It is not unusual for me to tell potential clients, current clients, friends, hell, anyone I chat with throughout the day that I am a morning person. That’s mostly true. What I don’t discuss or reveal is the struggle I have upon waking in the morning. By the time the outside world, and even my children really see me, I have put a lot of effort into getting in my groove. Let me explain.
I wake up like many humans – mobile phone playing gentle music, weather and news being read to me after the time announcement. What? That’s not how your mobile greets you in the mornings? You may need to break up with it then. I used to have that loud, life altering WONK-WONK-WONK noise come from my phone and boy did it jar my little ass wide awake. It also woke me up into an immediate state of frustration and animosity…to anything. So I changed it. But I didn’t stop feeling like crap.
Depression runs in my family, so I am acutely aware of the genetic trap I may fall into, and work to combat that. Mornings are my trap. I feel even more fatigued than normal, have poor concentration, am highly agitated, and am overwhelmingly sad when I wake up.
I meditate often, but find that space between waking and meditating is a very tough time for me. Like, can I please stay glued to my mattress and lay there – tough. During the school year, that space between waking and meditating is crunch time; my teens do not wake up to their own alarm clocks and I’m forced to exit my room to wake them up. This is always an interesting experience for me as a clinician, mother, and human being: how in the hell do my teens have their mobile phone right beside their head with the alarm blaring so loud my neighbor’s dogs are responding and they are sound asleep? To make matters more interesting, these alarms sometimes go off before my own! I have the same scheduled time to wake them up during the school year. However, this is like they are telling me to wake THEM up sooner by setting their alarm(s) and having me come in to their respective room(s) to alert them of their own wake up time(s). Shit, I don’t know. Either way, I am up sooner than my own scheduled time for what appears to be no reason and now I’m uncomfortable.
To make matters worse, after exiting my room, I am suddenly maternally compelled to do anything but take care of myself. Suddenly, the dishes that I decided to wait to do last night is highest priority. Oh, and so is the laundry I left in the washer machine – I mean, who wants moldy smelling stuff? I’ll have to run that again. And damnit if that isn’t crumbs all over the counter. When’s the last time I dusted that? I think I see finger prints. What is that smell and where is it coming from because I’m going mom clean the hell out of that!
As you can see, I fall into a craze of must-do once I leave my slumber sanctuary.
What I Noticed
What is missing here: time for me to adjust. Time for me to just be. I am a human being, not a human doing. Instead, I’m jumping out of my slumber to immediate work of walking alarm clock and house manager/maid. This all before I see sunlight or give myself an opportunity to just be.
Let’s move on to sunlight. Have you ever wanted to running throat punch someone, anything, until you step outside and experience the sunlight? What? Aww, come on, I am NOT the only human that day dreams about running throat punching. Maybe it’s a Napoleon complex thing.
I wake up in darkness, mosey around my home waking up my teens in darkness, and then handle the house work in artificial light that isn’t that bright. There are many windows in our home and the beauty of the natural light really shows about midday. Before the sun rises, I’m left to finagle things in darkness, which makes me feel like crap. I also prefer to meditate uninterrupted, so that means I either have to get it in before anyone’s alarm goes off (doable, but a gamble), or wait until everyone heads out for the day, and by then, the sun is up.
I wish I could say I always make time for this, but I don’t. Life inevitably tosses a wrench in things and I’m off on a tangent that I never intended to be on. At least until I become aware. And when that occurs, I give myself time to just be. It may not be the adjustment to waking at that point, but rather being present with my own mind and body. Being present can be done any time during the day, throughout the day.
In the spirit of transparency, I am honestly not sure how long it takes me to become aware. I suppose I realize I am lacking awareness when I am pissed at anything for what feels like no reason. I realize it when I want to cry instead of taking on my day. I realize it when I am not in tune with my body. I realize it when I am reactive instead of present.
What Helps Me
Even if it is only a few minutes, I allot myself time to adjust to waking. If that means an alarm clock in another room is blaring, then it’s blaring. I have to be with my own mind and body. I have to make time to check in to myself: What sensations am I feeling in my body? Is there any tension? Where? What does my breathing feel like as it enters and exits my body? Oh yes, the sensation of the breath, deeply entering and giving me life – eliciting gratitude for another day. Your morning nugget: Gratitude is incredibly beneficial when you’re feeling down.
I enjoy being outside, whether running, walking, or hiking, with the natural sunlight warming my face and spirit. Nature is its own therapy, and so is the sun. Instead of going into my morning maternal tornado, I instead step outside and take in the healing sensations of the rising sun. My goal is always to carve out time to meditate before I engage in my daily tasks. I get more bang for my buck when I am able to meditate outside in the morning sun.
Whatever you decide to do to help yourself get through the mornings in a healthy, kind, and respectful manner is up to you. I encourage you to keep trying, and make it your own routine. If you try something to make your morning better and it sucks, try again the next morning. You don’t stop brushing your teeth all together because they get dirty after you eat, right? You brush them again, and again, and again, for your dental and gum health.
Same thing here my friend. Keep trying in an effort to improve your quality of life because you deserve it. And if you are struggling, remember leaning on your support system or seeking professional help are options worth using, and you’re not lame for using them.
Am I truly a morning person? I’ll let you all decide. For me, I’m just a recovering perfectionist trying, and if I am provided another day to try again, then I am grateful, even in the mornings.