Rise and Shine!
Mornings with MS can be their own kind of unique challenge. I’ve never been even a little bit of a morning person, but with MS, my ability to be a morning person seemed even more impossible. However, after reading quite a bit about the benefits of starting your day waking up early, I decided I might as well give it a try. I mean it doesn’t matter how long I sleep, I still wake up feeling like I haven’t slept, so I didn’t think it would make much of a difference. Little did I know, waking up early would actually improve how I feel and function throughout the day. I’m always up for ways to improve my daily life with MS, so I have to share this with you! I was a skeptic in the beginning, too, but bear with me. It’s worth it.
A lack of structure was stressing me out
After having my son 3 years ago, my husband and I agreed that I would stay at home with him until he was ready for school. Well, shortly after he was born, I began working from home. It’s a very flexible job, where I’m able to work whenever I have time throughout the day, which has been very helpful. However, trying to balance that as well as taking care of a toddler and my home has proved more busy and chaotic then I imagined. After one too many weeks of feeling like my days were jam-packed and certainly not long enough, I decided I had to do something different. As we all know, stress worsens our symptoms, and not having any type of structure in my day was completely stressing me out!
Waking up early
So, I decided it was time to start waking up early. It sounds simple, right? People do it every day. But, after a few years without a set schedule, I knew it was going to be hard to get used to waking up early again. It was time to start setting the dreaded alarm again. Sure, the first week was tough, but boy do I wish I would have started doing it sooner! I genuinely believe what people say about getting up early: getting up early does lead to more productivity, reduces your stress level, and leads to a more meaningful life. It sounds crazy, but allow me to explain.
When waking up later, I was sluggish and grumpy
You will have more focus and energy: After having my son, I got spoiled by the fact that after about 6 months, he was a great sleeper. Most days, I was able to sleep in until at least 7 or 8, even 9 some days. But, in waking up later, I noticed I felt more sluggish throughout the day. I also saw that by not having control of when I woke up, I was not a very nice person. When I was woken up by a toddler who is a huge morning person, I was grumpy. While he woke up feeling like rainbows and butterflies, I would wake up feeling like I had been punched in the face.
Setting a better tone for the day
With MS, I find it extremely hard to wake up in the morning. My eyes refuse to work and try their darndest to stay shut for as long as possible. So waking up to someone who immediately needs your attention, when you need at least 30 min to open your eyes just wasn’t working. That, and waking up grumpy doesn’t exactly set the best tone for your day. By waking up at around 6 or 6:30, it allows me time to wake up, get some work done, and be energetic (as energetic as possible) and ready for when my son greets me with his sweet sleepy face.
It enhances your productivity
It enhances your productivity: This is probably the biggest thing I’ve noticed. By getting up early, I get more done throughout the day. While before I was having to stay up until at least midnight, now I’m able to get my work done at a decent time AND have the evenings to unwind and enjoy with my family. Plus, I get to go to bed at a decent hour, which I desperately needed. And, because I have more focus and energy, I find myself doing random chores around the house in my spare time instead of feeling too run down and tired to do anything productive. This isn’t to say I don’t get tired and want to crash midday, but I feel I’m not as tired as usual. I also have more time and energy to play with my son, which is so important to me. Again, just allowing myself the time to wake up and get going in the morning without feeling rushed, has improved every aspect of my day.
Better for my mental health
Your mental health will thank you: it helps reduce stress and increase positivity. Another huge thing that I’ve noticed is that I’m in a MUCH better mood these days. I don’t like being rushed, and because my days were so rushed and chaotic before, my mood suffered. And, my poor family had to be at the brunt end of it. By waking up early, you reduce stress by eliminating that need to rush. Just by removing the need to rush, I noticed my attitude improve immediately. I also noticed I feel more positive and optimistic. Because of where the lesions are in my brain with MS, I have a hard time regulating my emotions on my own. And lately, I’ve had a hard time emotionally. I’ve been depressed and off. I noticed instead of my usually positive attitude, negativity was creeping in wherever it could. Now, even if I wake up feeling bad, I feel like because I’ve eliminated unneeded stress, I am able to face things more positively. No, I don’t view every day with MS with a positive viewpoint, but it does help me remember that I am strong and able to face whatever the day may bring. Emotionally and psychologically I feel much more prepared and much more stable.
Sustaining a fitness routine
It helps you sustain a healthy diet and exercise, as well as sleep better: If you’ve read any of my previous articles, then you know this is important to me and has been a literal life-changer. But, lately, it has been a big struggling point. I had been so tired from stressful and chaotic days, that I would either be too tired to work out when/if I found the time, or I wouldn’t have the energy to give my workouts my all. Trying to get exercise in at 10:30 PM just wasn’t working out for me. And because I wasn’t getting some kind of fitness routine in most days, I felt terrible.
Better nutrition and better sleep
Also by waking up early, it allows me time to make a tasty and nutritious breakfast. I don’t have to rush and choke down a protein bar, I can actually take the time to make a nice smoothie and enjoy it. And having a good breakfast motivates me to eat better the rest of the day. I’ve also noticed since waking up early, I haven’t missed one workout. I’m not so busy that I can’t find the time. And bonus, I have the energy to break a great sweat which in turn makes me feel amazing. Staying physically fit and able has become a vital part of how I deal and cope with my MS. When I make the time to work out, I feel 100 times better than if I don’t. And, one of the best things has been that my quality of sleep has improved. I’ve always struggled to fall asleep. I’ve written a few articles about this. It doesn’t matter how tired I am, I struggle to fall asleep on my own. But, waking up earlier is allowing me the time to go to bed earlier. And by the time I get in bed, I’m so exhausted from my productive day that I fall asleep easier, and my body goes into deeper periods of sleep. Honest to goodness, I haven’t slept this well since after my son was born three years ago!
More time to pour into others
It gives you more time to pour into others. One of the biggest things I’ve learned as a mom is that I cannot give my husband and son the love and support they need if I am not at 100%. If I don’t take care of myself, then I can’t take care of them. Waking up early has become my me time. I like to wake up and start working, but while I work, I’ve started to do something for me. I enjoy listening to podcasts and music to have some kind of personal development. I like to feed my mind with uplifting things first thing. When I start my mornings pouring into myself, I’m better able to pour into my family and friends during the day. MS takes a lot out of me and has taken a lot away from me, but I will never allow it to take my happiness or my willingness to improve. Weirdly enough, waking up at 6 is kind of my way of saying, “Hey MS, I’m ready to kick your butt today!”
A personal challenge
To sum it up, waking up early for the past month has really improved my life. I would have never imagined forcing myself to wake up early would actually make me a much more pleasant and happy individual, but it has. There is no denying it. Before, I couldn’t find the time to do all that I needed to do. And I definitely couldn’t find much time for myself. So now, while waking up earlier is still hard (even a month in), it’s actually becoming something I look forward to. I know most people probably do wake up early for work, but if for some reason you don’t, I encourage you to start setting your alarm again. I challenge you to set your alarm earlier than you have to for one week and see how you feel. Even if it’s just ten minutes earlier than your usual wake up time. You can take baby steps if you need to. Waking up early has been a challenge, but boy, has it been worth it. It was a big change from what I was used to, but it was a needed change. My days required much more organization and time. I find that with something like MS, I thrive on structure and routine. I need it. I hope you found this helpful, and I hope you take the challenge, I can’t wait to see how it improves your life!