Thursday, February 1, 2007

Love Thy Self

I used to wake up most mornings and drag myself out of bed grudgingly. It was too early. My husband kept me awake with his snoring. I had too much work and too little time to sleep.

These were my excuses. The sad fact was that I was depressed and didn't know it.

Depression can take many forms. It can make you feel like crawling back into bed and never coming out. It can make you angry at the slightest inconvenience or noise. It can feel like PMS.

Various statistics report that anywhere from 17 million to 30 million people are diagnosed with depression each year. Most point to drug therapy as the answer, but as my angry liver post explained it can also be caused by your diet.

You can read over that post to see what I mean. But since I've been feeling better, mornings aren't so horrible anymore. In fact, I have some tips for you on starting the day off right.

•Smile at Yourself. Give yourself a big toothy smile in the mirror, first thing each morning. Even if you don't feel like it, your brain doesn't know it. You can fool yourself into feeling better.

•Bless Yourself. Instead of letting that lame old tape run through your head of all your flaws and should do's, fight back with a compliment or a blessing. Tell yourself that you have beautiful skin if you frequently search for blemishes. Stretch your hands high over your head and bring them down into a prayer stance. Bow your head and wish yourself well. During a recent outing with my family, I saw a man who had suffered burns on his face and I thought, "Skin is remarkable. I have beautiful skin."

•Get Up Earlier Than the Children. It's so nice to have a few moments to yourself in the quiet before the bustle begins. When it's warm, I like to go out on my deck and get a breath of fresh air. I also like to tiptoe into my children's bedrooms and watch them sleeping. In the winter, a hot bath also feels really good. In order to get up early, I challenge all parents to get to bed by 9 p.m. at least one night a week. This is a reasonable goal.

•Make Your Bed. There is nothing better than seeing a tidy room when you've had a chaotic day. Your bedroom can be one room that feels tranquil and orderly. Try to keep the clothes picked up and your bed in order so it's easy to crawl back in at night.

•Speak Softly. Nobody likes a rude awakening in the morning. Rudeness like flipping on the lights and yelling sets up the potential for your children to dish the same behavior back at you. Instead, sit on the edge of the bed, pat your children gently on the back and wake them up with a cheerful voice. They might not get up right away, but gentle persistence pays off even if you have to sit them up or start singing the "Good Morning" song from "Singin' in the Rain."

Being annoying is far better than being a bully. And being silly is a good start to the day.

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