Who hasn’t had one of those mornings? (You know the ones.) Alarm sounds. You roll over. Look at the clock. Growl. Stay in bed. Alarm sounds again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. By the time your feet are actually touching the floor, you’re already in a terrible mood, mad at the world, and annoyed that the sun had to come up again.
I absolutely need my 8 hours of sleep (8.5 or 9 is actually better), but once the sun rises, I am ready to get up and go! I’ve grown to love mornings (I trained myself to become a morning person), but there are always days when the buzzer sounds and just NO. Thankfully, I know myself well enough to find ways to look forward to my mornings instead of pulling up the covers another inch each time the alarm rings.
I should preface this post by saying that there is an element of thought and planning to creating a enjoyable morning atmosphere. It’s not very likely that you’ll wake up when your alarm rings and want to put in the extra effort then. The night before is probably better. If you’re looking for ways to make your entire week go more smoothly, this post is for you. However, here are some ideas to make your mornings just a bit better if you can’t deal when the sun comes up:
1. Have a cup of warm to look forward to
Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, apple cider, whatever tastes right. Carve out five minutes (probably less) either before you go to bed or right when you wake up to fix yourself something warm to drink. If you have a programmable coffee maker (I have this one and I love it), scoop some grounds into a filter and fill up the water reservoir while you’re brushing your teeth at night, set the coffee to brew before you wake up, and awake gently to the smell of freshly brewed coffee (is there anything better?). If you have a Keurig (this one is so cheap!), fill the machine with water and pop in a cartridge the night before. Press “Brew” in the morning and enjoy. If you just need to heat up water (for tea, hot chocolate, or apple cider, for example), fill up your tea kettle with water and place it on your stove. When you wake up, turn on the stove, wash your face and brush your teeth while the water boils, and then drink up. Of course, you can always make your drink of choice in the morning, and that’ll work just as well.
2. Set up an “If This Then That” account
If you don’t already, you should totally set up a free IFTT account. First of all, it’s awesome. Secondly, it’s useful. Basically, IFTT is a website that allows you to set up events based on triggers. For example, every day at 8am, I get a text telling me the weather for the day. The trigger is 8am and the event is a text with the weather. Does that make sense? I have another trigger at 8:30am that sends me an encouraging text–“God gave you today as a gift! Get up and shine your light!” These trigger/event sequences are called “recipes.” You can do everything from backing up your contacts to a Google spreadsheet to making your Twitter profile picture change whenever you Facebook one does to saving your iPhone photos to Dropbox. Check out the most popular IFTT recipes here! (Oh, and by the way, IFTT has no idea who I am…they’re not paying me to endorse them!) The point of my rambling is to say this: sending yourself the weather, sports scores, or an encouraging quote each morning may be more smile-inducing than you think!
3. Create a rhythm and find comfort in it
The truth of it all is that mornings are rough. Snuggled in bed, warm and comfy, an alarm buzzes obnoxiously and you’re supposed to get out of your warm cocoon, put on uncomfortable clothes, and be happy about it?! Madness. This is precisely why it’s important to find a rhythm in your morning routine…that is, set a rough schedule and stick to it as best you can. I’m not talking 7:01am-7:03am “use the bathroom and brush teeth” kind of precision. More of an order of events…a sequence that you can stick to regardless of what time you arise. My morning rhythm is outlined in this post (actually my entire daily rhythm), if you need some inspiration.
4. Do a mindless activity
Our minds need space just as much as our bodies do. It’s important to take a couple of minutes to do something mindless, like throwing a load of laundry in the washing machine, watering the plants, feeding the dog, making the bed, or emptying the dishwasher (or all five!). I really don’t like loading and unloading the dishwasher at night (I’m tired and it’s a pesky chore), but I find that I’m happy to do the dishes in the morning. I truly think there’s something to be said for allowing our minds some white space before we fill them all day.
5. Move your body
I am not an early-morning exerciser (although I’m challenging myself to try it out, a post on that is coming!), but there is absolutely something to be said for waking up and getting your blood flowing. If you know that morning work outs are your key to a joyful mindset, fold your work out gear on your dresser before you catch your zzz’s so there’s no thought that goes into getting dressed and hitting the neighborhood for a run or the gym for a class.
