Sydney Gideon, MSW

Throughout my life I’ve never considered myself much of a morning person or really a night owl either. I’d wake up in time to roll out of bed, brush my teeth, get dressed and go. If I remembered I’d grab a protein bar on the way out the door and eat quickly on the way to school or work. Every day I’d plan on coming home from work, working out, and cooking a nice dinner. Without fail, everyday I’d come home exhausted, tell myself I’d workout tomorrow and proceed to order takeout from my couch. I couldn’t understand how people would wake up early in the morning to exercise or start working. Many people I knew would be up for hours before I even started my day. This all changed when I started graduate school. It felt as though all of a sudden I was thrown into both work and school while living in a city with a lot of good food and dessert available at all times. As I began to feel more and more anxious, tired and unhappy I knew something needed to change. I promised myself I would workout before work/school so when I came home I could focus on whatever assignments I had for the week. Initially, waking up early enough to exercise was a huge struggle. After a couple weeks passed I stopped snoozing my alarm and forced myself out of bed right when I woke up. I’d put a glass of water next to my bed the night before to drink, as I got dressed for the gym. I found that putting my cell phone on airplane mode overnight made a big difference. I was able to sleep through the night without feeling like I needed to check my phone and I got ready much quicker in the morning without the distraction. Not allowing myself to turn my phone on until I was on the gym also gave me the motivation to get moving. To my surprise, instead of being more tired, waking up early and creating this routine before work allowed me to have more energy throughout the day and more endurance to complete my assignments at night. I began to realize if I woke up 15 minutes earlier I’d have time to make myself a cup of coffee and turn on a show to watch while I got ready for the day. These small things allowed me to relax and get in the right headspace to tackle everything I had to accomplish during the day.

Many of the most successful people in the world today swear by their morning routines. Some journal, meditate, write goals for the day, stretch, make to-do lists, and countless other habits. Every individual is different and has to find what works best for them. The three most important things I’d encourage everyone to do would be 1. Turn your phone off or on airplane mode overnight 2. Drink a big glass of water when you wake up. We go 6-8 hours without drinking overnight and our bodies can become very dehydrated. 3. Allow yourself an hour for whatever routine you find works best for you. This hour should not include getting dressed, packing a lunch, or checking things off your to-do list.

Now that you’ve heard my story and my advice, here are some incentives to establishing a morning routine. By starting your day with a morning routine you give yourself the opportunity to become more present, relaxed, and positive going into the rest of your day. Having time to make sure you have everything you need for the day, time to go over your to-do list and calendar and prepare anything you may have forgotten decreases the number of days you go flying out the door already stressed, overwhelmed, and hungry as you try not to be late to your first meeting. Stress has a direct link to an increase in cortisol levels, which can cause many major health risks along with anxiety and weight gain. In addition, there’s a correlation between drive, cooperation, productivity and having a morning routine. If you allow yourself more time in the morning you give yourself the opportunity to relax when coming home from work knowing you’ll have plenty of time to accomplish the things needed before returning to school or work. If this information interests you I encourage you to do your own research on morning routines and find aspects that work best for you and your life style.