Four years ago, if you had told me I would be willingly getting up before 7 A.M., I would have laughed in your face.
I made it through college without ever taking a class before 10 A.M. I just knew for a fact that it wasn’t in my nature. I spent my teen years going to bed way too late only to be up and cranky for the school day at 6:30 (I took a lot of zero period courses). College felt like the out I always wanted. There was no way I would even think about getting out of bed before 9. And all too often, 9 A.M. turned to 9:15, to 9:30. Just roll out of bed, put that hoodie on, brush your teeth and put on some deodorant. The day will be over before you know it. I’d take my little evening break, eat and shower. Rush back to campus. Take the night classes. Stay up till 2, and do it all over again the next day.
But when you get home at 10, 11 P.M., there’s no room to squeeze in any self-care. The cycle exhausted me. It became all too easy to zone out at the end of the night and get lost on Instagram or Twitter. I procrastinated more. My creative projects fell to the wayside. I mean, I can’t blame all of this on my sleeping habits. College is rough. Between being a student, being a student leader, and trying to deal with all the other demons life threw at me, it was hard carving out time for myself. But now I can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if I had made the switch earlier.
So how did I do it? This part is rather embarrassing… I traveled. I spent a good portion of my summer in the midwest and on the east coast. When I got back, I just chose not to adjust. I know. You were probably looking for that vital piece of advice where I say, “Just slowly start going to bed a half-hour earlier.” But the truth is, I’ve been curious about becoming a morning person for years and just never had the willpower. I’ve learned I need my sleep. So now, even when I travel back in that direction, I’m in bed early enough to be up at seven at the latest. When you get up early, you get to take advantage of that morning energy, that uninterrupted reset that combats the go-go-go mentality that our society values.
There is something entirely satisfying about starting fresh every single day. Here’s a list of things I never thought were possible now that I can make use of my mornings.
1. Set the mood.
The first thing I typically do is turn my little space heater on in my back room; there’s no circulation. I light some candles and pick a morning playlist, typically something soothing. I have pretty lousy morning anxiety. The start of another day and another set of responsibilities can feel very overwhelming. The soft voices of Frank Ocean or Solange can calm me tremendously.
I know many people journal at night, and I do that too. But I have three journals now. My morning journaling sessions have a prompt. “Start Where You Are” by Meera Lee Patel has the most aesthetically pleasing pages that give me a chance to set some intentions for today. I’ve also invested in one of those Q&A a day journals to get me on my feet. It’s lazy and straightforward, but I feel a little better reflecting first thing in the morning.
3. Perfect that face routine.
I buzzed all my hair off about a month ago, so now more than ever, my face is out-and-about for display. It counts. I’ve gotten more and more into face products in an attempt to clean up some of the hormonal acne and dark spots I’ve become more self-conscious about. I’m obsessed with trying new products recommended by my favorite Twitter estheticians. I can’t control it all, but at least I can sit down for ten to fifteen minutes and focus on my skincare, right?
4. Work on a creative project.
Dedicate a little bit of time to write that blog post. Plan out that podcast. Work on that mural. Your art and your craft matter. There’s no noise. It’s just a blank canvas to get it out.
5. Eat breakfast… if you can.
Contrary to the featured photo, it’s challenging for me to eat until my morning anxiety has settled. I’m getting more into the practice. I take the time to grab that protein shake out the fridge, so even if I can’t eat, I’m sipping and getting some vitamins in. I might toast some bread or even snack on some leftovers from the night before. I didn’t even think about breakfast when I was in school, and I’d be starving within two hours when it rolled around twelve.
6. Drink some water.
This one might seem silly, but staying hydrated is so important. My stomach is so unsettled first thing in the morning. What I learned is that more often than not, it’s not hunger that is making me feel like I’m so starving that I can’t eat. I’m THIRSTY. I don’t really believe in having to get eight glasses a day because everyone’s body is different. But if I fill my water bottle up first thing in the morning and start sipping, I’m able to keep much better track of how much water I’m consuming throughout the day.
What I like best about becoming a morning person? That time belongs to no one else but me. My boss hasn’t emailed me just yet. I don’t worry about the chores that may have piled up. I’m actively combatting the laundry list of things to do by not allowing them to interrupt my inner peace just yet. I get to focus on my spirit alone. It feels like the most beautiful act of rebellion I’ve ever committed myself to. I’m curious, what are some things you would do if you set aside two hours in the morning to focus on you?
Originally published at https://www.oliviahardenportfolio.com on October 21, 2019.