6. Breathe & center yourself
This will, of course, look differently for different people. I spend about 15 minutes each morning doing a devotional (I use this book, it’s amazing), journaling, and praying to my God for a day that honors Him. I come away from my quiet time relaxed, focused, and ready to take on the day’s challenges. If you find yourself anxious in the morning, I encourage you to try this and see if you don’t feel better. Other ways to ready your spirit for the day ahead are yoga, light stretching, singing, writing, or reading.
7. Encourage at least one other person before you leave the house
Almost every day before I leave my home and lock the door, I send a text message of encouragement to one of my friends. Usually, it’s someone who’s been on my mind or a person that the Lord put on my heart during prayer. Spreading joy brings us joy, and a quick message is an easy and gratifying way to cultivate a positive attitude. If you can’t get out of bed with a smile for your own sake, do it for someone you love! (Bonus points for writing a loved one an email and a gold star for writing a loved one a handwritten letter!)
8. Turn on uplifting/happy/pump-up/relaxing music
Music can be a very personal preference, so listen to whatever works for you. I find myself feeling anxious in the morning (not sure why), which is why I do a daily quiet time before work…I need those moments to relax and center my heart. Because of this, I opt for classical or Christian music in the early hours. I know some people who love to wake up to loud hip-hop and others who prefer country or pop. It only takes ten seconds to turn on your radio, plug in your iPod, or switch your TV to a music station…do it and see how you feel!
9. Take a long, hot shower or plan not to
Some people are morning shower lovers and some are not. I’m a strange hybrid. Some mornings, I can’t wait to jump in the hot steam and drink in the smell of my shampoo. Other days, the last thing I want to do is get soaking wet and have to blow dry my hair. Luckily for me, I can usually tell the night before whether or not the following morning is going to be a shower morning or not. Based on my feelings, I either grab a quick shower before I hit the hay or put it off until the sun rises. If you know that showers are invigorating and awakening for you, take one when you wake up. If they’re more relaxing and sleep-inducing, save them for the evenings! Either way, make a plan for gettin’ clean!
10. Set aside time to laugh
“Laughter is the best medicine.” Just about as cliche as “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” or “I hope you dance…” (Try not to read that without singing it!) ANYWAY, it’s trite, but it’s true. We all need to laugh. And because mornings can be such a struggle for some of us, we should make it a point to giggle before our day really begins. Watch a recorded episode of Honey Boo Boo or New Girl. Look up “Humor” pins on Pinterest (or check out my “makes me smile or laugh” board, which is admittedly hysterical). Read a comical blog. Be intentional–find something funny and laugh, unashamed. What better way to start the day?
11. Invest in a fluffy, wonderful robe
Even if you’re not going to shower in the morning (see number 9), you need a giant, snugly, comfy, warm robe. NEED ONE. I keep one within arms reach of my bedside, so when I wake up, I can basically take my down comforter with me by wearing it around my body in the form of a robe. Getting out of bed gets a lot easier when you’re still warm, comfortable, and happy. There’s something to be said for all the women in movies who wake up and put on a robe…it’s not just movie magic! They’re actually happier! I think this robe looks absolutely heavenly (and it has great reviews!).
12. Exude gratitude
Be thankful that you have another day to live. That you’re not fighting overseas away from your family. That your family member isn’t sick. That you have a functional body and mind. (Some of those things may actually apply to your life, but truly I believe there are always an abundance of blessings to be thankful for!). You’ve been given the gift of another day with your heart beating and blood pulsing. Relish in that…you’re alive! Gratitude can be difficult, and it can even feel awkward. But it can change your morning (and frankly, your life). Start by finding joy and thanks in the little things all morning as you wake up–for a good night’s sleep, for a warm bed, for a comfy robe (wink number 11 wink), for a hot cup of tea, for the way the light dances across the carpet, for the silly message your friend sent you, for a car to drive to work in, for your favorite song on the radio…I guarantee your morning will be better. Guarantee it. (If you struggle to count your blessings and exude gratitude–which, by the way, I used to, I highly recommend this book.)
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