By Larissa Wright
Whether your soundscape is a cacophony of birdsong or the hum of a waking metropolis, whether you’re naked in the tropics or wrapped in a blanket against an icy chill. Whether the first rays are peeking through trees onto a reflective river or between buildings to illuminate concrete constructions, there is no better time to be awake than sunrise. There’s an undeniable power in that first light, a kind of mystery and peace that sets you up for the best kind of day. Getting up earlier than I need to is my favourite kind of therapy, and one of the best lifestyle changes I ever made.
Early morning is a wonderful time to enjoy your own company before you’re intruded upon by a demanding world; phone calls and messages, schedules, start times and perhaps rowdy family members. It gives you a chance to ease into the morning, get a relaxed start on your day, organise your tasks in peace or take time to nourish yourself. From a psychological perspective, I love the way it helps me feel like I chose the day on my terms, rather than being reluctantly dragged into it. Quiet time at dawn is the greatest gift I give myself.
Start the Night Before
Simple math dictates that if we want to wake up earlier, we have to go to sleep earlier. It’s a great idea to employ some sleep hygiene strategies such as avoiding caffeine after midday, putting screens away well before bedtime and ensuring your room is quiet and dark. You could try herbal teas with calmative properties, or some guided meditation and breathwork at bedtime for a natural approach to good sleep.
Rather than imposing a 5 am alarm on your 8 am self, a gentle transition will give you lasting results, and shifting your bedtime and wake time by 15 minutes each day will give your body and mind a chance to adjust. When setting an alarm, choose a favourite high energy tune or pleasant nature sound, not a nasty beep that will get you off to a resentful start.
Intention and preparation are key! Organise what you need the night before and place it by the bed—clothes, shoes, dressing gown, whatever it is you need to make getting up as straightforward and pleasant as possible. Make a firm commitment that when the alarm goes off, you’ll get straight up. Decide exactly what you’ll do once you’re out of bed, so all you have to do upon waking is follow the plan. It helps if the first thing you do is something you look forward to.
When the Time Comes
When the alarm goes off, get up. No considering options, no negotiating with your sleepy self, no snooze button, don’t give yourself a chance to make a different choice. Once you’re up, you’ll be glad you did it and creating new habits takes time. The nature of your day is decided in that split second you make the decision to get out of bed, and it will get easier every time you do it. Lasting change depends on consistent repetition.
If you find external accountability helpful, you could team up with a friend who wants to wake up earlier and start the morning with a quick phone call. Most of us are more likely to stick to our commitments if someone else knows about them.
Once you’re out of bed, leave the bedroom immediately. The hard part is over, there’s no going back!
Make it Matter
You did it – you’re up, and this precious time is your reward! I start with a really good cup of black coffee, but you may prefer fresh juice or herbal tea for a natural detox. Choose activities that nourish you, such as reading a positive book, journalling, working on your art, yoga, meditation or a walk. You may like to use this time to plan and organise your day by making lists or preparing healthy meals to avoid rush and confusion later.
Of course, you may prefer to treat yourself and get out of the house in the morning, in which case you could take your art or writing to a nearby cafe like Wildtribe Superfood Cafe and let them make the tea and juice for you! The important thing is to use the time mindfully, so you lay the foundation for a calm and productive day.
Consider a Retreat
Many people prefer a ‘dive deep’ approach to habit change, in which case you might consider a retreat. Taking time out for yourself to embrace holistic lifestyle changes in a supportive environment might be the kick-start you need to make dramatic shifts in your life. Combining a new sleeping routine with gentle exercise, organic foods, nature, detoxifying saunas and ice baths with plenty of relaxation will make it easy and enjoyable to embrace a balanced approach to the changes you’re after. Contact us today to discuss which of our transformational retreats will help you live your best life.