Becoming a Morning Person, Part I

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You know how sometimes somebody says something and you like the sound of it and you end up not only believing it but also sticking by it for maybe the rest of your life? For me, one of those nuggets of timeless “wisdom” came from my high school tennis coach, who, at the beginning of one fall season, challenged us to not complain for 30 straight days, because that’s how long it takes to establish a new habit (the exact number, if it exists, is up for debate, according to the internet.)

With this idea loosely in the back of my mind, I embarked on #projectmorningperson at the beginning of September, buoyed once again by the back-to-school spirit and its promise of New Beginnings.

I’ve been trying to become a “morning person” forever, but the outcome was always the same: It would get to be bedtime, but I’d keep pushing it off because there’s still so much to read, watch, do; in the morning, I would sleep until the last permissible minute; come Sunday evening, I’d pledge that this, finally, would be week I start sleeping early and waking up early.

But this time around, I went in with some training wheels. The yoga place I’ve been going to—a literal stone’s throw from my apartment—offers early morning classes. So I started signing up for two to three of them a week, and following through so I don’t get charged a fine. This has been going on for a month and a half, and I finally feel like I’m making some progress.

Some things I’ve been noticing…

  • Morning light can be so divine—exhibit A and B are above.
  • Just 15 to 30 minutes of extra time in the morning can make a real difference, starting with that priceless feeling of not being rushed. Other things that can be squeezed in: Bible time, Duolingo, “leisurely email” (kind of enjoyable?)
  • Positive reinforcement works! Morning yoga = A Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cup first thing in the morning.
  • The single best thing about exercising in the morning for me so far is that it frees up the evenings for Trying New Things and the person who really convinced me it’s a good idea is Martha Stewart.
  • It’s true: Waking up earlier begins with sleeping earlier, but also not exactly. It really begins with starting the process of getting ready for bed earlier, which begins with not dilly-dallying between getting home and making dinner, between finishing dinner and washing dishes, between washing dishes and heading into the shower, and so on. I’m not saying there’s no room to simply chill out, but I often find myself lingering too long in these interstitial moments. The need to sleep early has made me more mindful of where idleness creeps in.
  • The day feels longer in a good way. I enjoy my job, but it feels nice to start the day with something totally unrelated. When I come back home after work on those days, I have trouble believing that yoga happened on the same day. It then feels like the day has been lived to its full, multi-dimensional potential.

I’m still not great at waking up early on non-yoga days, or sleeping early before yoga days, really. But this is a start.

Getting up early is not as completely-against-my-nature as it seemed before—or alternatively, the benefits are too great to not to keep chasing.

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