Early Awakening Zen: 10 Ways to Fix a Morning Ritual

Original author: Chris Bailey
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We continue to acquaint you with translations of Chris Bailey's articles, where he shares tips he learned during the “a Year of Productivity” project. Previously, we published articles by this author, they are available on our blog in the section "personal productivity" .

So, give the floor to Chris!

What you should think about before reading this article:It is proved that early awakening does not affect the socio-economic situation of a person or his productivity. On the other hand, I think that early awakening is truly a key habit, which has the potential to create a chain reaction to change and tidy up other everyday activities. Before reading this article, think about what exactly you would like to achieve from an early awakening. Personally, I like to feel a little tired after training, relaxing from meditation and confidence after planning my day before breakfast, but your goal may be completely different.

From the moment I started my project “Year of Productivity” about 10 months ago, I slowly began to abandon my old habits in order to establish the tradition of waking up at 5:30 every day. I state a fact: despite the fact that I still wake up at 5:30 the last two months, to achieve this was not at all easy.

But during this time I made a lot of discoveries.

The 10 methods described below proved to be the most effective in consolidating the morning awakening ritual. I learned about some of the methods from the list from research by scientists, but I accidentally came across most of them by trial and error, randomly using them in the expectation that some idea would work. Your goal may differ from mine, but I'm sure that almost all the methods on my list will help you reinforce the tradition of getting up early. Good luck

1. Find your "purple pill"

imageEvery morning, right after my alarm clock wakes me up at 5:30, I take two purple creatine pills that will help me train longer. And here it is, a secret: the label on the container of pills clearly states that they must be taken only half an hour before the start of the workout. As soon as I swallow them, they turn into a time bomb, which drives me to the gym at 6. This works every morning.

Even if you do not want to include a workout in the morning ritual, you will surely have your own “purple pill” that will drive you out of bed in the morning. Here are some examples:
  • Get a coffee machine with a timer, start it for the time you want to get up, and the machine will present you with a cup of fresh coffee in the morning.
  • Drink a large glass of water before going to bed. You will have no other choice - you just have to get up and visit the toilet early in the morning!
  • Do not check mail after 6pm. If you are just like me, then in the morning you are sure to jump out of bed to see if you have received something new and interesting.

Your mind is a stubborn beast, so sometimes you need to cheat it to make it obey. Finding my “purple pill” is one of my favorite ways to make my mind wake up every morning.

2. Reward yourself for success

When I interviewed Charles Duig, author of Strength of Habit, he talked about how important it is to reward yourself every time you acquire a new habit. He used the example of getting used to training. “Even if you think you want to start practicing, your brain considers you a liar because you really don't like exercise. You need to teach your brain to associate training with something pleasant, for example, a slice of chocolate, a long hot shower or 15 minutes of communication on social networks. No matter what the reward will be. The only important thing is the fact of encouragement and the fact that you really enjoy your prize. ”

imageEvery time you get up early, reward yourself with something that is truly enjoyable for you. My reward is a cup of coffee. For me, this is a really good encouragement that has helped to solidify the morning ritual.

3. Do not be hard on yourself.

The tougher you feel about yourself in the process of introducing a new habit, the less likely it is that you will succeed.

For example, think about how many people try to develop the habit of getting up early. Some do not have a proper evening ritual, so they watch TV until late at night and wake up exhausted the next morning. Not getting enough sleep, they drag legs all day. Their productivity and mood are falling, and they only feel worse because they woke up early.

It is worth repeating: the more you demand from yourself, getting used to new rituals, the less chance of success of the case. Here is another example: do not reproach yourself by postponing the alarm time in the morning 10 times; better think about what will make you jump out of bed, ask yourself the question: why do I feel tired?

4. Follow the evening ritual.

I think when people get used to getting up early, they often focus on early awakening, forgetting to go to bed early. These two concepts are inextricably linked, like two sides of the same coin. If you don’t keep the tradition of going to bed early, the next morning you will hate yourself for getting up so early. If you are an ordinary person, your body needs 8 hours of sleep daily. If you sleep less, it will discourage you from instilling a new habit.

In my opinion, your evening ritual should include activities such as:
  1. Develop signals that it is time to go to bed soon;
  2. Help your brain relax before going to bed.

What your ritual will consist of is up to you. For example, I will show you my:
  • 20.00: Switch the smartphone and tablet to flight mode, turn off the computer
  • 05.20: Take a shower or bath
  • 20.30: Meditation
  • 21.00: To write down a diary for three things for which I am grateful today, as well as record one positive experience that I have gained on this day. [1]
  • 21.15 - 21.30: Read in bed, then go to bed

All these routine activities help me relax and give me a signal that I will go to bed soon.

Hint: All signals for fixing habits can be divided into five categories: a certain time of day, a certain place, the presence of certain people, and behavior that precedes the ritual itself. For example, if you put your jogging clothes next to the bed in the evening so you don’t look for them in the morning, this morning signal includes time (6 hours), a place (next to the bed) and previous behavior (wake up).


