By: Sydney Boston

Not everyone is a morning person. To the select few, waking up may look like a Disney fairytale, equipped with chirping birds and singing. These are the bright, cheery people who autonomously decide to go for runs at six in the morning in the cold air—this article is not for those folks; this article is for the rest of us. The ones for whom waking up early may resemble something like rolling over to your alarm clock on your phone ringing incessantly, pressing snooze multiple times, until you give up and turn your phone off entirely.

Waking up early, in particular when you are not required to be awake for any particular reason, is challenging. On the one hand, it is incredibly freeing to have greater control of your schedule in graduate school than you would if you were working a nine-to-five job (unless you are concurrently working a nine-to-five job while in school, and if so, I applaud you). On the other hand, telling yourself to get up and be productive without external pressure can be surprisingly difficult. Here are a few tips that have helped me get the most out of my mornings as a graduate student:

  • Once you decide when you’re going to get up in the morning, stick to it! Training your body to get moving at a certain hour requires some determination, but the more you do it, the easier it gets! Like muscle memory, your body and mind will get habituated to this new routine.
  • Don’t check your phone for the first 45 minutes of waking (if possible). Instead, get ready for the day. Make breakfast. Breathe. Stretch. When you get drawn into the social media black hole first thing in the morning, it can be a massive stressor. 
  • Nourish yourself in a way that brings you joy! Be that a delicious, steaming hot cup of dark roast coffee or chamomile tea with honey. Perhaps a quick, filling chocolate-banana protein shake or a three-egg omelet. Taking care of ourselves in the most fundamental way provides us with the energy we need to take on the day.
  • Do something just for you. That could look like a ten-minute meditation, journaling, a dance-fitness YouTube video, or a walk around your local park. Beginning the day in this manner sets a positive tone for what’s to come. It is also a reminder that, no matter how busy we are, we can always make time, however briefly, for the things that lift us up!

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