Make the Most of Your Mornings
Updated: Feb 28, 2021
Your fifth alarm of the morning blares, and you know you can’t ignore this one. You’ve already been half-awake for an hour, but now you need to get started with your day. For some, hopping out of bed in the morning can be easy - the possibilities are limitless, after all - for others, not so much.
Lately, it seems everywhere I turn, people are waking up early and accomplishing more than I do in a full day before 8 am. I find myself stunned by those who can get themselves out of bed, work out twice, walk their dog, meditate, and make breakfast, plus a smoothie or two before the sun is up. “My 5:30 am morning routine” and “the millionaire mentality” crop up on my TikTok For You Page so frequently, it’s like the algorithm thinks I want to be getting up earlier.
In all honesty, I've never been much of an early riser, and I doubt that will be changing any time soon. Last year, I often found myself waking up in a panic five minutes before my 8 am chemistry discussion and half-walking, half-running to class before quizzes were handed out. It’s easy to get down on yourself when you wake up late, or even right in the nick of time, but there are a few easy fixes to make your mornings more enjoyable and maximize the time you have for yourself at the beginning of each day.
Rise and shine! It’s easy to grab your phone, shut off your alarm, and lie in bed for a few more minutes as your mind races to round up all your tasks to be completed, meetings to be had, and the things that weren’t quite finished when you went to bed the night before. If you have plenty of time to relax, sure, take the time to fully collect yourself before crawling out of your covers. If not, it's really helpful to take your mind off of all those things you need to get done and count down from five (no fractions!). Once you hit one, you have to be sitting up and getting out of bed. Getting up once you get to one is probably the easiest promise to make yourself and keep. If you find yourself leaving huge gaps in your countdown or even dozing off again right after, I recommend getting a second alarm (I use a tiny analog alarm) to set the night before and leave across the room. It’s a no-fail way to get you up and on your feet.
Leave your phone alone! Let’s consider an alternative situation -- your alarm sounds, you shut it off and immediately begin sorting through your notifications. You’ve hopefully just spent at least eight hours (good one, I know) blissfully oblivious to the world around you. Of course, you’ll want to check in on any missed messages, random promotional emails, and Canvas notifications. The downside to this tendency is that it keeps you in bed longer and can have you feeling overwhelmed way too early in the day. Once you turn off your alarm, make an effort to not unlock your phone, and spend the first twenty to thirty minutes of your day with no screen time. Experts recommend spending the first full thirty minutes of your morning on other, more productive habits, and that’s what we’re looking at next.
Re-hydrate! First thing once your feet hit the floor: drink a glass of water. Your body gets dehydrated overnight since you aren’t consuming any water during that time. Drinking water first thing in the morning can increase your alertness, help get rid of that mental fog, and rehydrate your body, especially your brain (which is 73 percent water). I’ll admit, this isn’t the most exciting way to start your day, but it will leave you with a greater sense of clarity.
Get moving! Intense aerobic exercise isn’t necessary, but try some light stretches, a walk to the kitchen to refill your water bottle, or just a couple of jumping jacks. Getting your body moving and your blood pumping will build on the effects of the water, helping to wake you up.
Put your thoughts on paper! My final recommendation to have more productive and satisfying mornings is to find a form of journaling that works for you. I know some people journal frequently and others can’t be bothered, so this can look different for everyone. I’ve been trying it out the past couple of months, and have found it meditative. What works best for me is writing down three positive affirmations, answering one or two reflective questions, and then making a list of goals for the day. I spend around fifteen minutes journaling each morning, and it’s a great way to get all those loose thoughts out of my head and onto the page. If you’re interested in some journaling prompts for reflection, I’ve been loving some found here. If you don’t want to dig too deep right as you’re waking up, try jotting down five things you’re thankful for or proud of yourself for each day, or even just what you remember from your dreams.
Remember, you can’t measure your day with how early you start, but with what you accomplish and learn. I hope that adopting at least one of these habits helps make your mornings more productive and something to look forward to! Congratulations to everyone for making it through the first full month of classes!