There is a difference between waking up and getting up — or “being” up. After I tricked myself into becoming a morning person last summer, my eyelids were conditioned to fling open Monday through Sunday at 6:59 a.m., exactly one minute before my standard weekday alarm goes off.
But once the sky joined a frat called fall and started blacking out earlier and earlier, all the progress I made just a few months prior began to drop by the bedside. Each morning at 7:00 a.m., “Marimba” would sound and my heart would start pounding — undecided between awake and anxious. My brain would start telling everyone to calm down, that this was just a nightmare, then my own covers would make matters worse: “Dude, this isn’t a nightmare,” it would remind us. “This is morning. This is what I was trying to warn you about when you were kicking me off in August. This shit sucks.”
I had to fix it.
Stop Telling Yourself, “This Shit Sucks.”
It is the number one thing that I had to let go if I wanted to get my mornings back, because that internal struggle you just read is a paradox: its intentions are to keep you cozy in bed, to protect you against the outside world of stress and rain and cold. But your sleep from that first alarm until your final snooze button isn’t worth it if you’re dreading the inevitable. So to turn this around, repeat after me: It’s going to be better than okay — it’s going to be great! I’m up!
Annoying, cheerful positivity does wonders. (So does a great morning soundtrack.) You’ll see.
If You’re Going to Stay in Bed, Sleep.
Per the above, there’s no point in pressing snooze if you’re hitting it every 2 minutes and getting a crap sleep, nor is there any point in ruining a perfectly good bed session by checking your email. Either decide the night before that you’re sleeping in — and then do it, or commit not just to the waking up, but the getting up.
I Know: Ew. How?
The last time I did this, I did it incrementally. This time called for extremes. I had to literally lure my ass out of bed with treats. I made a deal with myself: no gym (and no guilt about not going to the gym) for exactly one week on one condition: I would have to get OUT of bed. Following that, activities could include anything “treat-worthy,” whether that meant walking to get a stupidly decadent latte and doughnut, reading, watching a TV show or taking a proper shower — long and lazy and inappropriately hot.
This step was and is really important. It took the terrors out of waking up. You have to remind yourself that nothing bad happens as a result of starting your day, but if you start your day with dread then you’re setting yourself up for crap. If you wake up and think, “Doughnuts!” you’re far more likely to brighten your bushy tail. Once you acclimate, you’ll start to feel ready to actually do things.
Last thing: go to bed earlier. So obvious, but so often overlooked.
Phase 2: Doing Things
You may love your job more than you do James Corden but you still need something beyond work to get your feet on the ground. Setting an hour goal-timer gave my mornings focus and gave me a reason to get out of bed once I didn’t have frosting dangling from a string. Important: this time should not include brushing the fuzz off your teeth, popping in contacts or getting dressed. Also important: leave work out of it!
For me, I’m heading back to the gym. For you, it might be meditation followed by breakfast making and lunch packing. Maybe you’d just like to read the paper in peace.
The number one thing I learned and have to remind myself over and over (and over) again is that the air is seriously always so much better when you step outside, take a deep breath, and go, “YO MOTHAFUCKA, I GOT THIS.”
Because you do.