It’s the urge to sleep past your alarm, hide under the blankets, and clench to the security of your pillow. Mornings can be dreadful, especially when life has you down. Whether we want to face reality or not, the fact of the matter is that nobody is going to do it for us.
Two years ago, during my junior year of college, I watched my life as I knew it crumble. My parents packed up our house in Pennsylvania and moved to South Carolina—saying goodbye to the only town I had ever called home. Not only did I feel separated from my childhood, I felt abandoned with nowhere to go. What I thought was the worst thing that could happen to me was only the beginning of what soon turned into a yearlong battle that would change my life forever.
Last year my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Separated by nearly 650 miles, seeing and being there for my family felt impossible. I withdrew from school, and for the first time, I went home. I helped my mother fight; I attended her appointments and held her hand through chemotherapy, but the cancer metastasized. Her biggest dream was to see me graduate college, and I knew being home wouldn’t earn my degree. That summer I moved back to Pennsylvania and enrolled with a full semester’s worth of credits, so I would be back on track to graduate.
Two months ago my mother lost her yearlong battle, three months before my expected graduation. I knew that in order for me to make it to graduation, which I wanted to do for her, I had to find a way to enjoy life again, instead of sleeping away the passing days. I quit making excuses for myself to stay in bed. Instead, I forced myself to rise each morning. The first week was rough, but as time went on, it became easier. Set a routine—it quickly becomes mindless.
These are the routines that have helped me the most:
Planning my day the night before.
Have reasons to get out of bed. Falling asleep with the ideas of the coming day will prepare you for the morning. Set realistic goals that you can keep in mind as conscious motivators. When your alarm goes off, you’ll already be at ease knowing what you need to accomplish, and the day will feel less stressful.
Avoid using my phone as an alarm.
While this is convenient, it’s easy to snooze and usually sits dangerously within arms reach. Try using a traditional alarm clock, and set it across the room on a desk or dresser. This change will encourage you to get out of bed right away. Now that you’re up, turn on a light or open the blinds. Seeing the world outside can be the best motivation!
Ignore the voice.
That’s what gets us every time. “Five more minutes won’t hurt.” Don’t make excuses to stay in bed—you set your alarm for a reason. Become aware of the voice in your head, begging for more sleep, and begin to ignore it! Your goals are waiting for you.
Doing something refreshing right away.
Shower, wash your face, or drink cold water. Pick something you can stay consistent with. It will help maintain and reinforce the habit.
Breaking old habits isn’t nearly as hard as people make it out to be. You simply have to have a reason change—to get out of bed. My reason? Fulfilling my mother’s dream for me to graduate college. Leave yourself with more time in the day to do the things that are important to you. It’s also a great start to inspire other habits such as working out, reading more, cooking, or whatever it may be. Find something worth working towards, and stick to it.
And most importantly, when life feels like it’s spinning out of control and you feel like you’ve lost everything, remember that there’s hope. You can build it by seeking inspiration, setting goals, and finding meaning in everything you do.