Presumably if you’re reading this then like me, you’re not a what is typically described as a ‘morning person’. Let’s be honest though, do these people who naturally leap out of bed in the morning, bright-eyed and ready to face the day even exist? I don’t know about you but I’ve certainly never met one! However, I do believe that it is absolutely possible to train your mind and body to make mornings much more pleasant and productive. Up until revamping my approach around 6 months ago, I was the polar opposite of a ‘morning person’. My ‘routine’ would usually go something like this:
7.30am – Alarm goes off. Hit snooze and think about how cold my room is and how much I hate leaving my bed.
7.38am – Alarm goes off again. Hit snooze again.
7.46am – Alarm goes off again. Turn alarm off completely.
8.00am – Scroll through social media.
8.30am – Shit, I fell back asleep with my phone in my hand. Scramble out of bed in a panic, quickly brush teeth and get dressed – no time for luxuries such as breakfast, applying makeup or even brushing hair.
8.40am – Run around the house aimlessly (and frustratingly, usually up and down the stairs around 5 times) looking for something/multiple things I need but can’t find.
8.50am – Set off for college late, usually feeling stressed, unprepared and ugly.
Clearly, this isn’t an ideal way to start the day. However, it is possible to completely turn around those stressful mornings. Here are 5 totally do-able changes that have helped me, and can hopefully be useful for you, too:
1) Prepare the night before
If, like me, you tend to be a bit grouchy in the morning, then you want to be avoiding the potential frustration of not being able to find anything you need. Decide what you’re going to wear and either lay it out ready or just make sure you know where it is. If you’re going to school or college, pack your bag and put out any folders you need the night before. Preparing breakfast the night before is also really helpful. I have the same oat-based breakfast every morning and it’s so amazing! I’ll make sure to share the recipe for this in a post sometime, as it’s so cheap to make and literally takes 2 minutes every night. Having breakfast done and ready to eat straight away definitely gives me something to look forward to!
2) Set your alarm earlier
I mean, this is an obvious one, but it’s useless if you don’t learn to respond to your alarm correctly. You need to try different strategies and figure out a method that works best for you. A lot of people suggest putting your phone or alarm at the other side of the room; the idea being that you have to get out of bed to switch it off. Personally, I prefer a gentler approach. If I have to leave the house at 8.45am, as I often do, I set my alarm for 6.45am. In fact, whatever time I have to leave by, I just set my alarm for 2 hours beforehand. This may seem excessive, but I would much rather get up in good time and have a slow-paced, leisurely start to the day. So say my alarm goes off at 6.45am, I don’t actually get up then, and I like that because it makes me dread my alarm less. After this, I give myself half an hour to wake up properly and just relax in bed. I often scroll through social media at this time which is probably a bad habit, but it definitely wakes up my brain. At 7.15am I get up, and despite having spent half an hour lounging around, I still half an hour and a half to get ready. I always have an alarm set for 7.15am, just in case I were to fall asleep again in that half an hour.
3) Start the day with water
This is absolutely life-changing. I have no idea why it makes you feel so good, but starting the day by chugging a load of water makes you feel so refreshed and energized. When I was rushing around, I didn’t drink anything and was left feeling groggy, hungry and headachy by mid-morning. Nowadays, the first thing I do when I get up is drink half a litre (or a normal sized water bottle) of water. In fact, I love water so much that I dedicated a whole blog post to it back in January.
4) Get to bed at a good time
Another obvious but very effective one. For a few years I was an insomniac and would be forced to function on about 3 hours of sleep per night. This led me to believe I didn’t need much sleep, because being constantly tired became the norm. I think this may be the case for a lot of people. However, it’s only since regaining a healthy relationship with sleep that I’ve realised I actually need much more than I used to believe. Personally, I find the right amount of sleep time is 9-10 hours per day; any less I wake up tired and any more I wake up groggy and lethargic. Everybody has an ideal number of hours they should be sleeping for, although it varies from person to person. If you haven’t already, it’s definitely something worth figuring out; too little or too much sleep can really make your days (particularly the mornings) tougher.
5) Write a to-do list
It’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed in the morning, especially if you know you have loads to do during the day. One thing that I find really sets me up for a good day is writing a to-do list in my planner. It doesn’t have to be detailed, but there’s nothing like getting everything out of your head and into a list to stop it feeling like such a huge task. I don’t know why this works – it just does. I think it sort of ‘un-muddles’ your head a bit, making everything seem clearer and more doable.
After learning to incorporate these 5 things into my life, I’ve noticed a remarkable change in my views towards the morning. Nowadays, I barely ever have terribly long lie-ins as I simply don’t feel the need to anymore. However impossible I thought it would be, mornings are no longer the enemy! All it takes is a few small changes – it doesn’t have to be anything drastic – and you too could build a structured and relaxed routine which works for you. I guarantee it will have a knock-on effect and start to improve many areas in your life. As an example, here’s what my morning routine looks like now;
6.45am – Alarm goes off. Scroll through social media and slowly wake up.
7.15am – Second alarm goes off. Get up, drink half a litre of water.
7.30am – Eat breakfast with a cup of tea.
8.55am – Write to-do list for the day in planner.
8.10am – Get dressed and sort out hair and makeup.
8.35am – Get everything together that I need e.g. folders, planner etc.
8.45am – Leave the house, calm and ready for the day ahead.
The importance of having a relaxed and productive plan for the morning is underrated; I think we often don’t realise how much the quality of our entire day rests on the way we utilise those first few hours. I guess the phrase ‘got out of the wrong side of the bed’ has a bit of a deeper meaning. If a morning has been stressful or rushed, it easily has the power to frustrate us for the rest of the day! This is why I believe it’s so important to take control of those mornings, so they can no longer control us.