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I strongly believe that every change that happens in our lives starts with a simple, small action.
Our tendency is to go for the shiniest object on the shelf and have instant gratification. And we may even think that meaningful changes come from making big decisions. The magnitude of our goal may be big, but it may be hard to accomplish it if we don’t start because that big decision seems out of reach. And although we need a lot of steps to see the bigger picture, the pivotal point is always small.
I used to live in a state of stress, overwhelm, and depression for a really long time. I used to open my eyes to yet another day, feeling tired, unmotivated, and wishing that the day was already over. Some days, my depression was so bad that I didn’t want to get up at all.
It’s hard to talk about big goals, lifestyle changes, and progressing in life when we constantly review the past and beat ourselves up that we should have done this, could have done that, or would have done the other thing, or rehearsing the future, overanalyzing what may never happen, and fixating about the uncertainty of it all.
I learnt a lot about depression and anxiety, the symptoms, and how to overcome them, but the more I thought about it all, the more confused and overwhelmed I felt. The feeling of hopelessness rarely leads with logic, so making a rational decision that “if I stop the negative self-talk, I can beat depression” didn’t seem logical to me at the time.
I was developing more and more coping mechanisms to hide the signs of depression in my life until I lost my dad to cancer and was thrown into even darker shades of grief. Not only my internal world fell apart, but the outside world stopped making any sense whatsoever. I was looking around me and all I saw was me sitting on a couch crying and everyone else progressing and climbing their ladders to happiness.
In one of the darkest moments in my life, I came across a life coach talking about creating a morning routine and starting your day by getting up when the alarm rings.
This sounds so obvious—it’s silly to think that such a small, logical step can make a pivotal change in anyone’s life. But it can.
You see, when we are overcome with emotions of despair, sadness, and grief, we hate the moment when the alarm clock rings in the morning. The first thing we do is hit the snooze button. In a world without any control, hitting the snooze button is the only control we have. It gives us the feeling that we can delay the beginning of a day. Even if it is for a moment.
But once we gather the courage to open our eyes and get up, the realisation that the day started without us hits us pretty hard. I felt so tired of avoiding living my life, and I desperately wanted to hold on to any sense of having control that I decided to stop hitting the snooze button.
The first few attempts were unsuccessful, but I persevered, and after a while, I managed to get up when the alarm rang. It was a new experience for me to see that even though my life was a mess, I was able to accomplish something.
Each morning I got up with the alarm clock and spent 10 minutes sitting in stillness, having my morning coffee. Then I added a few minutes on meditation.
My depression didn’t finish then, and I didn’t go through grief in a day, but this simple act of stopping hitting a snooze button helped me to regain control of my morning. It helped me to create a space so I could shift my focus and begin my healing process.
I’m in a different space now. I’m no longer battling depression, anxiety, or grief. I enjoy life again. I made a lot of big lifestyle changes and accomplished some big goals. But looking back at my healing journey, that small but extremely meaningful, pivotal step of getting up when the alarm clock rang was the biggest step I ever took.