I do not do well in the mornings. I wake up in a catatonic state and have to recover from my dreams almost every day. It's not an exaggeration, just ask my husband. It then takes me most of the day to wake up, clear my brain fog, and I don't typically feel a burst of energy until everyone else is ready for bed. This self-diagnosed chronic fatigue has haunted me for as long as I can remember.
I always attributed this to a lifetime of sleep deprivation, as well as the limiting belief that "I'm just not a morning person." However, I learned this year after listening to hours of health & wellness podcasts that this is not actually a normal state to be in. Turns out if you're healthy, it's normal to wake up with energy and no brain fog. Oops.
Seems obvious, but I seriously thought I was doomed to be this way forever. Now that I know this, in addition to focusing on eating better and exercising more, I've been actively trying to figure out what morning and night routines help me achieve optimal energy.
Here are three things that I'm trying to make a daily habit:
1.Leave my phone outside of my bedroom when I go to sleep.
There are a few reasons for doing this. First, the blue light from your phone suppresses melatonin, which is the hormone that encourages your body to sleep. This benefit is less tangible for me so while I know it's true, it's not enough to make me leave my phone outside.
Second, if I have my phone on my nightstand, I will lie in bed and scroll Instagram or watch YouTube videos for hours. It's really hard for me to climb out of a deep Ellen, The Voice, or America's Got Talent hole once I'm in.
Third, when I wake up in the morning, my first instinct is to snooze my alarm at least 5x. By having the alarm outside the bedroom I'm forced to get up to turn it off.
Fourth, when I finally stop snoozing, I check everything, even if it doesn't need checking. I scroll through Instagram, email, Slack messages, and then go back through it all again a few times. If I'm not careful I end up horizontal for way too long, just responding to emails and messages.
The best way for me to avoid all these problems is to just not have my phone around. I don't have enough self control otherwise.
2. Make a green smoothie when I wake up before I do anything else.
I've gotten in the habit of making a green smoothie for breakfast for a few months now, but I find if I do it before I do anything else (i.e. check my phone or open my laptop) I'm more set up for success for the day. I'm one of those people who doesn't like to eat anything until after I brush my teeth in the morning, so I'll make my smoothie first, pour it into my glass bottle, brush my teeth, then drink it while I put on my make up and get dressed.
My company is based in NYC and I work remotely from Boston, so I end up working from home a lot. If I start my work day without my smoothie, the day easily gets away from me with back-to-back calls. All of a sudden it's 3pm, I haven't eaten or drank anything all day, I'm HANGRY, and I make really bad food decisions that may sometimes involve Kraft singles.
By making the smoothie first thing in the morning, I also guarantee that I get a bunch of my nutrients in that day. If I don't have time to drink it in the morning and am running to the WeWork or to catch the Amtrak, I at least have it to throw in my bag for later. Not fueling your body properly with the right nutrition is a surefire way to mess with your health and energy levels.
I made the mistake of not making my daily smoothies consistently this week. It made me realize how important this is to my morning routine and starting my day off right.
3. Write down 10 things I'm grateful for and 10 bodacious dreams.
I stole this move from @msrachelhollis. She attributes a lot of her success in life to this daily practice. I try to do this at some point every day, but feel the best when I do it in the morning before I start my work day. The act of actually writing in my journal forces me to slow down and reflect, even if it's only for 5 minutes. It allows me to clear my head and just focus on the few words on the page. It also puts me in a more positive, hopeful mindset first thing in the morning. It's really hard to express gratitude and feel stressed or anxious at the same time.
I still really suck at doing all of these consistently. However, I know that when I practice these habits every day, I find myself to be generally less anxious and more alert and productive. When I don't, especially for too many days in a row, I feel out of control and like I'm in a constant reactive state, and I burn myself out.
There's obviously so many other ways to increase your energy every day. These are just a few habits I've added to my daily morning and night routines that have helped me.