What is the difference between a great day and a terrible one?
Awhile back I decided to really figure this one out. I decided to first analyze my day from the beginning.
Up until that point I mostly just chalked my days up to chance knowing that there are some good days and not so good days. I dealt with them as they happened. But are they the result of pure chance? Did I have control of my day or were the “bad” circumstances taking control?
Mornings: ugh mornings were sooo difficult for me. I hated having to wake up and always felt like I needed to sleep more. My mornings were definitely what I needed to focus on.
Were there certain things I did in the morning that could make the rest of the day easier or more manageable? If so, did I have the power to make every day a great one?
Turns out I do!
Through some trial and error I discovered that the way I organized my morning had a big impact on how the rest of my day flowed and whether or not I perceived it as “good” or “bad”. Everyone is different so what works for me might not work the same for you, but if you find that what you’re currently doing isn’t actually working then keep reading!
#1. Get up when you wake up! It is seriously the best way for me to start the day. When I was working full time I had to set my alarm every morning and sometimes I would wake up 5 or 10 minutes before my alarm. Don’t we all? A common reaction of mine was to feel annoyed and even more tired knowing that I am missing out on those few but precious minutes of sleep.
I also might snuggle back wakefully in the covers until the alarm goes off trying to extend the awesome feeling of a good night’s sleep. While this might feel good temporarily, it also makes me more drowsy and makes it even harder to get out of bed when I do. One day I decided to do neither of those things and just got up when I naturally woke up. Game changer! Doing just this one thing has probably made the biggest difference in my mornings.
Even when I have <4 hours of sleep, I get up and feel so much better than if I force myself to sleep a few more hours.
Why? In general I've learned to tune in, listen and trust the signals my body sends me. I do this when deciding what to eat, how much and also in regards to exercise and feeling my body's limits, etc. Why should waking up and sleeping be exceptions?
I've found that by following my natural sleep cycle (which might or might not have me wake up before the alarm) I instantly feel that I'm in control of the day and starting off with some good momentum. No more snooze button for me!
Let's face it, to be productive we all have wake up at some point. By trial and error the more I kept at this, the more I saw no sense in delaying the inevitable. On days when I do try to go back to sleep, I feel even more groggy and a bit resistant to start the morning which can carry over to the rest of my day.
#2 Get enough sleep! This is knock yourself over the head obvious, but worth mentioning because if you don’t give yourself enough time to rest your sleep cycle will be out of wack and you will never feel ready to get up. I’ve found it is best for me to go to sleep at the same time every night when possible. Just try it! This is common advice from sleep experts, and surprise, it does actually work….for me at least.
One night I unknowingly did an experiment. I let go of the discipline I kept up for weeks and decided to stay up late watching tv shows with my husband. BIG mistake! I naturally woke up at my usual time, couldn’t go back to sleep and was tired and groggy all day. Even with a nap I still felt thrown off and tired. All it took was that one day for me to feel the importance of maintaining a specific bedtime.
I’m not saying that I never stay up past my preferable bedtime, but when I do, I do it knowing the consequences and understanding that I need to prepare for the kind of day I will have tomorrow.
#3 Take some time for yourself. Go for a run or walk. Meditate. Do yoga. Stretch. Read the newspaper, a religious text or a chapter in a regular book. Listen to uplifting songs or your favorite playlist. Complete a quick project. These are just a few examples off the top of my head but my point is to take a little time for whatever it is that you enjoy. I have found that this is so important simply because this is MY day! I want to enjoy it!
Plus, it feels awesome to do something that is fulfilling each and every morning. A lot of things may happen throughout the rest of the day that might be out of my control, but for 20-30 minutes I decide how to spend my day instead of my day dictating to me. Try it!
If you’re interested in trying any of my suggestions, let me know how it goes!
Are there any specific things you do to start your day in a good direction?