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How I Became a Morning Person

Since I was a kid, I’ve always gotten up early (in my case, for horse shows), but I’ve maintained by early-bird reputation and habits with these six simple steps. Here’s how to become a morning person:

#1: Go to sleep and wake up at the same time.

Maybe at first, this doesn’t look like a “morning person” schedule. The trick is to practice your self-care rituals every day of the week. Even weekends. Even holidays. Even when you don’t have any place to be. Even if you have to drink coffee to do it (as long as coffee is okay for you).

The point is: get consistent. Tell your body what it can expect from you. Keep your word. Ultimately, your body will learn to trust you.

You know that self-care phrase, “Treat yourself as you would a small child”? It’s supposed to be about gentleness, but for me, it’s about routine. It feels good to know what is predictable, because then it becomes safe.

Read more: Real Self-Care: Screen Free Time

#2: No screens after 9pm.

If you’re just starting out, no screens after 7pm.

The glow of the screens tricks your brain into thinking that it’s daylight – a dangerous thing if you’re trying to power down. To start training yourself to fall asleep earlier – and therefore be able to wake up and be alert earlier – ditch the screens after a set hour.

Your screen devices (TV, iPhone, laptop) also create a psychological need for more: one more game of Candy Crush, one more refresh on GMail, one more episode. There’s always one more unit of…something… that we crave. By setting a time limit, we can create a concrete boundary.

Once we set the device to airplane mode (or turn it off) – and we do it consistently – it sends a message to our brains that it’s time for it to start turning in the direction of rest. That it can drop the hyper-vigilance, the seeking of one more heart, one more like, one more explosion.

I also know that I’m unreachable after a certain hour – and others know it, too. I’m a morning person, and I’m off-duty late at night. Which is comforting.

#3: Knowing what triggers me, and gently detoxing from it.

I know that super-violent movies aren’t for me. I know that particular forms of violence on screen really aren’t for me. I know that certain movies I won’t want to see in theaters at night, I’ll want to watch them at home, with the lights on, during the day.

I’m also aware that certain social media patterns trigger disrupted sleep. So does having too many drinks, and any number of other patterns. This has been pure trial and error – it look a while to figure out.

Once I did, I became not just a morning person, but a happier one.

I’m not saying that these will be your triggers, but find what disrupts your sleep and gently ease yourself off of it. Sugar? Caffeine? Alcohol? Gluten? Violent movies? Political news? None of these are inherently bad, but they may be affecting you more than you thought.

Read more: Social media cleanse

#4: Consuming gentle media

This isn’t all about taking away your fun. In fact, I’m much happier with what I’ve replaced my old ways with.

Instead of violent movies, I now enjoy:

  • Board games
  • Hanging out with my cats
  • Coloring books
  • Comedies (Parks & Recreation; Community; and The Good Place!)
  • Actual conversation with other humans
  • Baking
  • Social media that’s generally positive (at least in my feeds) like Pinterest or Instagram.
  • Podcasts
  • Fixing up my altar or pulling tarot cards

#5: Eating earlier

This one is pretty simple:

I don’t eat after 8pm. It’s not a weird diet thing; I actually can’t fall asleep as easily if I eat a big meal late at night.

If I’m super-busy and don’t get around to dinner until after that time, I try to eat light and ensure that I have something really hearty for breakfast the following morning. I also choose foods that are gentle, according to my system’s needs and likes, so that I’m not trying to digest too hard while I’m asleep.

Fruit, nuts, yogurt, some pieces of cold baked tofu (something I always have on hand), or similar will generally do the trick. And I’ll usually drink some tea or a warm beverage with it. This way, by the time I’m ready to fall asleep, my body is done digesting dinner and is ready to truly rest.

(Note: I make a conscientious effort to eat a full dinner each evening, and would never, ever deprive myself. Food is a touchy subject. You do you.)

Read more: Real Self-Care: Intuitive Movement

#6: Get active, first thing.

After point #1, this might actually be my most effective trick. There’s not a whole lot of moping around my house in the morning. We get up, we have coffee, we eat breakfast, we get going. Even on the weekends, it’s mapping out what chores need to happen, what commitments we have, and what kind of activities we’re hoping to do.

Even though I work from home, I almost never work in my pajamas. I’m in “street clothes,” because they help me to stay alert and awake. I’m not lazing about, I’m making my morning productive, engaging, and satisfying.

Being a morning person, for me, is a joyful way of living that lets me make the most of my days. I hope that these tips serve you well.

Find my full resource guide here!

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