I get that many are not morning people. I’ve been a morning person all my life – – once I’m up, I’m up and I’m usually good (illness and annoying exes notwithstanding.) But even I – – Queen of the Early Risers – – have had hair-pulling moments in the mornings, what with preparing for work, showering, dressing, eating, feeding and walking my dog. Never mind when I was a parent!
I absolutely cannot stand starting my day rushed and in a panic. I need my quiet downtime to start my day and it took illness in order for me to recognize and acknowledge how much I needed it and what steps would make accomplishing that a snap (or easier, at the very least.) And lucky you – – I’m going to share them.
Get enough sleep. This is a no-brainer, really. Your car won’t run for 100 miles with only 50 miles’ worth of fuel in the tank so why should you? I can’t tell you what time to go to bed – – what’s early to you may be too late for me – – and I can’t tell you how many hours you need. Many experts claim that the standard 8 hours should be the rule but you know what you need. My optimum number, generally, is seven. With seven hours of sleep, I’m golden. So if I need to rise at 5:30 a.m. during the week, that means I need to be in bed, ready for sleep, before 10:30 p.m. See? Simple.
With that good sleep in mind, go to bed when you’re tired. I can be bad about this – – it’s very easy to think “It’s only nine, I’ll stay up just a little while longer,” or “I’ll lay down on the sofa and watch The Real Housewives” (no judgment.) If you’re feeling drowsy while watching t.v. or reading or whatever, get ready for bed. Get into bed. It doesn’t matter what time it is. Your body doesn’t care. When it’s tired, it’s tired.
Make sure too that you turn off the electronics half an hour to an hour before bedtime – – they are known to stimulate which can translate to difficulty falling asleep. (And watching/listening to them can easily keep you up past your designated bed time!)
When it’s time to get up, get up. Do not hit “snooze”. Absolutely don’t do it. You will feel worse (your snooze sleep is not good sleep) and you will start off your morning late. And if you try saying that you set your alarm early intentionally to hit snooze . . . just don’t. When your alarm goes off, get up.
The most important step to having your mornings be a breeze is to prepare ahead of time.
* Select your clothing for the next day and lay it out or hang it up where you can quickly access it. That includes your underwear, shoes and accessories.
* Do you take your lunch? (And you should – – not only healthier for your body but also for your wallet.) Prepare your lunch the evening before and have it ready to go in your fridge so you can grab it on your way out.
* Have a pet that is fed in the morning? Do the same for them – – prepare their meal the night before and cover their dish with Saran Wrap or aluminum foil and put it away until the next morning when all you have to do is peel back the wrap and let them at it.
* If you need to put gas in your car, do it on the way home the night before. I know, you’re tired and you just want to get home. I get it. But taking that extra five to ten minutes to go ahead and fill up, especially if you pass by the gas station on the way home, is so much easier than having to take the time the next morning. Especially if you might be running late. I speak from loads of experience on this one.
* Structure fifteen minutes of emergency/back-up time into your morning schedule. For example, if you need to leave your house by 7:45, be ready to walk out the door by 7:30. This is particularly good if you have one of those morning where your dog barfs on the carpet in front of you or you spill your morning coffee down the front of your shirt. Don’t show up to work in a stained shirt and claim it happened in the car (guilty!). And if nothing happens, you have an extra fifteen minutes to meditate, read or get a head start on traffic. This plan has saved me many a morning.
* Make your bed. Okay, I didn’t make my bed for years. I always felt it was a colossal waste of time unless I was expecting company. You know what? Making your bed makes you feel good. It also makes your bedroom look nice and neat and there is nothing like crawling into a fresh bed with crispy cool sheets at the end of the day. (Unless Robert Downey, Jr. happens to be in there also. Just saying.) As an added bonus, it only takes you about two minutes to do it.
* Have a routine and stick to it. By that I mean rising at the same time each day, even weekends. You can cut yourself some slack on Saturday and Sunday but keep it within an hour so your body isn’t thrown totally off kilter.
* Give yourself something to look forward to with your routine. Maybe it’s sitting down to have a morning cup of coffee while you browse a favorite magazine or a quick yoga workout or even listening to music or watching a show you’ve DVR’d. Whatever it is, give yourself a reason to rise and shine!
* Consider a gratitude journal. This one kind of goes with the suggestion above but writing in a gratitude journal each morning not only gives you something to look forward to but a reason to feel grateful for your life and a fantastic way to start your day.
Have at it, morning warriors! What do you think? Is there anything you do to get your mornings off to a great start?