With late-night library sessions and watching “just one more” episode of Stranger Things into the early hours of the morning, I used to consider myself a night owl. After 13 years of waking up early to get to school by 8 I thought I would bask in the beauty of sleeping-in at university. I only had to wake up early for two days of the week last year and with 7 p.m. mass on Sunday, I fully utilized the extra sleep hours for the remaining 5 days of the week. When I would groggily rise around 10 a.m. or later, there were no elongated praises of thanksgiving, moments of meditation, or sunrise stretches. So, yes, walking 40 minutes to Lake Ontario to do yoga before class is highly unrealistic, but calming my mind before a hectic day is not as difficult as my frazzled thoughts made it out to be.
Towards the end of the school year I focused on beginning my day acknowledging the Lord’s presence and offering everything over to Him. I like to say the morning offering prayer and read my Blessed is She devotional email. These two things shift my focus for the day with brighter, clearer spirits. Maybe for you it is speaking to the Lord through journal writing or going for a short walk around the block with your favorite praise and worship tunes. Taking the time to wake up early for prayer prepares me for the highs and lows of the coming day.
If you find yourself struggling with the whole, “But how do I keep my eyes open at 7:00 in the morning?” thing, I’ve got you. Here are some of the things that help me combat the early morning bed-head:
1. Rise to an inspirational alarm. I recommend setting a high-energy song as your alarm. Bands like Coin and Colony House have several spirited serenades to boost your mood.
2. Place your prayer book on top of your phone. This is not only a physical representation of what you should initially reach for in the morning, but having my prayer book be the first thing I see allows my fuzzy mind to focus on what it should and not turn straight to snapchat.
3. Reflect. Sometimes it can be easy to read through prayers with no idea what I just recited. Taking things word by word allows me to pick up on new meanings from scripture and prayer. Reflection also reminds me to take things slow instead of subjecting myself to the hustle of a hectic morning.
4. Contentment and Productivity are a dream team. The beauty of waking up 2-3 hours earlier than normal? You can get so much more done! Whether it’s making my bedroom floor slightly more walkable or exercising to release some endorphins and lift my spirits (all after prayer of course), waking up early is a great way to incorporate some of those life necessities that fall behind in a busy schedule.
5. Offer up the difficulty of waking up early; the first few weeks of early-rising is going be hard. Along with other aspects of your morning routine, waking up early will require practice. Be gentle with yourself if you need to ease into the daylight one less snooze button at a time. Waking up earlier also means you’ll probably have to go to bed earlier too. Contrary to the popular belief of most university students, sleep is necessary to recharge.
“At dusk weeping comes for the night; but at dawn there is rejoicing.”
-From Psalm 30