Sunday, April 24, 2011

How to be a morning person

There are tremendous benefits to being a morning person. When you get up early, you experience a part of the day that many people miss - the first few hours of a day are calmer, quieter - more pristine - and for morning people, these hours are our most productive. 

Being a "morning person" involves little more than the simple mental resolution to be one. Plenty of people have gone from an era of dragging themselves out of bed in the morning to one of rarely hitting the snooze button. (I know because I was one - going from someone who dreaded 5 am to someone who relishes it.) If we've learned to enjoy mornings, you can too.

There are a lot of different ideas behind becoming a morning person - different strokes for different folks - but here are the few things that have worked for me:

1. Have something to look forward to. This is rule number one for a reason: it is the only rule that really matters. If you have something - no matter how small - that makes you want to get up, all you need to do is remind yourself what it is. It could be seeing someone special that afternoon, or wearing jeans because it's Friday, or something as easy as using your brand new shampoo or drinking a good cup of coffee. (When I worked as a barista and opened the cafe on Sundays, what compelled me to get up at 4:30 each morning was... well, first, a sense of responsibility... but secondly, having a cup of good coffee once I got there.)

2. Commit to getting up. Just do it. Don't overthink it. Don't dwell on the fact that the bed is oh-so-comfy (of course it is) or you just hate Monday mornings (we can work on that too.) If you give yourself a chance to consider sleeping in an option, of course you'll do it - so just get up. If it helps, adopt a quick phrase or saying (Benjamin Franklin's is popular) to give yourself a kick-start. (When I was on swim team in high school, the last thing I wanted was to envision myself submerged in water doing freestyle "bucket sprints" when it was 12 degrees outside (swimming is a winter sport for women.) I recall thinking the line from the Disney classic: "get up, Bambi. You must get up.") Nerd-alert, I know, but again, its not about being rational. Just commit to getting up, and have something short to urge you to do so.

3. Drink water after getting up. Maybe this isn't something anybody else would recommend when trying to be a morning person, but when you consider that your body is 60%+ water, re-hydrating will likely help it function better. I drink a glass or two while I'm getting ready, and - for me - it feels almost more effective than coffee at clearing the cobwebs. Maybe it's because I live in a very dry climate, or don't drink enough water the night before, but water is one of my secrets and may also work for you.

A few last notes on trying to get up earlier (and actually enjoy it) include: if you're going from a late wake-up to a much earlier one (more than two hours), I highly recommend working in increments. Get up 30 minutes earlier for a week, and then 30 minutes earlier than that the week after. Go to bed earlier in similar increments. And, lastly, don't get back in bed. I like to make my bed right away; it looks far less inviting when the covers are smoothed out, and very crisp and calming when you get back in at night.

And that's it! Some of these things may work, some may not. The trick is to figuring out what your recipe is for being a morning person, and working toward it. The benefits of doing so are endless.

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