- Mental Health
How Waking Up Early Improved My Life
The Early Bird Special
At this point I'm convinced that waking up early has saved my mental health. Not all the way, mind you, as I've been battling depression almost all of my 30+ years--but it has definitely helped out more than I could ever put to words in a hub.
The reasons are numerous and I'd never be able to detail them all, but here are the main reasons why waking up at 5AM every day has improved my lifestyle and psychological well-being.
My Insomnia Is Almost Cured
Since about the age of 13 I have been battling really shitty insomnia. There are nights where I'm up the entire time staring at the ceiling and worrying, or trying to distract myself by reading a Robert McCammon novel or Lawrence Krauss book. And there are also nights where I'd wake up 5-6 times throughout the night, sometimes for a half hour to 90-minutes at a time.
I don't have to explain how and why that wreaks havoc on every other aspect of one's life.
However, since I began waking up at 5 O'clock in the morning on a regular basis, I have all but cured my sleeping woes. Why? For one, it establishes a routine. My body got used to it. And secondly, it's almost impossible to have insomnia when you're up that damn early every morning.
It wasn't easy at first. I had a couple of weeks where I was dead tired, hardly able to drag myself around. But I did it, stuck to it, and the results have been nothing short of amazing.
It Has Given Me More Discipline
There is much less procrastination now, and much more getting down to business and getting everything done. And I mean everything. I no longer leave tasks for the Magical Tomorrow, where everyone's motivation seems to lie.
Another side effect of this new-found discipline is a healthier diet. Clean foods Monday through Friday. Weekends, well, that's a different story.
Early Morning Workouts, Relaxation, Breakfast, and Coffee!
I get up, chug a gigantic cup of water, put my coffee on, and hit the road by 5:15AM.
By 5:45AM I'm back from my run, have a small bite to eat, and begin my weight-lifting routine. At 6:45AM, that's over with and I sit down for a little while, have a cup of coffee, relax, and have another bite to eat.
I feel rested, relaxed, yet awake, alert and ready to go. Anxiety and depression at a minimum, caffeine and endorphins kicking in. It gives great mental clarity. This is of paramount importance for a healthy lifestyle--especially for a person suffering from debilitating depression and shitloads of crippling anxiety.
My Professional Life Is Much More Productive
Because of the mental clarity and happy endorphin boost I get from an early morning workout, my productivity has sky rocketed. I work faster, better, and get much more done.
As of right now and for the last couple of years, I am a freelancer. Mostly writing, but other side gigs as well.
Since I started waking up early, my professional life took a turn for the much-better. By 11 O'clock in the morning, I have more done than I would by 8PM when my schedule was all over the place. I had a lot of financial issues before. Now I don't.
This is one of my favorite aspects of being an early bird. Now, I understand that most of you probably work a 9-5 gig and don't have the opportunity. But for those of you who work from home, you get to actually enjoy mid-day.
From noon until 4PM I do whatever the hell I feel like doing. Why? Because I've already had a long workout and worked for 5 hours. Being able to get out into the sun and enjoy mid-day--especially in the Spring and Summer--is amazing.
Go for a walk, have another workout, read a book, go for a hike, take a nap, take a drive, meet up with friends for lunch--do whatever you want to do and enjoy the day. It's important that everyone enjoys themselves as much as they possibly can. For those of you with psychological troubles, it's even more important.
By early evening, I'm rejuvenated and ready to put in my last 2-3 hours of work.
I Worry Less At Night Now
This one is huge. I used to dread the following day almost every evening. Way before I got to bed and the wheels started to turn. By 8PM I was a ball of anxiety and depression and my fight or flight reflex was terrorizing me in every way possible. I could literally feel the cortisol dump into my shitty blood stream.
However, since I started waking up early, the nights are a chill time for me. I finish up my work, and just relax for a bit. Have a nice dinner. Maybe go for a walk or watch some TV. Anything that I feel like doing, really.
10:00-10:30 PM I shut all technology down and really start to wind down for the night.
Figured I'd just touch on the weekends for a minute. This is where I have my free-for-all. I eat whatever I want, drink whatever I want, and fall asleep at whatever time I want. I'm still usually up by no later than 9AM, so it doesn't disrupt my weekly routine. In fact, I tend to feel quite tired by Sunday nights from punishing myself all weekend long.
This is important, I think, because when a lifestyle is too strict it takes the joy out of everything else. You have to have a few days to just let loose.
I recommend early rising to everyone. Establish a routine, and give it a try. It's hard at first, but you get used to it and then you feel rewarded. I know some of you won't even consider doing so, but at least give it a passing thought.
I wish I would have started doing this at the age of 20. I think I'd be a lot more successful than I am right now. I swear on everything I know, this has turned my entire life around. It could do the same for you.