Struggling to find the motivation first thing? Taking a long while to get going in the morning? Casting covetous glances at that early bird with the worm in its mouth? Well, you’ve come to the right place…
For many, working from home continues to be the new normal. For others, the idea of being encouraged to return to work without proper provisions and protection in place has sapped any morning motivation we’ve nurtured during this recent rough ride.
Whatever your situation, it’s natural to feel a lack of motivation with the constant changes in daily structure and the uncertainty that’s lead to. It can also send us into a morning lull, and we may find ourselves sleeping in more than we used to. However, during these moments of uncertainty, maintaining a routine is key.
Alister Gray, founder of Mindful Talent, explains that ‘routines bring a level of certainty and security amidst a time when uncertainty can often feel overwhelming. Daily routines help us to stay focused, maintain productivity and feel fulfilled by activating the reward system in our brains when we complete tasks.’
With that in mind, we’ve teamed up with Alister to bring you these 8 expert-approved ways to become a morning person.
FUEL YOUR BRAIN TO FOCUS
You are what you eat for breakfast, as the experts should say. In that spirit, we’re an egg, hatching out of our duvet shell each morning in a sprightly and optimistic fashion.
Anyway, nutritionist Jenna Hope recommends eggs for breakfast to help cultivate an early sense of purpose, as the yolks contain choline, which is pivotal for supporting memory, mood, and cognition. As well as eggs, eating oily fish and nuts early doors is great.
‘Omega-3 in oily fish is associated with improved concentration and better cognitive performance! Nuts (specifically walnuts) and seeds are also a source of ALA omega-3 which is converted into EPA and DHA, the active forms of omega-3′, Jenna explains. ‘Vitamin D from the sun as well as foods such as salmon, mushrooms and eggs can boost brain-power.’
‘Fish? For breakfast?’ you might retort. But we’re not arguing with smoked salmon with scrambled eggs when we wake up. If you can’t quite stomach that every day, daily Omega 3 supplements do the job, too.
PROTECT YOUR SLEEP
A good night’s sleep can make you feel like a new person. And that’s not surprising when you consider just how many health benefits sleeping well can have.
‘Sleep supports the proteins and cells of your immune system to detect and destroy bugs and germs. Sleep also helps to reduce stress, support mental wellbeing and improve heart health,’ says Euan MacLennan, Herbal Director at Pukka Herbs and Medical Herbalist at an NHS practice in London.
‘Research shows that side-effects from herbal medicines for sleep are rarely experienced, particularly compared to over-the-counter medicines. Some of my favourite natural remedies to support sleep include ashwagandha, valerian and oats – which naturally contain Tryptophan, helping to regulate our bodies circadian rhythms,’ Euan adds.
Best, then, to really protect and value those all important Zzzeds. Check out our tips on sleep resolutions we should all be making in 2020 to ensure you’re doing things right.
Yoga and meditation teacher, Kirsty Gallagher, recommends meditating for 5 to 10 minutes upon waking, and we certainly see the appeal; it focuses the mind and sets your intentions for the day.
‘Sit quietly as soon as you get up and focus on your breath; deep breath in and deep breath out, allowing yourself to become calm and present. As thoughts come into your mind don’t get caught up in them or dwell on them, simply acknowledge them and let them go, returning your mind back to your breath.
‘Feel the calm, the peace, the presence. This one pause will make the biggest shift to your day and all that follows.’
LISTEN TO INSPIRING PEOPLE
Kirsty also recommends downloading podcasts or audio books from some of the world’s most inspirational people.
‘Allowing their words to infuse and shape your day can be really beneficial, particularly if you begin your mornings listening to their positive mantras. From Robin Sharma to Anthony Robbins, Eckhart Tolle to the Dalai Lama, to Louise L Hay or Oprah Winfrey,’ she says. ‘There are lots of amazing and accessible guides.’
BRING BEDTIME FORWARD
For Lucy Gornall, Personal Trainer at DigMe Fitness, the big secret to being a morning person, is simply getting to bed earlier: ‘I go to sleep between half 9 and 10 and find that getting up at 5 is barely an issued as I will have had at least 7 hours sleep,’ she says.
A nighttime routine to help relax your body and bring a sense of calm is essential. Why not try a green tea, or a soothing and calming blend which contains valerian? We’ve compiled our steps to the perfect bedtime routine over here; how does it compare to yours?
REDUCE THE NEGATIVITY
It’s hard when we’re bombarded with negative news – and right now, that’s truer than ever – but Alister says we should focus on all the things that are great in life.
‘We have over 70,000 thoughts per day; it’s suggested up to 80% of these thoughts are negative in their nature as our brain constantly scans and searches for threats in a bid to keep us safe.’ An evolutionary device, then, but one we shouldn’t always give top billing.
Instead, try to give yourself a set amount of time to read the news. When time’s up, move on and focus on something else- ideally something happier!
PRACTICE GRATITUDE EACH MORNING
Time and time it’s been shown that practicing gratitude is a key contributor to happiness. Indeed, by keeping a daily morning diary of appreciation, the brain becomes rewired to look for reasons to be grateful. In the process, you may well find yourself more grounded, humble, thankful and kind towards the world around you.
It’s wise to approach this act with empathy, rather than simply going through the motions; if you’ve had a non eventful day, don’t feel compelled to complete your journal. Instead, focus on depth, not breadth, and on people you appreciate, rather than things. In doing so, you’ll notice a gradual, growing warmth towards the world and its often lovely inhabitants.
SET A WAKE-UP INTENTION BEFORE BED
Nope, this isn’t some new age euphemism for setting an alarm. Rather setting a wake-up intention is a gradual process of waking up earlier via conditioning yourself to do so in manageable chunks.
‘Take a moment to make a pact with yourself that you will wake up earlier tomorrow than you did today, and then in small increments, each day, work towards the desired time,’ says Alister.
‘If you are waking at 8am and you wish to wake up at 6am, I’d suggest that you break it down; aim for 7.45am and reduce it by 5/10/15 minutes each day.’