5. Disconnect all devices at a specific time

One of the habits that I recently acquired and which helped me get up early is to switch my smartphone and other devices to flight mode from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. (1.5 hours before going to bed and 2.5 hours after waking up). Airplane mode disables all signals on your devices (Wi-Fi, cellular, Bluetooth), which protects you from the arrival of various messages, tweets, emails and other updates.

In order to consolidate this tradition in your life, it will take about two weeks (if you decide on this). As soon as you manage to do this, you will feel incredible changes for the better. Here are a few of them:
  • This will help your brain relax before bed and you will fall asleep much faster.
  • This will force you to do more valuable things before going to bed and after waking up (for example, keeping notes and planning) instead of useless checking for updates on social networks.
  • This signals that you will soon go to bed.
  • This will allow you to be more calm before going to bed, because the phone and other devices will not distract you.
  • The absence of a phone near the pillow means that you will not have distractions that will delay you in bed in the morning.
  • This ritual will force you to tackle the issues that have accumulated, when you have the energy for it, and not at the moment when you just opened your eyes or fall from your feet from fatigue at the end of the day.

I can continue, but I think you already understand everything. Turning off your devices at certain times will help you sleep better, make you more calm and alert before going to bed and after waking up.

6. 2-3 hours before bedtime, limit exposure to blue light.

Exposure to blue light is harmful to your sleep. It sounds strange, but it is.

Blue light has been proven to interfere with the production of melatonin, a positive sleep hormone. In fact, the study found that subjects who were not exposed to the blue lamp before bedtime (they wore UV blocking glasses - for $ 10 on Amazon) slept 50% better and woke up 40% happier! [2]

Most of the UV light that you feel comes from your electronics (smartphone or tablet). How to solve this problem? Wear UV blocking glasses, stop using your devices 2-3 hours before bedtime, and turn off the main light. [2]

7. Stop using caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtime.

image According to the Food and Drug Administration, “when it enters the body, it reaches its peak in the blood after 1 hour and stays there from 4 to 6 hours." [3] In other words, if you consume caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtime, it will boil in your blood just when you try to sleep.

My rule that prevents caffeine from disturbing my sleep and the morning ritual is to stop caffeine 6 hours before bedtime.

8. Do not force yourself. It is

almost impossible to change your long-term habits in one night, and this statement is especially suitable for the habit of waking up early.

The slower you get used to the ritual, the more successful you will be. For example, instead of waking up one hour earlier than yesterday's awakening, get up just one minute earlier. Without forcing yourself, you will gain a series of small victories over yourself, which will help you form a habit. You will not lose faith in your strengths and, best of all, you will certainly succeed in consolidating the morning ritual through gradual addiction.

One cannot get used to early awakening in one night. Moreover, if you will perform this ritual for years, you can wait a bit until you get used to it.

9. Eliminate Obstacles to the Way

When I interviewed Charles Duig, one of the topics he touched on was the importance of anticipating obstacles to reinforce a new habit. For example, if you have a business trip in three weeks, it’s easy to draw up an action plan in advance. It’s much harder to understand how you can wake up early during a business trip.

When you strive to reinforce the tradition of early awakening, make sure that you foresee all possible obstacles to your goal. It may happen that there will be periods of time when you don’t want to wake up early (for example, on vacation), but planning will help you deal with probable difficulties.


10. Be honest with yourself.

I think that the biggest mistake of people who are trying to acquire a new good habit is their unwillingness to be honest with themselves in the process.

I admit the fact that sometimes you need to fool yourself a bit in order to achieve more in the end (for example, looking for your “purple pill”). However, when you introduce a new ritual into your life, it is important to be honest in recognizing your ups and downs.

For example, the reason that you move the alarm clock 6 times in the morning may be because you are tired of changing your lifestyle too quickly. Or it may be that you have difficulty going to bed at a certain time, because there are things that simply can not afford it. Is the evening show too funny not to watch? Or are your children unwilling to go to bed late at night?

Sincerity in relation to yourself will help you determine what prevents you from going to bed and getting up early, and realizing what changes you need to make in your life to achieve your goal. In addition, being honest with yourself will help you with the other tactics in this article.

Everything on this list really helped me. I am sure that my methods will help you to make wonderful changes in your life!

The main idea: To consolidate the morning ritual, you need to find your “purple pill”, reward yourself for early awakening and not make excessive demands on yourself in the process, create an evening ritual and turn off the electronic devices at a certain time, turn off the UV 2-3 hours before bedtime - a lamp, stop consuming caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtime, do not force yourself to anticipate possible obstacles in advance, and also be honest with yourself. Wow!

1. Source: http://alifeofproductivity.com/5-habits-lead-happiness/
2. Source: http://ayearofproductivity.com/smartphone-light-keeping-you-up-at-night/
3. Source: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/buyingusingmedicinesafely/understandingover-the-countermedicines/ucm205286.pdf

P.S. from the translation editor: if you are interested in reading other articles by the author, we highly recommend studying “How to choose the key aspects of life in order to invest energy and time in them” .

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