Waking up is hard to do, and that’s why I’ve been contemplating my self-care mornings lately. I can’t say that I’ve found the secret to life, but I might know a thing or two about how to get up on the right side of the bed.

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Self-Care Mornings

Original photo by freestocks.org  

I know one thing, and it’s that my day goes more smoothly if my mornings aren’t the absolute worst. But how can waking up and getting out of your nice, warm bed and facing a world that feels like it’s falling apart not be terrible?

Great question.

And to be fair, I don’t think I can directly answer that. Sure, I’m still a morning person. But that’s only because morning is the only time in my day that’s 100% for me. The world I wake up to often sucks, though. And I know that it’s really easy to let this derail my entire day. So, with that in mind, I developed my self-care mornings to keep me in a better headspace throughout the day.

I can’t promise that these tips will make you want to jump out of bed the minute your alarm clock goes off. I can’t promise that these will prevent bad things from happening during the day. But I can say that these have helped me have the sort of mornings where I’m not immediately enraged upon waking up.

Self-Care Mornings

001: Wake up gently.

I don’t know who decided that alarms should make terrible, jarring noises, but I don’t appreciate it, and I would like the record to show that I’m absolutely against it. In the past, I’ve used this alarm clock, which is great at slowly waking you up with light. But if you’re particularly tired that day and sleep through the light wake up, you get the terrible beep/buzz sound.

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So now, instead, I use my phone alarm with a really light twinkling sort of sound, and I put it in the kitchen. Then, when it goes off, I wake up gently, and have to get out of bed to turn it off. This isn’t ideal, just because when I turn my phone alarm off, I immediately see how many emails I have and when I’m tired and not fully awake, it’s hard to stop myself from checking. But it’s definitely working for now.

002: Don’t start the day with someone else’s agenda.

The reason I don’t want to check email first thing during the day is because I want to start my day with the things I want to do. I hate the idea of someone dictating how I should live my life, which is exactly what happens when you’re a slave to email early in the morning, or respond to social media notifications first thing. If I didn’t have students, I probably wouldn’t put my work email on my phone, and I’m always contemplating taking it off. But I leave it on because there are times I need it when I’m away from my computer.

So for now, I have it, which means I have to be mindful and aware of what I’m doing. I want to start my day by doing what I want to do, and I can’t do that if I’m building a to do list with someone else’s tasks. I do try to leave a small to do list right by my phone so I immediately see what I want to do that morning. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

003: Rehydrate.

I wake up incredibly thirsty every single day. And while I do love coffee in the mornings, I absolutely cannot have it until I’ve had a bunch of water. I usually consume one 32-ounce Nalgene bottle of water before I have my first cup of coffee. This may seem like a lot, but it’s a good amount to wake me up and get me moving. Also, I know that I won’t drink enough water unless I start drinking it early in the day. So it’s really important for me to drink a lot of water early on so I don’t wind up super dehydrated and with a migraine later on.

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If you’re new to chugging water like you’re drying out (the way I do), then just start with a manageable amount. Eventually, though, it’s like you start craving more and more and you’ll be consuming water like a damn fish in no time. And if I’m being completely honest, hydration wakes me up way more than coffee ever does. Though, I’m going to keep drinking my coffee. I love the ritual of it, and coffee is pretty dang tasty.

004: Move.

I’m officially “laying down for too long makes my back hurt” years old, so when I wake up, I’m feeling really stiff and achey. The only way to combat this is to do some kind of exercise. It wakes up my body nicely, and it gets the blood flowing so the stiffness isn’t such a problem. I like activities that aren’t too crazy. Walking is great, but lately I’ve been craving something a little more hardcore.

I’ve been doing a Beachbody on Demand workout first thing in the morning, and it’s quite nice for building up a sweat. Either way, when I’m done I feel really good and like I’ve cleared my head and fixed my back. Also, Beachbody is great because you can pick something different each day.

005: Conquer one thing on your to do list.

I love marking things off my to do list. It’s an addiction. And while I know that my to do list doesn’t define me, and not finishing stuff is okay, I like to get stuff done. I hate when my to do list is still glaring at me after 12 PM. So I like to take my quiet morning time where I’m not answering emails to conquer at least one thing on my to do list so I can build some momentum.

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I know that the general wisdom is to conquer the biggest thing on your to do list first, but I think that only works when your to do list aligns with your day job to do list. Usually, my to do list is all blog/YouTube/novel/freelance stuff. So, I pick a thing I can finish before I head off to work. That might be a writing sprint or making a quick outline. If I woke up before 5 AM, I might be able to write a whole blog post or film a video, but I’m incapable of getting to bed at a time that would accommodate a pre-5 AM wake up time.

How Do You Incorporate Self-Care in Your Mornings?

Do you check your phone first thing? What kind of alarm do you use? What’s your ideal morning routine? Any advice for getting more done before the work day starts?

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