WAKE UP! New Year, New Morning Habits.

2013 is fresh and full of potential. As college students, we have the added new-ness of a new semester, new classes, and a new schedule. As people are coming back to UNC and preparing for the semester, many take this opportunity to make resolutions for the spring semester. Often these go by the wayside fairly quickly as people get back into their old routines.

I am taking a different approach this year. I’m focusing on creating good habits and routines that will help me be more productive. Specifically, a morning routine that helps me wake up and sets me up for success throughout the day. I figure that if I can consistently have good mornings, I can be the best version of myself for longer throughout the day, and cut down on the time that groggy/cranky/sleepy/short-attention-span/snarky me is unleashed on the world.

Some background: I am not a morning person. I am constantly late to anything that happens before 2pm, and I hit the snooze button way more times than I should. When I lived on South Campus as an undergraduate, I missed way more classes than I should have, simply because my warm bed was much more inviting than a cold 30-minute hike to class. Days when I didn’t have a good start I was less likely to get work done, less likely to be outgoing or meet new people, and more likely to eat poorly.

And so I resolved to make my mornings better. Here are 5 steps that I’ve found to be helpful.

Step 1: Get Up! There are lots of tips for waking up strewn all around the internet, and you can find them all thanks to Google. There are even some alarm clocks marketed towards college students and are really, really loud. If you use your phone as an alarm, there are tons of different alarm clock apps to try to make sure you get up on time. However, the thing that works the best for me is this: Have a “feet on the floor” policy. Every time you hear the alarm, know that you are going to stand. Failure is not an option. No snoozes allowed. Once you are out of bed, you’ve already done the hard part! The morning can only get better from here. I’ve found that as my body has gotten used to this new anti-snooze policy, the mornings have gotten easier.

Step 2: Drink. Having a glass of water in the morning helps me wake up and get moving, and also helps me get a start on staying hydrated during the day. Having a cup of tea or coffee for the caffeine is also a good way to start the day, just make sure you are not over-doing it.

Step 3: Breakfast. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Breakfast is super-duper important for getting out of the gates strong and off to a good day. As the article points out, it has benefits for things like memory and attention-span, both of which are nice things to have if you can get ’em. Every week I decide what I will be having for breakfast, make sure I have those items, and then make sure I leave myself enough time in the AM to eat a breakfast that is quick, but not rushed.

Step 4: Go to Sleep. The biggest thing you can do to ensure that you knock your mornings out of the park is to go to sleep at a reasonable hours and get enough rest. This is much easier said than done. Having a bedtime routine is incredibly important to helping you fall asleep, and can ensure that you are getting the most of your night. Do things like take a shower, take a walk, take deep breaths, do light (not school or work related) reading in bed, reflect on the day, and wind-down before hitting the sack. Having an evening routine that works for you will tell your body that it’s time to sleep, and will disconnect you from the work of the day. Set 30 minutes before bedtime to focus purely on getting in the right mindset for bed. Naps are also an option to beat the afternoon slump.

Step 5. Be consistent. This is the biggest obstacle for college students, who have different schedules depending on what day of the week it is, and have completely different week-day vs. week-end routines. Making sure you deviate as little as possible from your routine will help your body adapt to your new morning and nighttime routines, which will make it easier to wake up on time. I’ve found that this is incredibly important, especially when it comes to wake-up times.

Hopefully, these tips will be of use to you as you start the new year and the spring semester!  As always, take care of yourselves!

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