Happy Monday! I have to be honest – I’m not feeling my peppiest and most energized today despite having a pretty restful and relaxing weekend. Why the sudden depleted energy levels? Because, my friends, this lifelong night owl is finally making the full transition to becoming an early bird. I’ve been chipping away over the past few weeks, waking up earlier and earlier each day, but today was my first 6AM wake up call (which is probably nothing for most people but for me, it’s nuts!) and I’m sticking to 6 all this week, hopefully managing 5:45 going forward. So why the switch and how am I doing it? More at the bottom of this post!
So over the years, while I certainly never became a morning person as far as waking up super early, I have learned how to really enjoy my mornings (see my morning routine here). What I quickly realized about myself as I went about creating a more conscious approach to the start of my days is that I need more time than the average person to get going. Part of that is that with my recovery program (which is going amazingly by the way, more on that soon!) I have to commit about an hour of stretching and mobility work right off the bat to get myself all warmed up and the back loosened, and this doesn’t include the 1-2 hours I usually work out most days too. So just getting moving and mobile was already setting my days back quite a bit, but it’s time I refuse to shave off because it’s been so critical to my recovery.
The other thing I realized I really love/need in the morning is a little quiet pocket of time all to myself. To most people who know me, that might be a bit of a surprise – I’m pretty social and tend to surround myself pretty constantly with family and friends. But like my mum (who always kind of retreated a little bit first thing in the morning), I’ve really realized I like my quiet rituals first thing. Meditation, a little journaling, etc. Nothing crazy, but it all takes time.
So other than the fact that I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who gets the day kicked off properly, I also have realized that logistically, for me to function well in today’s 9-to-5 world, if I want to get these important rituals, this mobility work and also preferably my workouts out of the way before I tackle work, meetings and seeing my loved ones for the rest of the day, well…I would have to wake up a good 2 hours earlier than I currently was. I was managing 7:45AM which for me is pretty good, but by the time I had wrapped up everything, I felt like I was running against the clock trying to catch up on my day. Obviously, most people don’t need this big space of time in the morning, but again, with the back, with the high-maintenance hippie woo-wooness right off the bat…well, quite frankly, I need 2 hours before I can really do anything “productive,” at least as far as work goes.
So now it’s a question of making the switch to an early wake up call for someone who’s been super impressed with herself for waking up at 7:30 some days. I’ve always had this fantasy of one day becoming an early bird so had already immersed myself in quite a bit of research but really tried to pay attention to my rhythms and habits to figure out cues, tricks and strategies to actually get my butt out in the morning. So without further ado, they are…
- Have a reason to get up. This is going to sound crazy, but if I have an appointment, flight, etc and if I make sure I repeat the time I need to get up to myself before I slip into sleep, I’ll wake up at that time on the dot. From what my friends have told me, I feel like this is kind of an innate, internal alarm clock we all have. So rather than relying on just my alarm clock to get my ass out of bed, I ensure I have a pressing reason that will get me moving right off the bat. Scheduling workouts or something health-related is really a good one for me – whether I’ve got an early Dailey class, personal training, chiro or yoga set up, I try as much as possible to schedule and reserve my spot well ahead of time so that I’m motivated to get out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off.
- But to be safe, I set three alarm clocks, all within 15 minutes of one another. One’s 15 minutes before when I actually want to get up, one’s on the goal time and one’s 15 afterwards. Best case scenario, I’m out of bed earlier, but worst case I’m only running 15 behind.
- Make like it’s your first day of school and have everything laid out the night before! Not only does this put my mind to ease before I go to sleep knowing I’m all ready for the next day, but it limits the amount of choices you have to make first thing in the morning.
- And speaking of which, make breakfast ahead of time so that you’re again limiting what you have to prep in the AM if your wakeup time is earlier than it ordinarily is. My overnight oats are my go-to every day – will be sharing my current favourite recipe soon!
- Have a really solid nighttime routine that gives you the sound sleep you want. Expect that you’ll be a little bit tired for the first week or so (trust me, I’m writing this through a cloud of fatigue!) but at least the sleep you are getting will be sound. Also work at getting in bed a bit earlier and turning off any electronics well in advance.
- Last but not least, especially while you’re in the process of making your wakeup call earlier, make sure you have your days filled with movement. Even if you’re in a more traditional work setting, make sure you get up for some walks, do some light stretching, even double up on workouts (as long as they’re not wearing down your body). If I sit still for too long on a good day, I get exhausted, but especially when I’m waking up earlier, I just can’t let my body sit or I will fall asleep. Take today for example: personal training in the morning, some light stretching when I started passing out on my laptop and some hot yoga in a little bit followed by a dip in the ocean. Hoping this keeps me powered up throughout the day but also helps in putting me straight to sleep tonight!
All right early birds (or former night owls) – now I want to hear your advice! Tell me in the comments what I should be focusing on as I make the switch, and while you’re at it, send some energizing thoughts my way this week!
Photos by Alicia Fashionista