When sun’s streaming in through the window, birds merrily tweeting in the trees, leaping out of bed in the morning is easy.
But come winter, when it’s dark, gloomy - and probably blowing a gale and drizzly too - it’s little wonder many of us find getting up more difficult.
In fact, more than half of us (59%) admit getting up during winter is a ‘struggle’, according to research by Twinings English Breakfast tea, with Monday mornings the hardest (well, obviously!).
On average, we hit the snooze button once, giving ourselves an extra 9.36 minutes in bed (however, 2% confess to snoozing for more than 45 minutes each day!), and 18-24-year-olds grapple most with mornings, with 51% struggling to get up, compared to 17% of over-55s. Women also fare slightly worse than men, blaming the cold weather and darkness for making getting up a chore.
We might not be a nation of winter morning people, but it seems, on the whole, we’re a resourceful bunch too, with many agreeing they use ‘morning motivation’ tools to help make the transition from bed to up a little easier. Perhaps unsurprisingly for us Brits, a ‘nice hot cup of tea’ was the most popular tactic for starting the day, while at the other end of the scale, a mere 7% enticed themselves out of bed with a workout session.
“The way you start your day can make a big difference to the way you feel all day,” says psychotherapist Robert Stewart, who analysed the Twinings research. “So ensure you start it right, make sure you add a touch of adventure to your normal routine. Even things which may seem like an insignificant change can make a big difference.”
So what little changes could you make? Here are some of Stewart’s top tips, plus some of our own, to give you that extra ‘morning motivation’ boost...
:: Sort out your sleep
If you want getting up to feel easier, a good night’s sleep is essential. Yep, talk about stating the obvious, right? But let’s be honest, many of us are guilty of not prioritising good sleep, or keeping up bad habits that we know aren’t helping - like using our smartphones/iPads before bed. If you struggle to get up because you’re not getting enough sleep, are there things you can do to address that?
:: Breakfast like a king
“Where we have less exposure to the sun, we lack vitamin D and this affects the production of serotonin, one of our happy hormones. A good breakfast, rich in protein, carbohydrates and vitamins, will give your body and brain a good boost,” says Stewart. It might mean you have to get up a little earlier to make the time, but being a breakfast person will pay off in countless ways - as well as helping you establish a positive, productive morning routine, studies show that people who always eat a decent breakfast are less likely to be overweight and tend to be healthier.
Start with a mindful activity
Mindfulness meditation is growing in popularity all the time, helping us manage stress, depression, anxiety and find greater focus. If you don’t fancy sitting still to meditate, find other ways to connect with the moment and start the day with a sense of clarity and calm. “Whether it’s doing some stretching or having a cup of tea, learn to take a few minutes to savour a moment, and be in that moment as much as possible,” says Stewart. “Mindful activities have shows to promote oxytocin and serotonin release, which will set up our mood for the day.”
Winter’s lack of daylight affects most of us to some degree, but for some people, the extra darkness is a real problem. If this is you, could investing in an illuminating alarm clock - which gradually lights up the room, mimicking a summer’s morning - help?
All in the prep
If mornings are usually a lot of flap and chaos - hunting high and low for things you need, madly pulling clothes out of your wardrobe, berating yourself for being late again as you dash out the door (the coffee you just made still sitting on the side in the kitchen) - well, of course it’s not your favourite time of day. How about spending a few minutes the night before getting organised: get your outfit ready, pack your bag? I know; groundbreaking! (Now if only I could follow my own advice...!)
Make showering a joy
Yes, washing fulfils a function. But they say happiness is all about the little things, and your morning shower is an easy way to turn an everyday task into a real pleasure. I’m not saying spend ages in there using up loads of hot water, but why not invest in a shower gel you love, with a scent that perks up the senses and leaves your skin feeling gorgeous?
Transform your commute
Dread your commute? Late and overcrowded trains; traffic jams and impatient road-users - what is there to like about commuting? There’s no magic wand that’s going to transform those things, but we can transform our attitudes, and how we use this time. If you commute by train, it’s the perfect time to lose yourself in a good book. Drive or walk - how about listening to music or a podcast? Retrain your brain to see this part of the day as a meaningful and rewarding window. You never know, you might even start looking forward to it. (And if you don’t commute, you could still start the day with an activity like this).