It can be really tough to convince yourself to put on your happy face and go willingly into your life when you’re not a morning person. Struggling through the time period between your alarm clock’s obnoxious insistence and that point in the morning where you finally feel like a normal human being again can feel like pulling teeth—and not only for you. Your family and friends have most likely already given you an earful about their opinion of the morning beast you can become. After all, it’s not their fault you can’t think straight until you’ve guzzled at least a half a pot of steaming joe!
Now, to be fair, there is a reasonable body of evidence supporting the theory that we might actually be genetically predisposed to being morning or evening people. The differences between the two groups, fondly nicknamed “larks” and “owls,” has been the topic of debate and research since the seventies, and several interesting studies have emerged as a result.
Nonetheless, even if you are genetically predisposed to functioning in maintenance mode only in the mornings, it doesn’t do you any good to hate mornings. Hating mornings just sets you and everyone around you up for a rough start to the day, every day. What’s the point in being so resistant to something that is out of your control? It’s a useless waste of energy.
So what’s a person to do? If you’re not a morning person, how can you keep from hating the inevitable start of each and every day? You get creative, that’s how. You change your relationship to mornings so that they are no longer a bane of your existence. Here’s how.
Identify Your Primary Morning Hatred
You probably already have it in your head. What’s the first thing that your mind becomes resistant to when you wake up each day? Is it having to leave the comfort of your bed or knowing you are about to fly out of your relaxed state into one of rush and hurry? Maybe you hate the sound of the garbage truck or your alarm clock or a family member’s demands for attention. Maybe you just don’t want to do whatever it is you are supposed to get up and do. That’s OK.
There are probably a number of things that set your teeth on edge when it comes to dealing with the start of the day. Begin changing your relationship to mornings by first calling to mind all of those things that make you cringe. Go ahead, make a quick list. This is the one opportunity you’ll get in this exercise to complain about everything that makes you emphatically say to yourself, “I hate mornings!”
How to Change Your Relationship to Mornings
Alright, you’ve got your list. Now, sort it into two categories: things you can control (such as whether or not you are feeling rushed in the morning) and things you can’t control (like the garbage truck, or the sun rising at all, for that matter.)
The solution to dealing with that which you can’t control is fairly simple. You must learn not to be resistant or reactive to these things. Don’t get mad at the sounds of life stirring around you. What use is it to allow yourself to get irritated by the birds enthusiastically greeting the day? Again, this is a pointless waste of energy. You are in control of how you respond to any given situation or stimulus. No one makes you feel anything. You are always choosing your reaction, negative or positive, in every given moment.
The more you consciously become aware and in control of this reactive part of yourself, the happier you will be in every part of the day. If this concept is new to you, or if you’d just like to work more on that part of yourself, I highly recommend taking a free Vipassana Course, which will transform your being (and your ability to be non-reactive) on a completely different level than you may have ever experienced before.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” ~ Albert Einstein
Dealing with the things that you can control requires a different kind of discipline: creativity and the willingness to change your behaviors and actions, so that you can then change your experience. Look at the list of things you hate about mornings, which are within your ability to fix or change. For example, if your problem is simply being too tired in the morning, you must find a way to go to bed earlier or rest deeper. Don’t come up with excuses about why you can’t do that. Just think creatively about how you might make that happen. For example, you could shut off the TV 30 minutes earlier to wind down, or take Valerian root or Hops tincture to help you sleep deeper.
Maybe the issue is having to fly out of bed and feeling too rushed and hurried? Obvious solution? Find a way to get up earlier or plan the night before so you don’t have to feel rushed. Again, don’t make excuses. If you truly can’t make yourself get up early enough to not rush out of bed, then you may as well give up your aggravation about it as well. Accept that this is the experience you are creating for yourself and you may as well choose to be content about it. It’s no one’s fault but your own, if you know what you need to do but are choosing to complain instead of taking action!
The bottom line here is to recognize that in order to stop hating mornings, you have to change your relationship to them. You have to figure out how to give yourself what you need to feel good as you enter into the day and take action to make that happen. Here are a few more good ways to clear the morning cobwebs and more easily handle the daily call of duties.
Expose Yourself to Sunlight ASAP
Sleep and wakefulness are determined by our circadian rhythms, which, in turn, are dictated largely by our exposure to light and darkness. In fact, there is a lot of information out there indicating that the amount of light and darkness we are exposed to on a daily basis is critical for our health and wellbeing. If you suffer from being locked in a mental fog in the morning, one of the best ways to clear the cobwebs is to simply get yourself outside. Drag along your coffee, do some easy yoga stretches or simply take ten intentional breaths of fresh morning air. You’ll feel more clear and alive immediately!
Remember the Five Ps for Morning Routines
It really is true that proper planning prevents poor performance. If you’re trying to eliminate that sense of morning rush, it makes all the difference in the world if you take the time to plan out simple things ahead of time (like what you’re going to wear or eat). Have the car packed with all the items you’ll need for the day. Have your coffee pot ready, and easy food at hand. (Don’t skip breakfast. It just perpetuates the cycle of tiredness you’re trying to change.) What else can you have already ready to go in the morning? The less you have to think about, the better.
Give Yourself the Time You Need in the Morning
Last, but not least, it’s critical to give yourself the time you need in the morning. Me, I need at least two hours before I am willing to function in the world at large. I am groggy, uncommunicative and mentally dysfunctional until I’ve had sufficient time to adjust to being awake. I know this about myself, so rather than fight it, I embrace it. Wherever possible, I structure my schedule to allow myself that time. If you’re in a position where you can’t shift your schedule to better accommodate your natural rhythms, then find a way to get up earlier (or do something different entirely). If you can’t bring yourself to get up earlier or restructure your daily obligations, then again refer to the advice above, about learning to maintain a Zen attitude about the circumstances that you have chosen for yourself.
You may not ever be able to truly transform yourself into a morning person if you are wired to be a night owl. That said, you can absolutely change your experience with mornings so that they are no longer a source of pain and discomfort. Do you have a favorite strategy for making mornings fun? Please share it with us in the comments below!