The Positive Pensive

An anxious pessimist tries to find the positive
Branksome beach at sunrise, Bournemouth

An ode to early mornings

I don’t know about you, but so much of my day I feel so short on time – and that’s perpetuated by my obsession with planning and giving myself too much to do in the first place.

I’ve heard that it’s not uncommon for anxious people to want to plan each inch of the day – I suppose it sets out expectations and offers a sense of control. For me it runs a touch deeper than that: I also want to feel like I’ve accomplished something.

We spend so much of our time working, doing life admin or just generally maintaining a standard of living – and it’s so easy to get caught up in the humdrum of it all. Lately, I got a bit tired of it.

Our alarm goes off at 6.45am. We don’t usually get up until 7.45am (yes, that’s an HOUR of snoozing – don’t judge me). That means I’m rushing around the house to get ready before sitting in traffic, working, sitting in traffic, getting home, making dinner, making lunch, and washing up before finally having the time to get round to something I actually want to do.

By that point I’m feeling pretty low on energy and before I know it it’s 11pm and I’m knackered. Actually, that’s optimistic. These days I’m usually fighting the urge to sleep by 10pm. My teenage self would be having a field day right now.

So I thought I’d actually try and do something about it.

The morning struggle is real

It’s dark. You’re wrapped up tight in a fluffy duvet, feeling the most comfortable you’ve possibly ever felt. Your eyelids feel heavy. You’re somewhere between blurry dreams and consciousness.

The alarm goes off.

For whatever reason, this daily occurrence doesn’t seem to get any easier for those of us who aren’t predisposed to spring out of bed every morning (apparently we can thank our genes for that).

For me, mornings can be an especially anxiety-inducing time of day. Rather than feeling optimistic about all the wondrous possibilities the day presents, I feel rather overwhelmed by it. I wonder what might go wrong and what obstacles I might have to overcome. On weekends, I worry the time will just slip away and I won’t have ‘done’ anything.

So actually getting up when the alarm goes off is a tricky habit to break after years of just lying in bed ardently trying to keep some of these uncomfortable thoughts at bay.

But Monday came and I did it anyway. I got out of bed, padded downstairs, fired up the kettle and drank my coffee on the sofa. I tidied the kitchen, perused the news, and took my time getting ready for work.

Despite not actually doing much with the time, the point is I did what I wanted. I’d already achieve a few small things before 8am. And throughout the first week, I started to do more. Whether it was just doing the washing up or jotting down thoughts on how I might tackle some of the more difficult aspects of my day, I felt so much happier.

And that fed into the rest of my day. I actually felt energised at work. When I got home, I had fewer things to do and more time for me. What’s not to like?

Continuing the habit

With brighter mornings on the way (God bless you, daylight savings), carrying my early mornings on is a no-brainer. I took my better half to the train station at 6.20am at the weekend (that’s a 5.30 alarm, people) without a grumble – and, even better, I was actually way more prepared to make something of my day.

Instead of dropping him off and hurtling home to return to my duvet cocoon, I popped down to the beach. At 6.30am on a Saturday. There are few better ways to start your weekend than an empty, pastel beach with a thermos full of steaming hot coffee.

A beach at sunrise

And that happiness level sky-rocketed when an excitable, little Staffordshire Terrier jumped up to say hello (sand everywhere) and trotted around after me – much to the chagrin of its owner. Strong contender for best Saturday morning ever.

So, the plan is to carry on with the early mornings. The possibilities seem much more exciting than overwhelming already – and I’d urge anyone else feeling a little frazzled to give it a go. Once I’m in the habit of simply being awake, I’ll be looking to start exercising, cleaning, tidying – perhaps even draft up a blog?

Well, let’s not get too ambitious. 😉

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