6:30 is prime time for my brain.
Yes, I mean 6:30 in the morning. Yes, I know how unfortunate that is for Caleb when my alarm goes off. I wake up, switch on the kettle, and immediately I’m ready to go. My best brain work is always done before 10am, and slowly deteriorates in quality to complete mush by about 8pm. I’m not kidding– if you ever see me at an 8:30pm meeting, I’m sorry in advance for my total lack of social skills. I’m pretty much useless in every mental capacity at that point, which would be a smidgeon funny if it weren’t so darn inconvenient.
The problem with a post-8pm mush brain is that you have to be awake early enough to make use of the productive times. Sometimes I feel like if I miss that narrow window of focus and creativity when the world is still, the whole day just feels a little off. If I don’t take time to be still and let inspiration get comfy, it comes and goes before I even get to say hello to it.
Lately, I’ve been sleeping in just late enough that my inspiration train has come and gone before I even wake up. I have been staying up for no reason, then sleeping in to make up for the staying up. Mornings are hard. Mornings running low on time to bask in grace are harder. They seem to set up the whole day on a note of hustle.
Ann Voskamp’s words from One Thousand Gifts have been coloring my thoughts lately. She explores how an attitude of thanksgiving touches every other aspect of life, ultimately leading to embracing true joy. Voskamp explores thankfulness in everyday encounters, but I’ve been wondering what happens when we give thanks for our bodies and belongings as well? What happens if we give thanks through properly caring for what we already have?
My 8:30 mornings are fine, but I’m working on returning to the deep thanks only a 6:00 stillness brings to my soul. Maybe you’re not a morning person. Maybe you are. Regardless of when your day begins, practicing a gentle start can easily be helped with a few steps to simplify and streamline. It’s amazing the difference a few moments the night before can make for a peaceful beginning the next day.
5 Nightly Habits for Grace-Giving Mornings:
- Notice the Details: There are some little things that make me so very irritated. I get so frustrated at clothes on the floor and a sink full of dishes. They seem so silly, but it takes just 5 minutes to tidy those things up and help my mood. It’s nice to not have wrinkled shirts be the first thing you see in the morning! Try to set aside just 5 minutes to throw clothes in the laundry hamper and tidy your bedroom each evening, or complete whatever little chores that make you go crazy when they’re left undone. It makes the morning so much more peaceful.
- Set Up Your Morning Space: This one is huge for me. Each night, I have my Bible and journal ready on the couch, a pen with plenty of ink, the kettle full of water, a candle ready to be lit, and my sweatshirt laid out out for me on the bathroom counter. Streamlining the little things the night before helps my brain to space out and go through my morning routine smoothly. There’s nothing worse that sitting down to write and realizing your pen is out of ink! Having the little things be taken care of can take a morning from good to great so easily.
- List it Out: Sometimes the early hours have to be used to catch up on some chores, reading, writing, or general life responsibilities. When I know that I have a full morning ahead of me, I write a to-do list for myself the night before. It helps me to switch off my brain to go to sleep, and to prioritize what I should focus on. By writing a list the night before, I’m not wasting 10 minutes of panicky planning when I wake up. By having a plan, it feels so much easier to get started!
- Give Yourself Something to Look Forward to: This sounds silly, but giving yourself a simple pleasure to get up for makes it so much easier to get out of bed. For me, I absolutely love fun coffee mugs. I love picking a different mug for each day the night before and setting it by my kettle. By having it ready to go, I wake up thinking about something small that I know I’ll get to enjoy! Maybe you love to have a playlist pulled up on your phone, open blinds, or a mug of overnight oats. Whatever makes you smile, make it happen everyday!
- Wake Up Gently: I used to use the loudest, most obnoxious alarm I could find to wake me up. My stress at the possibility of oversleeping has slowly been replaced with the understanding that loud alarms are seriously jarring to me. I startle extremely easily even when I’m awake, so starting the day with a huge jolt of noise is probably not the best! I recently downloaded Nature Melody, a free app that provides nature sounds and natural alarms. My personal favorite is “Songbirds”, but there’s a ton on there. I typically set Nature Melody to wake me up, then set my “traditional” loud alarm for 10 minutes later to alleviate my stress at potential oversleeping. I have yet to even need the extra emergency alarm, and my mood is 5 million times better when I have a softer start.
All of these nightly habits work for me, but maybe you like to do something totally different. Do you have anything that helps you start the day full of grace?
“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” -Psalm 143:8