Why are mornings so tough? Do “morning people” genuinely exist or is it a ploy to irritate the rest of mankind? Why can’t I ever be as fresh as a damned daisy in the mornings when my ne’er-do-well colleague manages to do it?
Most of us have found ourselves asking these or similar questions, because – let’s face it – if you’re not naturally a morning person (yes, unfortunately we do exist) every morning is an unpleasant, rude experience. Only for the next morning to be clumsier and lazier.
Fortunately, research is ever loving and giving, and it turns out that there’s quite a lot which can be done to be more productive, and less grumpy in the mornings. Motivation in itself can be quite futile – but employed along with the scientific tips and tricks here, you can actually make mornings work for you.
1. Regulate Your Circadian Rhythm
Circadian rhythms are our body’s natural 24-hour rhythms which influence sleep and wakefulness. They in turn are influenced by our environment, mostly light exposure hence play a role in adjusting our body clock. Most importantly, it controls the release of melatonin, the hormone which helps our body sleep.
Time-maintenance is the key here. If you get up every morning at the same time (an up to 90 minute relieve on the weekend is allowed!) your internal body clock gets adjusted by itself. This is the reason why some people never need alarm clocks and for some it’s about hitting one snooze button after the other.
Exposure to light in the mornings also helps. Now that winters are approaching, go for a nice walk or do yoga in the light or whatever have you. 20 minutes is the minimum requirement.
2. Shut It Off
Your screens, that is. Now this may be a cliché and very hard to do, but doing it helps in getting a good night’s sleep, which would be the obvious answer for wanting better mornings. The blue light which is emitted from our smartphones delays the release of melatonin (this queen bee only comes out at dark).
Now if you make it a practice to stop looking at your screens an hour before you sleep (don’t panic, start small), the entire process happens faster and you end up sleeping more and better. Try an activity which doesn’t include Netflix, Facebook and reading of random Wiki articles – or if that just isn’t going to happen use a programme which reduces the blue light waves from your device (like No Blue or F.lux).
I’ve been putting my phone on airplane mode for a while now, and it works like a dream. If there are no incoming messages, your desire to keep checking your phone reduces naturally.
3. Develop a “Pre-Day” Routine
One of the main reasons why mornings are truly terrible is because they’re so crazed. There’s so much to do while simultaneously dealing with your will to just not live. If you carve out some time to just get yourself together before the rush starts, you’re actually going to be more productive not only in the morning but also throughout the day. For some it could be getting some exercise, or meditation, or even reading or listening to the news.
Following a routine habitually signals to your brain to get in the mode, so you get over your lazy faster. This also helps in getting some “me-time” which does wonders for your stress levels.
4. Decide What to Wear the Night Before
Take decisions, even the smaller ones like what to wear or what to eat for breakfast the night before. This results in much lesser stress because there are fewer things happening. It’s the flurry of activities which put our brain on overdrive and hence on panic mode. Reduce from your mornings, be it activities or mental pressure. Start visualising mornings as a downtime where you can just be and get things done calmly instead of a maddening rush hour; you’ll be more zen as well as effective.
5. Listen to the News
You can even solve a good crossword/Sudoku. The idea is to stimulate your brain in the morning in order to sharpen the focus on mental tasks throughout the day. Even listening to the radio on your commute works.
Handling mornings better not only helps on a day-to-day basis but helps you cope better with stress and be a much less temperamental person. Our bodies are naturally attuned to sleep with the moon and wake with the sun, and getting ourselves on that schedule is very beneficial indeed. (Sorry night owls!)
Hopefully, all of the above helps. Now, good morning and have a great day!
(Prachi Jain is a psychologist, trainer, optimist, reader and lover of Red Velvets.)
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