Monday, March 24, 2014

How to Wake Up Early

After reading last week’s article on problem solving, Tina casually mentioned wanting to wake up early. I felt inspired to write a piece on how to wake up early. For the past 4 months, I’ve been consistently waking up early—5am specifically. This article contain tips I’ve found helpful to become an early riser.
4:45 a.m. arrives and our bedroom becomes a full on symphony of battling alarms: my husband’s starts at 4:45, mine follows at 5:00, his chimes back in again at 5:00 (in unison with mine), and depending on the snooze capacity that day … we may even have one more finale at 5:15 a.m.
The coffee grinder is also programmed to go off at 5 a.m. The aroma and grinding sound of coffee beans travels all the way from the downstairs kitchen to our bedroom upstairs.

One year ago, this would have been an awful disturbance. One year ago, this would have been utter noise. One year ago, I would happily ignore any attempt of waking up early, curl back up in the cool bed sheets, and snuggle in that much more comfortably, knowing I could get away with sleeping in for a few more hours.
I was not a morning person, regardless of how much I tried to be.
Today, this has changed.
I am humbled and proud to be a recovering night owl with so much joy in waking up early well before sunrise. There is a certain bliss that comes from waking up to the darkness, right before the sun comes out.
There is a sense of peace and belonging in waking up before most of the world. There is an abundance of clarity and creativity that waits for me at 5 a.m. This routine of wellness-waking–as I like to call it–has brought tremendous energy and gratitude to each day.

How to Wake Up Early: 3 Keys

Here are three ways to transform you into a morning person, wake up well, and sustain the practice. The trick: In order to wake up early, it starts with the night before.

1. Prioritize

To shift from waking up two to three hours earlier means that you will have to prioritize tasks during the evening.
You may not be able to get everything done that you’re used to; however, the key to waking up early is to get to bed early.
So, prioritize the non-negotiable tasks—make a list of the recurring evening chores, rituals, must-dos—and let go of the others. This may mean sacrificing a favorite TV show—if you find this difficult—try to combine tasks, such as folding laundry while enjoying the TV show.

2. Disconnect & Prepare For Bed

Set a bedtime for yourself.
If your bedtime is 10 pm, attempt to disconnect from everything by 9 pm—TV, PC, phone, anything that requires your full energy—one full hour before lying down.
Then, take that last hour to make preparations for tomorrow morning: whether that is packing tomorrow’s lunch, picking out the gym clothes you’ll be wearing, organizing the calendar for tomorrow, or preparing the work outfit. Try to do as much during the evening to allow for ease of waking up hassle-free.

3. Sleep

We often compromise sleep, in order to squeeze in as much as we can in our day. Sustainability to the early morning “wellness waking” lies in the quality of sleep that you’re getting. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
I recently attended a presentation by Tony Schwartz, an expert on energy and productivity, and the CEO of The Energy Project. He states:
Physical energy is the foundation of all dimensions of energy, and sleep is the foundation of physical energy. There is no single behavior that more fundamentally influences our effectiveness in waking life.
Sleep deprivation takes a powerful toll on our health, our emotional well-being, and our cognitive functioning. Make getting 7-8 hours of sleep your highest priority. Sleep is often the first thing we’re willing to give up in an effort to get more done. Even small amounts of sleep deprivation make us vastly less efficient.

Motivation to Wake Up Early

The evening ritual smoothness determines whether or not the morning will work out as planned. So, ensure you’re prioritizing the non-negotiable tasks, disconnecting and preparing for tomorrow, and, most importantly, getting in at least 7 hours of sleep.
I believe that waking up early is–fundamentally– reliant on a healthy evening routine, consistent practice, and finding something desirable in the morning which can inspire you to jump out of bed.
You don’t necessarily have to get up to run 3 miles … or do yoga … or walk the dog; there are many other early morning possibilities that can kick-off your day with a state of wellness.

6 Things To Do In The Morning

Here are 6 ideas that you can start doing in the morning that will yield positive results on your overall wellbeing:

1. Journal

Wake up, find your favorite spot—whether in your home or at the local coffee shop—and write. There doesn’t need to be a theme. Simply relax and write: whatever is on your mind, let it flow onto the page.
There is clarity to be found in simply freefalling onto a piece of paper. This is a concept called “Morning Pages” by Julia Cameron—basically writing down on paper a stream of consciousness without editing, and doing so first thing in the morning.

2. Be Outside

The outdoors, whether a stroll around the block or to the park, can be incredibly nourishing to your senses and well-being.
Find your way to the front door and just take a stroll outside—zoom in on the way the sun feels on your body, the wind on your face, or the ground beneath your feet. Just be outside and allow nature to breathe with you.

3. Nourish your mind

The early morning is an optimal time to pick up a good book or read your favorite, refreshing blog (such as lovely TSN). It is a gift to you, your day and all the people you encounter by entering into the morning with a sense of mental, positive nourishment.

4. Nurture your body

Connect with the thing your body is asking for. Perhaps you have been sluggish and could benefit from a cardio workout to get your heart pumping. Perhaps, you have been overworked and could benefit from some yoga stretching.
Perhaps, your body feels soft to you and it’s time to tone up by hitting the weights at the gym. Nurture your body by giving what it is asking for.

5. Listen

Tune into your mood and feed it with music that is soothing. Listen to that uplifting podcast, the favorite song, or the energizing beat. Allow the music, the positive feelings, to accompany you on your morning journey.

6. Just Sit

Perhaps it may seem contradictory to wake up early to simply sit, but it truly can be a gift to the how the rest of your day unfolds.
I admire my husband’s ability to wake up at 4:45AM and just sit in silence for 15 minutes before he gets ready for work. I have witnessed such a shift in his ability to deal with the stresses in his day with much more ease.
By taking a few moments in the morning to first reach for your breath—instead of your cell phone or the morning paper—this will set the stage for calmness and clarity to follow.

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