Day 47: A beginner's guide to getting up in the morning #100daychallenge

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My old college suitemates would probably laugh their butts off if they saw I was giving anyone advice on getting up in the morning. But so much has changed on that front.

For as long as I can remember, I identified as a creative night owl and total crank in the morning. Waking up was so difficult. I could never find the motivation to get myself out of bed.

It really wasn't until after I graduated college that I slowly taught myself to embrace and value those quiet morning hours.

After undergrad, like many folks out there, I really didn't know where life was going to take me. I had taken some law courses in addition to my journalism/psych major and wanted to give legalese a try.

So right after I graduated, I started working at a law firm and studying for the LSAT. I don't know if I ever really wanted to go to law school or if I just wanted to prove that I could get in, but that year, I was so determined to succeed at anything I tried that my entire outlook on a day's 24 hours changed. I needed to make the most of those waking hours.

It was like a switch went off in my head. I'd convinced myself to wake up at 5 a.m., do some yoga, drink some green tea and pretend it's this magic elixir, take a shower and hit a coffee shop near the firm to get a few hours of LSAT prep done before work. All that hard work and I ended up declining law school for journalism!

But the routine was so good to me. It taught me how to stick to a goal and made me realize I have the self-control to navigate my own life for the better. I just had to want that for myself.

If you're struggling to get up in the morning, whether it's because you've just never been a morning person or you're lacking the will to go on with your day, here are some things that have helped me along the way that I hope resonate with you:

  • Set your alarm to a song that makes you smile. Mine: Sunrise by Norah Jones. It's impossible to wake up upset.
  • Keep your phone or alarm clock far from your bed. I'll keep mine on the floor or even outside of the bedroom so that it's out of arms reach.
  • Get into bed early even if you're not tired. This is still something I struggle with, but I've realized that getting comfortable in bed with a book or a podcast over Bluetooth (no screens!) helps my body relax. I tend to fall asleep much earlier, too.
  • Create some kind of self-care morning routine to look forward to. Find something you'll look forward to each morning. Some things I do: Have a 5-minute dance-in-my-undies party, write in my journal for 30 minutes, make some tea and read that New Yorker article I've been sitting on for months, go for a nice walk with my dog, get a quick workout in.
  • Get outdoors. I love being outside in the mornings. With a dog, that's obviously a big part of my routine, but I recommend just opening the door and drinking your morning cup of tea/joe while breathing in some fresh air. Just wakes you right up.
  • Give yourself a mini pep talk. If you find yourself still in bed staring at the ceiling and wondering whether you really need this job, give yourself a comforting but firm reality check/pep talk to get you motivated. Remind yourself what your big goals are and if you don't have any or need a refresher, make those goals now. 
  • Eat good. I'm so guilty of having a bowl of sugary cereal every now and then, but for the most part, I try to stick to lots and lots of eggs or oatmeal. Give yourself the energy boost you deserve.
  • Stay in bed if you need to. Look, I want to tackle each day with the grit of my best days, but it's okay to feel sluggish, brain-fogged and just wholly unmotivated. It may be a sign that you're a little stuck and need inspiration, or it could be an early symptom of stress, anxiety or depression. These are things you should reflect on more. Take a mental health day and don't feel guilty about it.
  • Do as many of the above as you can *especially* if you haven't slept much. Sleepless nights will come around. And the mornings that follow are just brutal. But the sooner you get it all over with, the earlier you'll be back in bed to play catch-up. Again, prioritize your health above all.
  • Get therapy. I am such an advocate for counseling. If you're having trouble sleeping and waking up and it's affecting several facets of your life or even if you just need someone to talk to, make an appointment. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any personal questions about therapy.

Those are all the tips I can think of off the top of my head. Hope they help!

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza