood and better work performance throughout the day, whereas a negative morning mood can not only last all day but often worsens as the day goes on and can negatively affect work performance.

Prepare the night before and lay out whatever you will need for the morning. This sets you up to be prepared and helps your brain feel ready. Try using an alarm clock that has light – A sunrise alarm clock — also known as a dawn simulator — uses artificial light to mimic a natural sunrise, slowly increasing the amount of light in your room to wake you up at a time you choose. Light therapies like dawn simulators are considered first-line treatments for depression that worsens in the winter, when there are fewer daylight hours.

Try a cold shower in the morning

In one clinical study, participants who took daily cold showers for several months reported decreased depression symptoms. Additional research suggests that cold water may boost your mood and decrease anxiety.

Cold water strains your body — it goes into “survival mode,” working hard to maintain its core temperature. This stimulates your body to increase blood flow circulation. Your body expends energy trying to stay warm in a cold shower. The result may be a small amount of calorie burn and increased metabolism. But don’t plan to throw your healthy eating and exercise plan out just yet — research on this benefit is limited.

Depression is hard to deal with

Sometimes, symptoms of depression can make you feel like you’re sinking into a void. And the deeper you sink, the harder it can feel to get out.

This is especially true because depression lies — it may tell you that you’re alone and unloved, or that you’ll never escape the feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness you’re experiencing.

But here’s the truth: You’re not alone.

According to the CDC, nearly 5%Trusted Source of all adults over the age of 18 years experience regular feelings of depression.

And though it can be a challenging condition, it is highly treatable, most commonly through a combination of talk therapy and medication. What’s more, there are things you can do in addition to treatment to help keep depression symptoms at bay.

After all, if you’re committed to doing certain practices every day, you have something that will get you out of bed and moving. And if some of those practices have been proven to help reduce symptoms of depression? Even better!


Exercise is known to help ease symptoms of depression. You don’t need to go to the gym, YouTube has load of exercise videos you can try, there are yoga lessons too. I particularly like the chair yoga sessions by Cassandra. Evidence suggestsTrusted Source that 15 minutes per day of higher-intensity exercise like running or 1 hour per day of low- or moderate-intensity exercise like walking or even doing easy chores may be beneficial. And it doesn’t have to be an hour in one go. You can break up exercise sessions into shorter time chunks if that works better for you.

Mindfulness and meditation

In today’s busy world, it can be hard to slow down and focus on the present moment. But research suggestsTrusted Source doing just that can help reduce the impacts of depression. It may even be beneficialTrusted Source for people with treatment-resistant depression.

Meditation and mindfulness can look a little different for everyone, but the main goal is to find a quiet place where you can shut out all the outside noise for at least a few minutes each day and just… breathe.

To make meditation part of your daily routine, start by deciding what time of day you might be most able to slow your mind and breathe in silence. For some people, this might be in the morning before the rest of the house wakes up. For others, it could be just prior to bedtime.

Whatever time works for you, try finding a quiet space during that time, closing your eyes, and focusing on the deep breaths you take.

If you feel like you might benefit from some additional guidance, you can look into online meditation options and apps.

Practice gratitude

It can be so easy to fall into a habit of focusing on the negatives: the things you hate about your job, your life, or your partner. We all do this from time to time, but it’s those thought cycles that can also sometimes lead to feelings of depression.

Some research suggestsTrusted Source that practicing gratitude and writing down what you’re grateful for may reduce symptoms of depression and improve happiness and life satisfaction.

So as part of your daily routine, try acknowledging the things you’re grateful for as well. These don’t have to be big things. It could be as simple as a barista who was kind to you, or a butterfly that made you smile on the way to work.

Just as we all have things to be frustrated about, we also have things to be grateful for. We may just need to take time to remind ourselves of that.

Be kind to others

Many of us have a habit of focusing on our own wants and needs, but research has found that shifting our focus toward helping others can actually improve symptoms of depression. Perhaps this is because doing so reminds us we aren’t alone and gives us a sense of purpose we might not otherwise have when simply focusing on ourselves.

Either way, it’s never a bad thing to try to make someone else’s day brighter. Acts of compassion and kindness don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming, either. It could be as simple as holding the door for someone who seems like they’re carrying a lot or bringing a cup of coffee to a friend who might need it.


Self care

Self-care can sometimes take a back seat when we feel depressed. Even doing small things every day can help, such as brushing your teeth. If that’s all you can manage, that’s fine. Do what you can…start somewhere and build on it. The more you push yourself to take small steps, the easier they will become over time. It can be one of the hardest things to do – find motivation when you feel depressed. Be kind to yourself and show yourself compassion.

Life isn’t a race, when you treat yourself with compassion, you will feel happier – just doing that one thing can help.