We’ve all set our alarms so we have just enough time to scramble through our morning routine and hasten out the door. However, to have a better start to your day, moving quickly is often not the answer. While these tips are just from my own personal experience, I hope that some of them will help you find contentment when it’s difficult to drag yourself out of bed.
Before this year, I would have laughed if someone suggested that I become a morning person. After all, the standard college student’s schedule seems to be staying up until 2 AM and sleeping until the late morning if the dreaded 8 AM class escaped their schedule. However, nothing has improved my day-to-day wellbeing more than waking up early.
Like most students, jumping straight into a class isn’t my ideal way to wake up. Setting my alarm for 7 AM has given me time to relax in the morning before moving to the less enjoyable tasks I need to accomplish. Waking up early has also helped me adjust my nighttime routine. By 10 PM, I try to finish my assignments (or at least save the remaining scraps for the morning), since my concentration and motivation wanes as the night progresses.
Now, I feel like I am producing better work since I’m not relying on my depleted, midnight brain. I also have more energy to participate in classes since I usually have been up for a couple hours and have had some downtime before I first walk to campus.
Though we may all be tired of hearing people tell us to drink more water, the advice really should be integrated into your daily routine. According to the CDC, drinking water helps keep your body at a normal temperature, protects your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues and can prevent dehydration (which can cause unclear thinking and mood changes).
If you know your water consumption could use some work, the CDC recommends that you serve water during meals and carry a water bottle with you throughout the day. Adding a wedge of lemon or lime to water can make the drink more exciting for those who often opt for a sugary drink.
Many college students know that they spend an excessive amount of time on social media. In fact, measurements such as the Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale (a six-item scale that measures an individual’s dependency on social media) have even been formed after social media use displayed an addictive quality.
In my own experience, starting my morning by scrolling through posts and tweets makes me more likely to use social media throughout the day. If feelings of stress and anxiety emerge after you spend time on Instagram, experiencing those emotions as soon as you wake up will probably not produce a great start to your day.
Spend a few hours off of social media before you check any updates that have been posted since you last logged on. Better yet, try to set a social media time limit, and try your best to only log on once or twice a day.
So, you’ve committed to not using social media in the morning. Now, you’ve poured yourself a glass of water, made yourself an iced coffee and are hoping to spend an hour or two relaxing before moving on to work/assignments. What do you do in the meantime?
The best part about waking up early is the guiltless period of peace you have before the rush of afternoon activities. While some like to sit outside and listen to music, absorbing some vitamin D, others choose to meditate or journal. Personally, my favorite morning activity is playing word games, particularly the New York Times Mini Crossword, Wordle and Quordle. However you choose to relax, find something enjoyable (however simple it may be) and try to make it part of your routine.
With the rise of Zoom classes and work-from-home jobs, it can be tempting to stay in your sweatpants for video calls that only show the top half of your body. However, part of having a motivated start to your day means getting ready as though you were planning to leave your home. Picking an outfit and keeping up with your skincare routine also adds a hint of normalcy to remote work, and can help maintain a distinction between your work life and personal life.
Getting ready for the day does not have to mean dressing uncomfortably. Try pairing tapered pants with a sweater in the winter. Opt for linen pants and a fitted t-shirt for warmer months.
If you have time, try include some form of exercise during the start to your day. While ambitious runners may take this as a sign to run 10 miles on their local train, keeping active could be as simple as doing some stretches for 30 minutes. Workout classes are an easy way to meet new people in your area if you have the means. Or, try searching for at-home workout class tutorials.
Some people may procrastinate or skip their workout if they wait until the end of the day (especially when they have a busy work schedule). In the morning, however, you may have fewer things distracting you from your workout goal. Plus, early activity can help you keep energized throughout the day.
Breakfast doesn’t have to be that boring granola bar half-smooshed by textbooks in your backpack. Try to have a filling breakfast in the morning that will keep you satisfied until lunchtime. During weeks packed with exams and final assignments, meal prepping can increase the chance you will select a balanced meal for breakfast.
Overnight oats are one of the easiest foods to prepare beforehand and can lower your blood sugar levels, provide antioxidants and reduce your chance of colon cancer according to WebMd. Try adding nut butter and chia seeds to your oats for healthy fats.
Some days you will wake up, make coffee, go for a run, meal prep and journal. Other mornings you may struggle to get out of bed.
Both of these are okay.
Even just incorporating a couple of these steps into your day-to-day practices is a step toward maintaining a healthy mindset. But when you fail to follow this idealized morning routine, don’t beat yourself up. The key to having a “good” start to your day is accepting your energy levels without judgment and trying your best to accomplish the day’s tasks.
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