Learn to love mornings

I wasn't a morning person. I remember sleeping in until 11am on weekends, having a hard time getting out of bed, feeling unmotivated to do anything but eat breakfast and then plop down on the couch. By the time I felt like I could get out and do something, it was already early afternoon, a decent part of my day was just gone

We all need a day off here and there, a day to just relax, to do nothing.  My old habits were much different than that. They were lazy. This was before I worked night shift for two years, and that made things much worse. To "prep" for my next shift I would stay up until about 3 or 4am and then wake up in the afternoon.  I felt terrible any time that I was up in the morning, I never enjoyed that time. I missed out.

The other day I was thinking about life, how quickly our days pass, and how those days are numbered. I have a choice, to get up and live, or to lay around watching tv and sitting on my couch. The thought of looking back when you are nearing your end, and seeing a life lived after 12pm every day.. honestly it scares me. What a sad waste of time. 

I am so grateful that I have switched things around, I have broken old habits, and I have been steady with it for over a year now. I love my mornings. I love the dreamy light peeking over the hills, and then pouring through my windows. I love my warm coffee, I love diffusing oils that wake me up and make me happy. I love reading my daily devotional book alone. I love the quiet, calm energy before everyone rushes off to work. I love going places because mornings can turn any place (even in the Bay Area!) into a ghost town. I love seeing who else is out, running, riding their bikes, breathing that cool air. I love seeing those that love their mornings as much as I do. 

Photographers often refer to the time around the sunrise as the "golden hour." They are definitely referring to the lighting, but I call it the golden hour for many other reasons. It is the best time of the day! 

If waking up early is something that is hard for you, but you want to be a morning person, I understand. Here are a few tips for you to improve your morning game, to wake up and live.

  • Sleep training. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at at the same time in the morning. This takes discipline, but I promise it works. When I am not able to do this, I wake up so much more tired.
  • A warm drink. Whatever it is, hot lemon water, tea, coffee. Make it special, use your favorite mug, set it all up the night before so all you have to do is heat your water and enjoy. Life's little pleasures are what it is all about.
  • Peppermint oil. This is a go to almost every morning for me. I smell it straight from the bottle, or put some on my neck, or a drop on my thumb pressed to the roof of my mouth. Peppermint is a great wake up oil!
  • Be grateful. If you think about life in a positive way, if you are grateful to be given the gift of another day, you'll be more willing to launch yourself out of bed when you wake up in the am. I say in my head or out loud "thank you" several times. I just woke up, I am alive. What a gift! 
  • Dream. I don't mean while you are sleeping. Do you have dreams for you life? Or did you, and life has buried them?  Don't be afraid to dream. I think of the life that I want for my husband and future children, and I have to work for that. That dream, that image in my head instantly fuels me with the motivation to peel the covers back and get up. 
  • Make it comfy. We don't want to leave our beds because we are soo comfortable. I get that, so when I am reading, or having coffee, I am wrapped up in an oversized robe. And if I head out into that amazing but chilly morning air, I am bundled up in sweats and a hat. The thought of leaving your bed becomes less daunting when you are headed for warm clothes or blankets with your cozy drink of choice.
  • Watch your productivity. Nothing makes me more excited than seeing how productive I am when I enjoy my early mornings. I am able to relax, read, have grateful thoughts, and then start working. Without the rush of flying off to work or feeling stressed, I get so much more done. Try it for a week or two and watch how much more you are able to accomplish, and all before 12pm! 

Here are a few pictures of my favorite golden hours, that time that I have learned to love so much. 

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How to Sleep Better

Tossing and turning. Watching the clock. Counting down the hours of rest that you could be getting if you fell asleep RIGHT NOW. Flipping around to different positions for hours. Feeling jealous of the person sleeping right next to you. Feeling tired allll the time, even after an entire night's rest. Dragging all day, feeling exhausted at work. Does any of this sound familiar?

If you are having trouble sleeping then I feel for you! I remember how terrible it was. Unfortunately it was my "normal" for a long time, until I made some changes. The worst was my husband asking how I could possibly feel tired when I got 10 hours of sleep?!  My answer was always an exasperated "but I didn't sleep!!"

Luckily things have changed. Once I am in bed, I am out in about ten minutes, which is a small miracle! I wake up maybe once or twice during the night, and fall right back to sleep. I wake up early, every day, and feel rested. I work 12 hour shifts as a RN and I have so much energy, no matter how busy the day is! This is my new normal. Do you need help in this area? Here are my seven ways to a better night's rest. 

1. Stop taking naps and make an effort to go to bed around the same time every night. I try for about 10 or 11 pm, then set my alarm for 7-8 hours after that. This is perfect for me, to feel rested and my energy levels throughout the day are great! 

2. Have a routine. This shouldn't just be thought of for kids, we respond to evening routines as well. Do whatever relaxes you, a hot bath, a cup of tea, reading a book.. I love to take a shower then sit with a cup of tea on the couch. I keep it quiet at that time and dim the lights, I set up a glass of water by my bedside out of habit and start diffusing essential oils. My go to oils for sleep are cedarwood, lavender, sleepyize (a kids blend for sleep that I love!) and peace & calming!! P&C is seriously so good! You can apply them to your skin, the bottoms of your feet, your spine, etc. But I love to diffuse them. My entire room is full of these beautiful scents and those are a reminder to wind down, especially when you use them for that purpose specifically. 

3. Keep TV out of the bedroom. This is huge for me. When I lived alone I would watch TV until all hours of the night and it caused serious insomnia. My husband and I made the choice to only have a TV in the living room, and I will forever keep it that way. 

4. Find a mattress that works for you and gives you the support you need. We bought one of those foam ones that come in a box all rolled up and puff up when you lay it out, it is the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on! I didn't realize how much the mattress alone was helping me until we went on a vacation and both of us woke up a few times more than normal. 

5. Try eating healthier. This might sound crazy but foods that cause inflammation can hurt us in a lot of different ways. Sugar spikes and crashes don't help either. Try clean eating, cut back on sugar and processed foods, you'll feel better in a lot of different ways. You will most likely sleep better. Proper nutrition is essential!

6. White noise. There are so many white noise machines out there, some of them are wonderful. Think waves on a beach, rain, or simple spa tunes, find one that you prefer.. or use a good old fan, turned on the high setting. 

7. No caffeine in the evenings. The other day I made this mistake and had a cup of coffee at about 4:30pm. I could NOT fall asleep, it reminded me of my old ways, of always feeling frustrated and tired. It reminded me to write this post actually. From now on I'll just have my cup in the morning :)

I hope this is helpful for you! You deserve to sleep through the night and wake up rested. Our lives are demanding and we need sleep to function. We need to take care of ourselves to stay healthy. Try a bedtime routine and I promise you will feel like a different person! 

I wish you wellness.