For many of us, the morning routine has the least variability of all our daily habits. Because of this, you may have found it tough to stop and notice how you feel; it's just so darn "every day"!
I hope you did notice a thing or two, because now we're gonna talk about what to do with it. (Didn't get the heads up to observe how you feel in the mornings? Don't miss out anymore, sign up here!)
How to wake the way you want
There are so many factors that go into shaping your morning. Most of them are out of your control. How can you respond to what is?
Keep in mind what you've observed of "how you feel on waking" as we tackle some variables you can address.
First, how do you feel on waking and what do you do in response?
Some feel groggy getting out of bed and immediately step in the shower to wake up.
Others rise feeling full of energy and go for a run to put it to use.
I wake up curious and spend time engaging my churning brain in learning.
What do you feel on waking? And what's the first thing you do?
- Something that makes you feel like a kid again? or
- Something that makes you feel like an over-burdened grown-up?
Aim for something that makes you feel like your morning self --whether that's sluggish or chipper!
I went from a morning yoga asana practice to a morning reading/writing practice. And I totally feel like I'm getting away with bad yogi behavior, since it's bored into us that you should do your yoga practice first thing --to set your day up right and so you don't forget to fit it in. But, dudes! Screw that! For now, my new practice works so much better than meditation at setting up my day right.
But! There was a time when yoga and meditation did the trick. I still highly recommend a morning yoga practice! It may be just what you need.
Next, what'd you do last night? maybe it's affecting your morning mood.
I love a neat glass of fine whiskey, but more than one too close to bedtime and there goes my morning clarity.
On the flip side, if I go to bed without at least a little bit of wind down time, I wake up at 4am realizing I left an unread email in my inbox. And then I get sucked in to the drudgery of admin tasks. Such a waste of good learning time. *Sigh*
Let go of the day before so you can start the new one afresh. (Easier said than done, but that's why we're talking about it!)
Do any of your evening habits sabotage your mornings?
We'll look at this in more detail in two weeks, but for now, just start to notice if you can connect any evening habits to any morning discomfort (too much scotch before bed, that's not just me --it'll throw your morning outta whack, too.)
Or! Maybe you're one of the lucky ones who's got the perfect bedtime ritual and wakes every day just as you need to.
Bravo you! What are you doing that's working? Protect it! And if you can't always stick to it, know that you may need something extra to move into your day without feeling "off."
Does your schedule match your mornings?
Are you a night owl with a 9-5 work schedule? Are you a morning bird teaching evening classes?
You may be disrupting your unique biorhythm without realizing it. In a perfect world, you can change your schedule to be more efficient in your sleep-wake patterns. But since it's not a perfect world (yet), maybe you can accommodate the mismatch with a small shift in your habits.
What evening or morning ritual can you adapt to better support your natural patterns despite a tough schedule?
Night Owls: If the science has it right, it takes you longer to wake up in the morning because your circadian rhythm is slow. This means give yourself more time.
Take the two hours you need from alarm to exit. This means you'll need to go to bed earlier, which may be rough for you.
Try this: set an ideal time to be asleep by, start your wind down process the hour before, and if you're still winding down with reading or something for an hour beyond your sleep time, so be it. Enjoy more of your book! Or whatever. Ideally this won't happen every night. But if it's more often than not, try amping up your exercise routine. Strong exercise will help most of us sleep better --just make sure it's not too close to bed time, because that may keep you awake longer!
Morning Larks: If you must be productive late into the day, give yourself permission to take mental/energy breaks earlier in the day. Take an extended coffee break (or nap) and set yourself up for a second wind!
If you're arriving home close to your bed time, do give yourself some wind down time, but just the minimum, so you can get to bed at as normal an hour as possible. You'll be up early, after all.
What's the minimum? My abbreviated wind down usually involves a bowl of noodles and about 20-30 minutes with my latest silly sitcom of choice. For you, it may be a cozy cup of chamomile tea in a quiet room.
The best way to find it? Start paying attention to what you're doing now and how it makes you feel. If anything makes you feel not great, try removing it (one day at a time). No need to fill the space --a better habit often comes about on its own.
Whatever your mini wind-down is, once you know it, you can rely on it.
Sleep is awesome
Once you've figured out where you fall in the spectrum, own it. And do whatever you can to get the sleep YOU need. That makes your mornings better, which tends to make you a nicer person, too.
While you're doing all this noticing of how you feel on waking up, keep an eye out for yucky morning symptoms! Some indicate an underlying health issue that you should get checked out. If you're concerned, click here to read an article on several common ones.
Treating yourself right isn't always easy, but you're worth it.
Go make your mornings the way you want them to be!
Observing with you,