Mornings are hard. Period. Even I, who have historically sprung (literally) out of bed at the sound of my alarm for years (hello, anxiety!), have lately been longing to linger in the tangle of sheets longer. When morning news reports threaten to overwhelm even the most nightmarish of our dreams, getting the day started can feel even more intimidating. Not only are we contending with the pressures of our individual lives, but figuring out how to use our time for the greater good can stop us before we begin.
Looking back to ancient texts, however, we see that mornings are considered the most auspicious time of day. Monks, clergy, and other spiritually inclined folks wake up in the pre-dawn twilight to sit in silent contemplation, opening themselves to receive the answers to the questions that plague us today, too. According to Ayurveda, the hours between 2 and 6 AM are governed by the vata dosha—the mobile, dynamic elements of air and ether—so waking up before 6 AM will get us moving in the right direction for the day ahead. Delaying wake-up much past this puts us into kapha time, or the heavier, more sluggish part of day, which is part of why having a long lie-in on the weekends can make waking up even harder.
Before you freak out about the concept of “before 6 AM,” know that you don’t have to start waking up at 4 AM to reap the same benefits of this magic hour. Try these morning hacks to help you either adjust your schedule or refine it so you can get to work solving the world’s problems like a boss.
How to Be a Morning Person–Sans Coffee
- Go to bed earlier: As noted above, the time of day in which we do things actually matters a lot more than you’d think. Our circadian rhythm—our bodies’ internal clock—is wired to sync with the sun’s rising and setting; think about how people evolved, without electricity, and whether they could do anything “productive” once night fell. For modern folks, this means aiming for a 10 PM bedtime. It may seem ridiculously early, but giving yourself 8 hours of sleep between 10 PM and 6 AM will mean better quality of sleep than the same 8 hours shifted to a different slot in the night; studies also find a link between staying up too late and depression. If FOMO is part of your vocabulary, try out this bedtime when you know you have fewer social and work commitments, or incorporate it into your next vacation or staycation.
- Start and end the day with gratitude: We’ve all heard of gratitude journals—the act of writing something (or three things) down you are grateful for at the end of each day. Combining this with a gesture of gratitude when you first wake up bookends your live with positive vibes rather than anxious ones. If your mind is fixated on whether or not you sent an appropriate email, for example, you could spend the night tossing and turning and wake up both exhausted and stressed—because of course nothing changed about your situation while you slept. Instead, try going to bed thanking yourself for communicating as best as you could in the moment, then rising with the thought that your awareness of others’ feelings is a gift you can use to improve many situations, even if the email is taken wrongly.
- Trade your coffee for matcha: It’s safe to say that matcha has evolved from a foodie trend to a wellness staple. We’ve been hearing about it for years (thousands of them, to be precise), and every day there seems to be a new way to drink or consume it. There’s a reason why match works better than coffee for your caffeine fix—it’s actually not a fix! The slow release of the naturally occurring stimulant will keep your energy levels more stable, preventing a spike and need to re-caffeinate in the afternoon; matcha also contains antioxidants and a relaxing amino acid called L-theamine. If you’re curious about all the benefits of matcha, check out this episode of the Party in My Plants podcast with Matcha Bar founder Graham Fortgang, and try these amped-up noodles for a creative use of the ground tea. I’m currently loving Four Sigmatic‘s blend with adaptogenic astragalus, brain-boosting Lion’s Mane, and ginger.
- Get outside: Exposing ourselves to daylight helps support our circadian rhythm, and fresh air gives our lungs a boost to improve overall respiratory function and exercise. Stepping outdoors first thing in the morning gives the greatest benefits, but if you can’t do that at least situate your bed near a window so that nature feels close by. Proximity to the sun will also help more quickly deliver the silent tones of nature’s best alarm clock! Practicing pranayama, or breathing exercises, and meditation in the morning and outdoors can foster the tranquility of mind that these practices develop, giving you a leg-up on mindfulness.
- Make skin care rituals your job: More so than any other part of my beauty and wellness routines (even yoga . . . 75% of the time), skin care is by far the most nourishing and enjoyable for me. When I hit upon the perfect combination of products, I was able to redefine what it meant to “put on my face” for the day—namely because I wasn’t putting anything on to cover me up! Whether you’re into fewer steps or the full Korean regimen, washing and moisturizing your face well can help your skin function better as a means of elimination plus boost your confidence when you greet the day.
What do you love about mornings? Share your #iwokeuplikethis selfies @PeacefulDumpling!
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