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As we approach Blue Monday (21st January), many of us may be struggling to get out of bed in the morning and feeling the January-lull, often associated with feeling unmotivated and unproductive.
To help overcome the January blues and get yourself into a good morning routine, we spoke to a range of experts and pulled together some top tips on how you can become more productive in the morning.
After the excitement of the holiday season, we often feel a little deflated. Psychologist in mindfulness and sleep at Fresh Perception, Hope Bastine, gives her thoughts on how to embrace the New Year: “Over Christmas our schedule is more relaxed. We are able to unwind and feel the benefits of a better quality of life by connecting with loved ones. However, when the working week begins again, people have to adjust to a tighter timeline, especially in the morning. We can all too easily lose the opportunity to make time for meaningful connections.
“Going back to work after spending time relaxing over Christmas is a major shock to the system. The latest research on sleep deprivation shows that even an early morning start can cause sleep disruption and insomnia. Sleep deprivation is a major contributor to mental health, especially depression and anxiety.
“It’s always easier to stay up late than get up early so try to adjust your sleeping and waking schedule by small, hourly increments to make the mornings a little bit easier. This year, give yourself some ‘me time’ in the morning, even if this means getting up 10 minutes earlier so that you can squeeze in a quiet moment to sip your coffee, do a few stretches or fit in five minutes of meditation.
“Remember to be kind and compassionate to yourself and practice the art of self-care. Avoid working in more than chunks of four hours at a time and take periods of active rest throughout the day, whether this is by taking a walking meeting or eating lunch away from your desk.”
Mollie Millington, personal trainer at ptmollie.com, explains how exercise and spending time outdoors can help with motivation. She says: “Exercise is known to release endorphins, which causes the body to experience feelings of happiness. The hardest step at this time of year is getting out of bed or off the couch. Keep your goals simple by starting with a five minute walk rather than a two hour run or ask friends or family to meet you for a swim to hold you accountable.
“Exercise also releases stress and tension, which you might be feeling after returning to work post-Christmas. Fresh air is a lovely way to clear all of your senses and the sunshine will provide vitamin D. Another tip is to put your phone away so that you can appreciate your surroundings, experiencing nature has been shown to being a sense of calm, contentment and happiness. Try to incorporate at least one walk into your day, whether this is in the morning or on your lunch break.”
It’s important to make sure you’re getting enough rest, especially after such a busy period, to help you feel restored and ready to take on the day. Sleep experts at Room to Sleep comment: “Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for our mental and physical wellbeing. Sleep and health are strongly related; poor sleep, defined by short duration, broken or inconsistent sleep patterns, can increase the risk of poor health, making it harder to fall asleep.
“Try to relax by winding down and letting go of your concerns in the hour leading up to bedtime. If you often find it difficult to relax, have a bubble bath, practice mindfulness or read a book to help calm your mind.
“It’s always a good idea to optimise your sleeping environment by eliminating clutter, keeping technology out of the room and investing in a good quality, comfortable mattress. Avoiding stimulants throughout the day is also likely to increase your chances of better quality sleep.”
Waking up early on winter mornings makes it difficult to embrace natural light, however it is important to appreciate the sunlight when you can. Glenn Parkin, marketing manager at 247 Blinds says: “Take advantage at the weekend by waking up to natural light. Either leave a gap in your curtains or blinds at night or invest in some vertical day night blinds that ensure privacy whilst allowing light to flood in.”
For those struggling with the dark mornings, here are a few products that may help you to wake up a little easier:
Origin, Dark Brown - Day Night Blind
Price: From £41.20
Description: A stylish and versatile blind that ensure privacy whilst also allowing you to take advantage of the sunlight with its sliding horizontal strips of sheer material through a double layer of fabric.
Lumie Bodyclock Glow 150
Description: An alarm clock that mimics the light and colour or a real sunrise so when you open your eyes you feel properly awake and refreshed. Lumie Bodyclock Glow 150 features the option to adjust the sunrise and sunset duration to 20, 30 and 45 minutes; a choice of nine sleep/wake sounds.
Nokia Steel / Withings Steel
Description: The Nokia Steel Withings Watch monitors your sleep with detailed insights into sleep cycles. It also wakes you up at the best point in your sleep with a gentle silent, vibrating alarm.