I have absolutely, positively never been a morning person. Throughout college, I was addicted to the snooze button on my alarm; I’d press it, slap it, or slam it every morning until it was too late to shower or too late to eat a healthy breakfast. Eventually, I was frantically trying to get to class and then work on time. I convinced myself that these crazy mornings weren’t my fault, I just wasn’t a morning person. The truth is that it was my fault, I lacked both discipline and self-respect. A friend recommended that I try developing a morning routine. I took that advice and discovered that I was less reactive and had enough time to stay on schedule all day long. In time, I actually looked forward to getting up in the morning and nurturing myself before the rest of the day.
Here’s what to remember for a great start to your day:
1. Your morning routine starts the night before
Before you go to bed, lay out your clothes for the morning, including any workout clothes. You are more likely to actually work out if you have your clothes ready. This simple step takes less than five minutes but will save you time and stress in the morning.
Next, create your to-do list for the following day. How many times has your mind raced as you tried to go to sleep, thinking of all the things you need to do the next day? If you write them down, you can leave them on the paper. They are all there ready for you to take them on … tomorrow, with a good night of sleep behind you.
2. Your first thoughts matter
I used to wake up dreading the day, fixating on any unpleasant parts to come. I knew that had to change. I learned to use different tactics to retrain my brain, sending up a prayer of thanks or immediately making an entry in my gratitude journal.
It also helps to have someone hold you accountable. A friend and I commiserated about our issue with “first thoughts” and vowed to text each other one good thing each morning. Two years later, we still start every day with a text, most often sharing the one thing we are most looking forward to that day. I now find myself falling asleep thinking of what I am going to share, rather than the endless items on my to-do list.
3. Your day should start with exercise
Before I made exercise part of my morning routine, going for a run or brisk walk would be on my list of things to accomplish that day, but more often than not I’d find myself getting ready for bed lamenting that I hadn’t found time to work out. Incorporating exercise into my morning routine gives me energy and confidence to go forward with the day. Sometimes I think to myself, as I look at a big task or uncomfortable situation, “Whatever, I already ran five miles, I can handle this!”
Now that I have a morning routine, I have trained my body and mind to do these tasks automatically. I can go through the motions half-asleep, without thinking. I go through the day feeling capable, not frantic. I wake up thankful for this time to nurture myself, this time for just me. I actually look forward to waking up! Who knows, maybe I’m becoming a morning person after all?