Tuesday, 11 July 2017

How to get up in the morning and not hate life

I am not a morning person. I don't think I will ever be. But I've recently changed my story about what getting up is or should mean and I think it's made it easier.

I used to think that most people (or morning people, if you like) just got up easily and sprung out of bed feeling refreshed and not wanting to sleep any more, and I spent a long time trying and waiting for that to happen to me. It never did, so I concluded that perhaps I was just shit at getting up or I wasn't a morning person or whatever that meant, and that was okay, but it did mean that for a long time my story about getting up was "Nobody has as hard a time as me and/or enjoys falling back to sleep as much as me, therefore I have it harder than everyone else and I should get a free pass."

It wasn't really a conscious thing, I don't think I was genuinely assuming that I was unique and special in hating mornings or loving to snooze, but by believing that it was particularly hard for me allowed me to keep making excuses and keep letting it be hard while also being annoyed at myself for finding such a simple and common task hard. I don't remember where I first came across the idea that getting up just actually is an awful sensation for most people, it could have been reddit, or it could have been College Info Geek, but anyway, I read somewhere that snoozing is counterproductive specifically because waking up from sleep is the hard part. Now, I'd read lots of times, as I'm sure you have, that snoozing is bad, but it never really seemed to make sense before until I read this. When you wake up from sleep you've done the hard part. Why would you then repeat that by snoozing and forcing yourself to go through that again? I do know why - it's because falling back to sleep is just so absolutely delicious and doesn't feel the same when you're meant to be doing it e.g. at night. So I now have the following morning routine:

Alarm goes off exactly 18 minutes before I need to be up. It starts very quietly, almost imperceptibly, and slowly gets louder. There's nothing alarming about it, no vibration, no sudden sound.

I'm allowed ONE free pass, one glorious moment where I can hit the default snooze (10 minutes) and slide back into that creamy, soft, warm sleep. I stand by that. It works for me. Snoozing isn't the enemy as long as you're in control.

Next alarm, snooze, more conscious, 5 minutes. This is where the hard part starts but I'm allowed a little fail on this one - I try to keep my eyes open and look at my phone. Sometimes something interesting enough will be happening in the world to engage me, but mostly sleep wins.

Lastly my final alarm goes off and - this is crucial - I cannot turn this one off without getting out of bed and carrying my phone to the bathroom (it's barcode deactivated - lots of free apps do this), and from there I do all that morning stuff - toilet and teeth and face and hands. I hate this. I cannot describe to you how horrible and arduous it seems. But by the time I've finished brushing my teeth something miraculous has happened, it turns out that I've done the hardest part and I don't have to do it again until the next day - as long as I don't let myself go back to bed. But it's done - almost without thinking, without really being awake enough to be aware. And so I can also pat myself on the back for getting through the hard part because I genuinely know that it is hard and that's not some kind of moral failing of mine. I'm managing self-reward now - are you reading this, me from 5, 10 years ago?  There was a time when I really felt that I was incapable of that, but now I realise that I just wasn't admitting to myself that it's okay to find things hard and that hard things really are worth rewarding.

I find these days that snoozing too many times on days I don't need to get up early is less fulfilling or enjoyable than it used to be, perhaps because that one controlled snooze just...works. I'm still not a morning person but it is manageable, and all it took was that changing of the story - from "It's too hard, I can't do it, I'm not the right kind of person" to "Yes, it's hard and it's okay that it's hard because I'm going to get over it like this."

I wonder how many other things in my life I need to change the story on.

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