My whole life, I've been a troubled sleeper. Ask my mother. She'll tell you, in sentences punctuated by 25 years worth of exasperated sighs, I've never been particularly good at going to sleep at a decent hour or staying asleep through the night.
My brain's always maintained a higher than average level of frenetic energy, which isn't to say my brain is any more intelligent than average. On the contrary, I'm pretty positive two decades worth of consistent sleep deprivation has made me much, much stupider than I was meant to be.
But when I moved across the country and started a new job in December, I was ready to buckle down and become the person I've always dreamed of being. I was ready for a life of purpose, of mindfulness, of well-balanced meals and well-read conversations, of early to bed and early to rise. In short, I was ready to become Literally Perfect. You have to be the Gwyneth Paltrow you want to see in this world.
And y'all, it's going really well so far. I'm not perfect (yet), but in just a few short months, I've achieved something I never thought possible.
I've become a morning person.
Seriously! By morning person, I mean I'm up and out of bed five days a week before 6 a.m. On weekends, I am up and at 'em by 7 a.m., without fail. If I manage to stay in bed past 8 a.m., I feel like I've wasted half the day!
I've been making so many efforts and taking so many steps to better my own life (Have you guys ever heard of this thing called Taking Care of Yourself and Treating Your Body with Some Modicum of Respect? It's crazy!), but I can confirm no adjustment has impacted my life so intensely as my new early-rising habit.
Going to sleep at a decent hour, waking up early, and maintaining a morning routine has changed every aspect of my day-to-day life. When I wake up early (assuming I went to sleep on time), my entire day runs better. I'm able to better focus on work-related tasks, I'm less irritated by little things, I'm more creative and quicker on my feet. I make more mindful decisions overall, which affects everything from the food I eat to the texts I send. Basically, get a decent morning routine and you'll never regrettably text your shitty exes again!
My morning routine is a little intense, maybe, but I've been developing it for months. It varies very little from day to day. For the most part, here is what I do every single day:
5:30 a.m.: My alarm goes off. I have the snooze option turned off and my iPhone is set to ring with the most obnoxious ringer there is: the classic, terrifying alarm default. I've dabbled in some of the other, calmer alarm tones, but I need a true jolt first thing in the morning. I turn my bedside lamp on and chill in bed for a few minutes before getting up.
5:40 a.m.: I wander into the kitchen and gulp down a bottle of cold water. I always want water first thing in the morning, and I've also read that drinking cold water before you consume anything else helps kickstart your metabolism for the day.
6 a.m.: I change out of my PJs (almost always a very pretty nightgown or a giant tee I stole from some dude at some point) and into leggings, a sports bra, and whatever t-shirt I can find. I head to the gym by 6:15.
6:30-7:30 a.m.: I be up in the gym just working on my fitness.
7:45 a.m.: I get home, turn on my Mr. Coffee, and hop in the shower.
8 a.m.: After toweling off, I'll put on some old leggings and a big sweatshirt (usually this one, from Still Kickin' Co.) and head to the yoga mat for my morning meditation. I open the blinds and light a candle or two before beginning, to really set a chill mood.
I've been practicing daily meditation for over a year now, and it's the best part of my life. Even if I only get 10 minutes of meditating in a day, it makes a huge difference.
For a while, I was using Headspace, an amazing guided meditation app. These days, I've developed my own sort of routine. Mostly, it's about sitting in silence and allowing my mind to really rest. I focus on my breaths and take the time to really feel my physical existence.
I also often use this time to wear a moisturizing mask or some under-eye patches, to give my skin a much-needed boost for the day. I'm a huge fan of Suki Skincare Moisture Rich Brightening Masque. I'm all about bettering my body while I better my mind too (duh).
I recently got my hands on Olivine's gorgeous Daily Love Cards and I've made them a regular part of my mornings. Towards the end of my meditation, I'll draw a card from this deck of 34 handcrafted cards.
They're printed with words or small phrases like, "Brave," "Grateful," or "Be Here Now." I try to let whatever card I choose be a focus for that day. (The best days are when I pull the "Daydream" card.)
After all that, I'll spend 20 minutes getting dressed, doing my makeup, and drinking more coffee before heading into work for the day.
And that's my routine!
Since adopting this morning routine every day, I've seen its benefits spread out across my entire life. Working out daily encourages blood flow, and it's definitely improved my skin across my entire body as well as boosting my circulation, which has lots of health perks. Plus, I get to talk a lot about going to the gym regularly, which is of course the best part of going to the gym regularly. My morning meditations reduce stress and have, for sure, played a part in reducing the stress-induced breakouts and hair loss I was dealing with for so long.
Being strict about my wake-up time has forced my body, at last, into a healthy(ish) sleep schedule. During the week, I average five to six hours of sleep per night, but on the weekends I get eight to 10. (I'm boring!) Sleep is something I've struggled with my entire life, and my patterns still aren't perfect, but just by working on them a little, I've seen improvements in my mental health, my body, my skin, and my hair.
But most of all, I feel stronger and more capable as a human! Anything that makes you feel good, without hurting anyone else, is a good thing. This year, I'm all about cultivating habits that make me feel like a good, productive, healthy adult. There are some vices I'll never let go of, but my erratic sleep patterns are a thing of the past.
And if I can do it, anyone can. Seriously, this time last year, I don't think I was ever making it out of bed before noon. And look at me now! I'm truly on my way to becoming the present, mindful, happy Gwyneth Paltrow of a woman I've always wanted to be.
And you can, too. The only way to change your life is to change your habits. Good luck and good mornings to you all!