Health and Wellness: 12 Tips for Getting up Early
Do you drag yourself out of bed each day? Read on and take these tips to heart to make your mornings better!
Over the years as a yoga teacher, I’ve had (and currently have) early morning classes that require me to get up before 6 am. This never gets easy. The funny irony about it is that I am not a morning person but yet I teach several early morning yoga classes. When I was growing up, my father would call me “Lucy” (from the Peanuts comic strip) because I was so grouchy at breakfast.
I was thinking today, as I checked in students for the 6:30 am class, about how we motivate our body and mind to get up early. There are certainly better ways to do it than others. I see people on their way to work pounding energy drinks, while running to the bus. This is, of course, an awful way to start the day. So what are the best ways to ensure you’ll get up on time and feel energized? Here are a few ideas:
Get your sleep. It almost goes without saying but in order to get up, you have to get some good sleep. There is a great deal of information online about the benefits of sleeping. It’s your body’s restoration time and without it, we can’t function well. We trick ourselves into thinking we can, but that’s just trickery. Figure out how much sleep you need and get it each night.
Don’t hit the snooze bar. Stand up. You may think those extra few minutes of sleep are sweet but let’s be honest; you know you should be getting up, so why delay the inevitable? You’re only making your transition to the day harder and more traumatic. If you have to, put your alarm away from the bed so you have to get up to turn it off.
Pick the right sound for an alarm. There are many options now for wake up sounds, versus the old style “ringing” of the old fashion alarm clock. You can wake up to light, the sound of the ocean, music of your choice or any number of bells and beeping. Think of something that will inspire you to get up or remind you of something pleasant.
Make gratitude a part of your first waking moment. I read in a book once about a man that woke up and every step he took was filled with thoughts of gratitude. “Today, I am grateful for….” If that’s too much for you to consider, make one thought part of your early routine. Connect the thought to the action of your feet hitting the floor. Say it out loud: “Today, I am grateful for….” This literally will change your attitude from resentment to one of appreciation.
Stretch. Take the first minute with your feet on the floor to reach up to the sky. Take a few stretches side to side to get the blood flowing. You’ll instantly feel a bit more awake.
Have something nice to look at. Maybe it's flowers by the bedside or a favorite picture. It could be an inspirational saying on a post-it in the bathroom on the mirror or a picture from a magazine on your kitchen cupboard. Whatever inspires you or gives you a feeling of peace, put it in your line of sight.
If you have a pet, talk to it to start to wake up. I have a dog and some days, I wish she could walk herself. But truthfully, I’m so grateful to wake up to her happy attitude, grace and loving nature. She is always in a good mood. When I wake up, I always ask her, “Did you have a good sleep?” and she wags her tail in agreement. It automatically makes my mood lighter. I also give her a huge hug and I can literally feel any stress melt from my body.
Give yourself something to look forward to for the day ahead. We can’t all have days that include the beach and a spa treatment. But we need to try to find one thing to give us hope, inspiration and motivation. Maybe it is a yoga class first thing or a lunch with a friend or a presentation that we know we’re going to really enjoy. Whatever it is, let the thought of that energize your body to get out of bed.
Put your clothes out the night before. Take a tip from your preschool days when mom would set out your clothes for the next day. She did it for her, to decrease her own stress in the morning. You can do it too. There’s nothing worse than fumbling for a belt in the dark or standing dumbfounded in front of your closet at 6 am.
Have a routine. Routines create efficiency and decrease stress. Doing things in the same order each morning will give you a sense of peace. I think of my morning routine like my yoga practice; I set up my mat and props the same way each time and it grounds me even on days when I am resisting practice. On mornings when I’m having trouble getting up, having a routine gives me the structure I need.
Use your drishti. In yoga practice, we call a focused gaze, “drishti,” which means “eyes at one point.” In the morning, use your gaze to keep a sense of calm in the body. Instead of multi-tasking and running all over the house, keep a steady gaze as you move through your tasks.
Be choosy about what you put on TV or radio. Your mind and body are sensitive in the early morning hours and the last thing you should do is assault an already delicate system with commercials and news stories about crime and nasty weather.
All of these tips need to be tempered by the reality of your life. Of course, if you have children, you’re probably reading this, thinking, “ Yeah, right, come to my house and see if any of this works!” While that may be the case, good habits don’t come easy and sometimes it’s what we think is the hardest thing (eating healthy, giving up smoking) that actually turns out to be accessible once we try it a few times. Maybe all of these tips won’t work for you but some will. Make a custom list and try it for a week. See if it results in smoother days, less stress and a more grounded feeling, especially in the morning.