Waking Up Early
How to Plan Your Morning for Good Mental Health
In recent years I’ve come to love, love, love my early morning routine. I’ve had the fortunate pleasure of holding several unique kinds of jobs during, and after graduate school. Some of my workdays began at 6am. Other days, I clocked in right before noon. My varying start times forced me to figure out a morning routine. After fumbling through my mornings, rushing, and being late, I’ve discovered a simple morning plan. It gives me tons more energy for the day, and a bit more sanity too!
Early morning jobs forced me into productivity. After the initial grumbling of waking up at 5am, I found that my 6am start times actually helped me learn to focus. I realized I enjoy productivity earlier in the day and resting at night. What a novel concept, right? My later start times at work forced me into this fake feeling rest. I didn’t enjoy this as much because I lollygagged, dilly dallied, or basically did nothing with my time before I clocked in. I felt lazy without feeling refreshed.
Now, I have a somewhat flexible schedule that I manage on my own. At first, I wasn’t sure if that freedom was a blessing or a curse. I decided to turn it into a blessing by following the morning flow I learned from my early morning jobs. I learned to work harder earlier, so that’s what I do now. I work to wake up early, and when I do, I put effort into things that matter most to me.
I am a morning person.
*NOTE: The above statement does not include the first 15 minutes of my waking experience. I have been known to accidentally punch my husband in the face when he’s tried to roll over for a hug, or kiss me good morning. Perhaps, this reaction can be blamed on growing up in a rough neighborhood. Who knows?
Becoming a “morning person” did not happen overnight. Waking up at 5am every day has been a gradual progression. I’ve only kept up with this routine because I’ve come to know myself better. I know I need time to be alone. I need dedicated, uninterrupted time to focus on my goals. I need to take little steps to accomplish big dreams or I get overwhelmed or discouraged. Weather I’m jetting off to a morning meeting downtown, or about to drive an hour away through the desert, I subtract 3 1/2 hours from my work start time. It takes being on top on my planner, but it’s worth it.
Personally, this routine has made me more responsible, less stressed, and feeling accomplished in areas I previous felt like a failure. I use to view late start times at work as an excuse to lie in bed. Now, I use my flexible schedule as challenge. My reward equals however many hours I use before I press go at work.
I don’t always wake up at 5am. I do, however, give myself 3 1/2 hours before I need to be at work or start my workday.
Here’s how I see it:
The first hour is for attacking my goals.
The second hour is for learning.
The third hour is for bathing, dressing.
30 minutes for commuting.
I want to get a painting done for a client? I roll out of bed at jump into the art studio – yes, in my pajamas. I use this time to write posts, paint, or work on developing my business model.
Using my first hour of consciousness has forced me into NO EXCUSES. I can’t get distracted. I’m present, so I work.
For me, it’s important to connect spiritually in the morning. Reading, journaling, and prayer help. When I don’t rise early, there’s no shine in my day. I dedicate the second hour to learning. Sometimes I read a prayer book, scripture, or poetry. Other times I do this, plus review a quick newspaper article that interests me, or gloss over a beauty how-to. Learning helps me be grateful and stay curious.
Good self-care takes time. On most days, I like to give myself a solid hour to shower, dress, moisturize, and put mascara on slowly. Here is where you’ll literally see the payoff of waking up early to primp those lashes slow. Is that how they’re supposed to look? Hm, wow.
We all have visions of the perfect morning. It was a long road for me to finally realize that I need to wake up early. I have too many hopes and dreams not too. My mental health and well-being are on the line when I don’t maximize my mornings. I hope blocking out time like this will help you wake up happy, and go to sleep at night feeling a bit more like you lived your life, instead of just survived the day!
Top of the morning to you!