Struggling To Get Out Of Bed In The Morning? Read This...

Do you ever get the feeling you’re the only one who struggles in the mornings?

Your alarm goes off and you a) hit the snooze alarm or b) start the desperate bargaining for how you can stay in bed.

Can I exercise tomorrow instead? Can I call in sick? Can I work from home? Can I cancel all my plans and stay in the warmth?

I hear about this happening a lot in conversations with clients and friends and - shock - also sometimes feel this myself.

In particular, over the last week, with clocks changing, I’ve been struggling to get out of bed in the morning.

So what can you do?

Expect it

We often go to bed with grand plans of yoga the next morning, prepping our lunch and jumping out of bed gleefully to our to do list. If you wake up and don’t feel like the person you expected to the night before, that’s ok.

The worst thing you can do is berate yourself and feel shocked, disappointed or guilty about your struggle.

If you know you don’t usually feel great, expect it and it will be easier to take when it comes up in the wee hours of the morning.

Watch it

In one of my favourite personal development books, The Happiness Trap (read my review here), Dr Russ Harris talks about distancing yourself from your thoughts.

As we’ve come to understand, our thoughts are not necessarily the truth, so if you can name the thoughts or watch them from a distance, they will likely be easier to deal with.

For example, you can name the thoughts you go through each morning (“Here comes the ‘stay in bed’ story again”) or mentally stand back and watch your thoughts drift by from a distance.

This loosens their power and effect on you and helps pull you out of the intensity of your feelings.

Move on with it

I’m sure many of us have had this experience - we are 100% sure we cannot face the day and will feel like rubbish all day if we even attempt to face the world.

We promise ourselves as soon as we get home from the day we can go back to bed and pull the covers over our head.

Then after dragging ourselves out of bed, we shower, have breakfast and can barely remember that crazy person who told us to not to get out of bed today.

We get on with our day and enjoy the evening, before returning to bed at regular time that night.

I’m not dismissing the need to have a doona day now and then, but usually it’s not actually what we need or want by the time we start our day.

Try moving on with your day’s activities and observe the results.

If you’re ready to try becoming a morning person, read my three tips here.

And let me know how you go with your morning thoughts this week and if these tips help you face the day. 

Why You Should Do A Thought Download Every Morning

As I mentioned here, I spent most of 2016 trying to get better and more consistent with journaling my thoughts.

I have to admit I really only dabbled - I preferred doing yoga and some meditation in the morning and by the time I was ready for bed, the thought of writing pages on my inner most musings sounded exhausting.

Even though I saw benefits from journaling, including more gratitude and better sleep, it never really stuck.

So far in 2017 I have been much more consistent with the practice and am using Brooke Castillo’s strategy of thought downloads.

So how does my thought download routine work?

  1. I spend 5 minutes in the morning writing down all the thoughts in my head so I can start to look at them.
  2. I run the self coaching model on one of my overriding thoughts. I identify the circumstance/fact that has brought on the thought, then note down my feelings, actions and results from here. I often do this once for the default way I’m thinking, then once for how I would like to be thinking.
  3. I note down the dominant emotion I felt the day before, and the desired emotion I want to feel today (for example, today’s proposed desired emotion is ‘inspired’).

And what have I noticed?

  1. I am grumpy in the morning! At first I felt a little worried by my thought downloads, but now I go back and have a little snicker at how irritable I was and how I didn’t continue feeling that way throughout the day.
  2. In line with the first point, I’m learning again that my thoughts are not the truth. So if I feel a certain way when I wake up, or am thinking certain thoughts, I don’t have to carry those same ideas with me throughout my day.
  3. It’s great to have an anchor emotion to focus on. I’ve been pretty good at sticking to my desired emotion for the day but I have had a few days where ‘overwhelmed’ was my number one emotion. I can then go back and look at how I got to a less desired emotion, and how I could have thought and acted to get to the emotion I wanted instead.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress of this practice but so far I’m enjoying being more conscious about my thoughts and the day ahead. As Brooke says:

Let me know in the comments below if you try the thought download practice of if you have another journaling technique you use.

 

How To Get Through A Tough Time

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A major purpose of this blog is to get real with you readers and to reassure you that you’re doing a great job, even if your life is not as perfect as you think it should be.

As I mentioned back in August, I was going through a tough patch - luckily something I haven’t been through in a long time.

While in the midst of one of these rough times, it can feel all consuming, like it will never end and like you never appreciated the ‘normal’ times.

It reminds me of when I get a cold - sore throat, runny nose, the works - and I realise I was never grateful for all the days I was healthy with a clear nose and fully functioning throat! 

So during this period I read, listened and soul searched through as much self-help collateral as I could find.

And you know what? There was no quick fix... sorry readers. 

But - I did pick up a few strategies that helped ease the pain and that I will remind myself of in future hard times.

Treat yourself like your best friend

When going through a tough time, it’s so easy to beat ourselves up and berate ourselves about getting over it as quickly as we can.

Negative self talk can come in - voices telling you that you're being weak, too emotional, too easily affected. None of this helped me.

What did help was imagining one of my best friends coming to me with a problem - would I tell her to get over it and stop being so stupid?

No, I would listen to her and make her cups of tea, and take her on long walks and hop on the couch with her to watch her favourite movies. So what did I do? I did all these things with myself.

Another thing I found helped was doing things that made me feel capable - getting involved in a tough work project or helping a friend or family member with a task I have skills in. It helped distract me and made me feel useful and worthy.

Don’t deny the negative emotions

Again, it’s so tempting to mock ourselves for feeling down and in turn try and bury any negative emotions.

Sure, thinking positively and expressing gratitude helped me, but fighting against the negative emotions did not. They were going to be there whether I kicked and screamed against them or not.

