The persistent demands of early morning self-care: what to do?

10 things to do first thing in the morning

I used to hate challenges; you know, those 7-day/30-day-read-a-book-a-day-type challenges. I’ve written here about my problems with them. But in the past couple of years I’ve found some ways they work for me. The 220 workouts in 2020 group has taught me a lot about how to use the experience of being in a challenge to examine, motivate, question and reshape how I do physical activity. A bunch of our bloggers are in this or similar groups and have written about challenges (most recently Martha’s post here).

My friend the New York Times has talked me into trying yet another challenge– their new new 30 Day Healthy Habits Challenge. It’s a combo of advice bits about movement, eating, social connection and mindfulness. (CW: it also suggests a form of dieting that may trigger some with a history of eating disorders, so do be warned).

One thing that keeps tripping me up with this challenge (and other such general self-care advice) is this: I’m supposed to do a whole bunch of things, many of them FIRST THING IN THE MORNING.

Challenges are big on doing things in the early morning. It appears that, upon waking (or in my case, being lurched into consciousness by my loud alarm), I’m supposed to

First of all, I am not a morning person. This is not me:

Drawing of person doing impossible yoga position while smiling in bed.

I’m more like this:

Silly but true-to-life meme of animal in bed, with words “when your alarm goes off and you’re deciding whether to go to work or fake your own death”

But seriously folks: self-care regimens are very heavy on first-thing-in-the-morning activity. But even for those who ARE morning people, there’s a limit to the amount of time we can devote to early-morning self-care. For one thing, there’s a limited amount of early-morning time, and we all have to get a lot done before heading to work, school, and other important things we do during our busy days. For another, we have other priorities– like writing or reading or housework or other important tasks that have to be done sometime as well.

So I’m asking you, dear readers: how do you decide what to prioritize in that precious period (whenever it is), first thing in your morning? I’d love to hear from you,

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