December 12, 2011

When Mornings Start Rough, Fake It 'Til You Make It


Fake it ‘til you make it.

That’s what one great collegiate golf coach that I know tells her players when they’re having a bad round. “Fake it ‘til you make it" means a bad start to a round of golf, or a work day at the office, doesn’t have to always turn into a bad afternoon.
Sometimes you just have to fake it til you make it, or keep plugging away until things improve.
Too many Mondays are like that for me. Today was an especially Manic Monday. At least the morning was. I awoke tired and depressed. The weather was depressing. Work was even worse—at least until after lunch. 
As I’ve blogged about before, there is a natural explanation for why mornings can be harder for those of us who suffer from depression. It’s partly because our body naturally produces more of the stress hormone called cortisol in the mornings.
That can become a vicious cycle because an elevated cortisol level only makes us more stressed out, which then leads to more cortisol, which then leads to even more stress and anxiety.
Enough with the science, which I have only a limited grasp of anyway.
Sometimes I find, like today, if I can just grind through a tough morning, I can end up with a decent afternoon. I end up setting small goals when mornings start out rough. Like make it to my 10 am coffee break. Finish that letter I’ve been procrastinating. And then just make it to lunch.
That can be enough to propel me to the afternoon, when my energy and mood generally improve. I’ll be honest here. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes all the coffee and positive self-talk I can stand doesn’t make tough starts turn into good days. But I try. We always have to try.
This is a bit dramatic perhaps, but we just need to remember the words of the late Jim Valvano, the North Carolina State basketball court who led his team to an unlikely National Championship and then died of cancer a decade later.
“Don’t give up,” Valvano said. “Don’t ever give up.”
 Words to live by.