As Dr Russ Harris notes in his amazing book The Happiness Trap, we can make room for negative emotions even if we don’t like them, and they will often start to come and go without too much fuss. It also seemed at times that I was addicted to these negative emotions because I was constantly replaying negative scenarios associated with my problem. Again, fighting aginst that did not work. 

Molly Mahar also said a great quote that helped me with during this time and that was to ‘trust that when you are ready you will start to climb out’...

Accept the different seasons of life

I won’t post any frivolous quotes here but I’m sure you’ve heard the concept - how can we appreciate the positive seasons of life without the negative?

Not every year or season of life is going to be up, and if anything a slump makes us appreciate the neutral, so-called 'boring' times of life, or even better, the happy seasons.

It’s the nature of being human and I accept there will be plenty more crazy seasons to come. If you are going through a dark phase, I want you to know it will pass and one day you will look back upon it and it won’t seem as all consuming as it does right now.

Hang in there, be super gentle with yourself and put one foot in front of the other, day after day, and eventually it will be ok. I promise.

Five Ways I'm Failing At My Own Advice

 

Over the last few weeks, I've fallen off the wagon. Exercise has taken a back seat, my work stress levels have been ascending and the thought of meal prepping on a Sunday makes me want to lie down and take a wine-induced nap. But hey, that’s what this blog is about – being OK with where you are and taking it easy on yourself. It’s also about honesty and transparency, so today I present you with the five ways I've been failing at my own advice.

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Advice #1

When blogging about how to make the most of your commute, I offered catching up on emails on the train/tram/bus to really get you ahead for the work day.

Reality

I guess with this one I have been taking my own advice, but checking emails has been causing me more anxiety than is necessary. I’ll often see mail that I want to act on straight away but don’t have the right files available on my phone. Or I’ll see an email chain that’s taken place that I haven’t been able to chime in on, then start thinking about how I’ll word the email when I arrive in the office. Arriving at work flustered and stressed is not the aim, so for now I’m letting this activity go from my commute.

Fix

My work email is right next to my personal email so I've shifted it into a folder on my phone I never use (and is located on the last screen) so I can’t access it easily and I’m not tempted for a quick peek (this never works right?!). So far, so good, which makes me more relaxed on the commute.

Advice #2

Plan your work day ahead so you feel accomplished at the end of the day. Otherwise hours can slip away and you leave work feeling like you didn't achieve anything.

Reality

Um, totally failing at this one lately. I've been saying yes to a lot of meetings, putting out little fires everywhere and am glued to my email, rather than working on more important tasks.

Fix

I am totally guilty of this but I love to change the way I manage my to do list. Some weeks I like Outlook, some weeks I need to handwrite it and for the last few weeks I’ve been using Trello, a free online organiser. I freaking love it and I think it’s definitely made me more productive. I include all of my different projects or clients as lists, then add ‘cards’ for each task. I can add due dates, archive (so satisfying to move things off as you do them) and see that yes, I have a lot of tasks, but only some are actually urgent, not all.

Advice #3

Plan for a well-rounded week – allocate equal time to all the important areas of your life – career, relationship, friendships, family, leisure, hobbies.

Reality

Does coming home from work tired and watching House of Cards all night count as a well-rounded life? Yeah, the last month has not been great for this one. I've been letting exercise go, been zoning out in Instagram instead of talking to my husband and secretly feeling happy when plans with ‘semi-obligated-to-see-friends’ get cancelled so I can do nothing.

Fix

Turning this around is so important. Last week I made an effort to get to the gym two nights after work and I left with much more energy and motivation than I came in with. I've also been making sure to spend at least 10 minutes talking through our days with my husband in the evening, and have been going out with the friends that leave me feeling inspired and full. My mood and energy have definitely lifted.

Advice #4

Practise gratitude in the mornings – list five things in your head that you’re grateful for as soon as you wake up.

Reality

Or alternatively, pick up your iPhone, check your emails, hear the cat meowing for breakfast and before you know it you’re on your way to work.

Fix

Taking a few minutes at the start of the day is so important to me for setting up the rest of my day. When I start with positive thoughts, ease into the morning and do some yoga, I’m a much more relaxed human being. I feel less stressed, can plan my day better and am more zen all around. Time to get back to the morning routine.

Advice #5

It’s ok to feel negative emotions completely. When you’re spiralling with negative self talk, set aside time to feel it.

Reality

As with any new job, I've been suffering a little with imposter syndrome as I learn the ropes. I’ve also been focusing on plans for the year ahead (read: wishing I had more $$ to travel more and fulfil those plans) and sometimes I find myself in a real spiral. I push the negative emotions away and think ‘I should feel happy. I shouldn't feel like this’. And guess what? That doesn't work.

Fix

Read The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris. I've had so many epiphanies while reading this book, I haven’t even finished it yet as I want to give sufficient time for it all to sink in (he also recommends this – reading and practising the theories bit by bit). The crux of the book is a number of behavioural techniques from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Parts of it centre on allowing yourself to accept negative emotions and scenarios you dream up and accepting our thoughts for what they really are, just thoughts.

So although I’m revealing how I’m failing at my own advice, that’s really only a story I’ve made up. So here’s to accepting what is and making moves to get life back to where we’d like it to be – one non-judgemental step at a time.

To finish, a couple of great quotes from The Happiness Trap:

"The mind loves telling stories; in fact, it never stops. All day, every day, it tells you stories about who you are, what you’re like, what you should be doing with your life, what other people think of you, what’s wrong with the world, what will happen in the future, what went wrong in the past, and so on. It’s like a radio that never stops broadcasting."
"The bottom line is not whether a thought is positive or negative, true or false, pleasant or unpleasant, optimistic or pessimistic, but whether it helps you create a fulfilling life."

Have a great week lovely readers.