Most of us have a pretty underwhelming relationship with mornings. As soon as our circadian rhythms kick in we deploy the snooze button to act as hostage negotiator between us and our precious sleep.
But while it makes sense on paper that more shut eye would make us feel better, the tendency to think our days start at our desk could be doing us more harm than good.
When you read profiles of successful people the one thing they have in common is a morning routine. But nowhere in the details will you find the words “I regularly skip breakfast,” “I race around the house like it’s on fire” or “I jump on the train with wet hair because who has time to dry it? Am I right?” Instead they approach the hours before 9am as an opportunity rather than an inconvenience.
With this in mind, six months ago I decided to make the change from snooze addict to morning person and much to my surprise it’s been the best thing I’ve done in a long time.
Stress takes a frightening amount of energy and spending the first hour and a bit of your day in a sweaty panic is a sure fire way to destroy any miniscule benefit you got from 20 minutes of extra sleep. Until I started giving myself more time I didn’t realise how much this rush was wearing me out and now if I don’t get up early I actually feel more exhausted during the day… go figure.
So how much extra time do you need? For me the magic number is two hours before I start the arduous commute to my home office, so somewhere between 5:30-6:00am. Now before you throw your alarm clock at me and scream “I start work at 4am, that’s impossible!” What you can achieve will depend entirely on your desire to make the change and the reality of your circumstances. If you’re a committed night owl you can forget it because the aim is not to find a way to function on two hours sleep. Getting up earlier means going to bed earlier but you don’t have to jump in the deep end straight away. Even giving yourself an extra 15 minutes to eat breakfast will make a huge difference.
So what do you do with all this extra time? Again, it depends on you but here are some suggestions…
Let me preface this by saying you don’t need to don the compression tights and run a marathon at 5am. All the research suggests a short high-intensity workout is the best option but I’m all for playing to your strengths. If you hate doing something you’ll never keep it up and I hate hard-core exercise in the morning. It’s just not my thing. So instead I knock out a 20-30 minute walk and I love it. By the time I’m finished I’m wide-awake and most importantly, feeling good about myself for getting up.
The pews at my church #fitness #step #aerobicstep #aerobicsclass #exercise A photo posted by Rachel Corbett (@msrachelcorbett) on Aug 29, 2015 at 6:46pm PDT
Skipping breakfast is one of the biggest mistakes people make, especially if they’re trying to lose weight. Your body, brain and metabolism need fuel to do their job so don’t throw them a measly cup of coffee and wonder why you feel rubbish at 11am. Taking the time to sit down and eat breakfast will give you the energy and focus you need to face the day.
There’s no excuse for skipping breakfast with these bad boys in your repertoire (post continues after video):
It’s time to stop thinking writing in a journal is reserved for 13 year old girls who start every entry with ‘Dear Diary.’ A lot of the world’s most successful people, male and female, journal every day. There are a million thoughts rolling around our heads, often subconsciously, and getting them out onto paper can be a great way to calm your mind. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare; it doesn’t even have to make sense. Just write and see what comes out.
I love reading but used to squeeze in a measly ten minutes before passing out at night. Now I read for at least 20-30 minutes in the morning and it’s my favourite part of the day.
While meditation isn’t my bag (yet) a lot of people swear by this. Taking ten minutes to calm your mind and centre yourself before you go to work will put you streets ahead of anyone racing into the office in a mad panic.
So why not take a break from your snooze button and see if you can become a morning person. If I can do it, anyone can.