Senior yoga teacher at Body Mind Life in Sydney, Chris Ralston shares his tips to turn yourself into a morning person.
If you’re the queen of the snooze button this one is for you.
It turns out being a morning person is all about ritual, and Chris Ralston knows a thing or two about that.
Speaking on Body+Soul’s daily podcast Healthy-ish, Ralston explains that no matter what is going on in his life, he makes sure there’s time for his morning routine.
“I never miss my meditation. I anchor my day around that. Even if I’m away on holidays or whatnot, no matter what I’m doing in my day,” he tells host Felicity Harley on the Healthy-ish episode You can be a morning person.
“For example, I had a one-on-one client this morning at 6:30am. To make sure I got all my stuff done – walk the dog, my 45-minute meditation, writing gratitudes – I got up two hours before. So I got up at 4:30am just to make sure that I could get those important things done in my day.”
“There’s just no time too early for me to get up to make sure I do those things. It’s a non-negotiable.”
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So how did he get to this magical place?
Choose things you love to coax you out of bed
“It should have a couple of things that you actually personally enjoy doing and something that makes you a better person in some capacity,” explains Ralston.
“For example, my morning always has a meditation in it. I think that’s something that definitely benefits my mental health and I also spend some time writing down some things to be grateful for.”
So whether its meditation, a yoga-flow or a gentle walk, pick something that will get you awake that you enjoy.
A good start to the day will set you up for the rest of it
For Ralston, meditation is a big part of his morning, in fact, he spends 45 minutes doing it each day.
“I really believe that just getting your day off to a good start really sets the tone for the entire day. I’ve had some great success with my little morning process, and I really do feel the benefits of how it’s transfers into my day,” he says.
While some people could see his meditation as a waste of 45 minutes of the day, Ralston says that taking that time makes him more productive throughout the day – meaning he makes up the time in the long run.
“You could see it as I’m losing 45 minutes of my day, but I feel like it probably gives me an hour and a half more space. Everything just seems to flow more smoothly and even I’ve lost 45 minutes in the meditation I feel like I gain more time just to deal with anything else that comes up.”
Run a behaviour audit
Are you still struggling to get your booty out of bed? Ralston recommends running a behaviour audit (something he learned from James Clear’s books) to see what’s going on.
“Sometimes we have habits that can creep into our life that aren’t beneficial. A habit generally means that it’s pretty much happening automatically with zero thoughts, like basically an automated behaviour. So sometimes you’re doing things that may not really help get you into the right mindset for an awesome day,” he says.
A behaviour audit involves writing down everything you do from the minute you wake up to the moment you walk out the door.
“There’s nothing too small that you could write down,” Ralston says.
Once you have your list of behaviours you can identify which of them are good, neutral or bad, and make changes accordingly. This process makes you more aware of the unconscious behaviours that may be hindering your morning-person-ness.
Don’t try to challenge yourself too much first thing
When you’re trying to pry your eyes open, the thought of a HIIT class is enough to make anyone snuggle under for dear life.
“It needs to be something very easy to do,” explains Ralston. “I think a short morning walk, would be such a great thing to do because you just got to get up, put your clothes on and get out the door.”
“You can do it half asleep. It’s not something that requires a lot of effort, so there’s no real ‘mustering’. If you had a big workout plan at 6am, there may be some extra mental stimulation or motivation that needs to be applied to get up and do that. With a walk, it’s just such an easy thing to do that it’s very hard to talk yourself out of a walk.”
Plus, once you’re up and walking, it might feel so good that you end up doing a light jog. That would never happen though if you didn’t leave the bed.
Work up to your ideal plan
Rome wasn’t built in a day, people, and you’re not going to be feeling sprightly at 4:30am right away.
Ralston recommends that you start with shorter meditations (even two, three or give minutes) and make sure they’re guided to keep your thought processes on track.
“If you don’t know anything about meditating and you sit down and close your eyes and give it a go, it can end up being very frustrating, very quickly,” he says. “You may be thinking, what the hell is this doing? I’m wasting my time.”
“Some kind of guided meditation or it’s probably the best place to start someone who’s talking you through some kind of process just to help you stay focussed on it. And yeah, once you get into it, five minutes will seem too short.”
There you go – choosing things you love, being gentle with yourself, and combining walking, meditation and gratitude. It actually sounds lovely to be a morning person.