Do You Dread Waking Up in the Morning?
Hey there. This is Bethanie Hansen, your coach at the Mindset for Life podcast. And I asked you this question today to start off the podcast. This is the topic we’re going to be talking about. And the question is, “Do you dread waking up in the morning?”
Now that might seem like a really strange question to be asking you. But I’m Bethanie Hansen, known as “Dr. B,” educator and coach. I help teachers, leaders, and coaches stop Sunday night dread and reclaim their power and purpose.
I’ve discovered that leaders, teachers and coaches care about the people they lead and the direction they’re headed. They care about their students, they care about their clients and their customers. Everybody wants to feel confident in their role and treat people with love and integrity, even when other people are very challenging to be with.
I’ve been an educator and a coach for 28 years. And in my experience, sometimes it is hard to get up in the morning because of what’s going to happen the next day. Somewhere in there, a sense of Sunday night dread creeps in. And we wish there might be a day off coming up.
At the same time, we even feel guilty for thinking it.
Well, what’s helped me the most have been some of the tools, strategies and thought patterns that I now share with clients through education and professional coaching.
These very same things helped me to wake up and to reduce my own stress levels, to improve my sense of overall well being, and to be able to move through tough challenges with greater purpose. Now, I don’t feel “that” way anymore.
Yesterday was a holiday. I got up, and I was so excited to be awake. I remember thinking, “I’ve got this whole, empty day. Nobody expects anything from me. I don’t have to go to work. I get to do those things that have been on my list for weeks and weeks.” I did some of those things. I cleaned the kitchen.
I did the dishes, I wiped down all the counters. It had been a mess for quite some time. Not a super clean kitchen. Went over to my mother’s house, planted some things. Cleaned up some pots in the backyard. Really, really enjoyed the day. It felt great, felt amazing, in fact. And then today, it was a day to go to work. I got to do some coaching this afternoon.
I was looking forward to getting up. But at the same time, I wasn’t. I remember waking up and laying in bed, and thinking, “Oh my goodness, do I have to get up this early? Why did I set my alarm for this hour?”
As I thought about it, I contemplated just like pushing the snooze button. I thought I might roll over and just go back to sleep. Then, I remembered my husband asking me politely a couple of days ago not to press the student snooze button over and over again while he was still sleeping. Because I’m just going to keep waking him up, right?
So as I’m thinking about staying in bed, I’m also thinking about how to be kind to my husband and thinking in the name of kindness to my husband, I’m going to be good to myself at the same time.
And I’m going to get out of bed quickly. I’m going to shower, and I’m going to put some energy behind it. I’m going to really try to wake up with vigor. And I’m going to get excited about this day.
That did not happen either. I got out of bed, I took the shower, I was still dragging. I just wasn’t feeling that great. Then, I realized it was a sunny, beautiful day. And I rekindled that energy by taking a walk outside. That did it.
That helped. I was energized. I was ready to go. I entered one of my meetings, one of my calls, and I was able to participate and get some work done. I was very excited about how the day started.
Do you ever have a day like that where you get up and you start thinking about all the ways you could sleep in, just turn over, cover your head, reset the alarm and sleep a little bit longer? In fact, sometimes we have a whole arsenal of stories behind that, like why we deserve it, how much we’re suffering.
All of those stories create more and more dread for waking up in the morning. So the more we indulge ourselves in how great it’s going to feel to stay in the bed, how warm it is under the covers, or how soft or how cushy, how nice when we finally got comfortable, get some really good sleep, all of those things that we might be reflecting on or telling ourselves, all those thoughts are creating a sense of dread too.
Now, the other idea I have about this feeling of dread comes from the difference between a vacation day and a work day. Isn’t it amazing how, if you have a vacation day, and you have all this time to yourself, and you actually have something you want to do, you can have all kinds of energy?
You might get up earlier than expected, because you’re so excited about the day. And at the same time, on a work day, you know, your calendar may be very full. Even if those are things that you might enjoy and you might be looking forward to, just the sheer volume of activities that you expect of yourself and others expect of you during that work day can feel overwhelming before the day even starts.
That alone can cultivate that sense of dread. And it can turn on your negative filter that starts to look at blessings, gifts and opportunities as burdens. And pretty soon, we’re looking at that day, and we create the drag we’re feeling. It’s like we’ve got the anchor dragging behind our virtual boat.
We’re trying to sail around the house, or the workplace, doing our thing. And that anchor is just hitting everything. And we’re feeling so down because we’re not bringing it.
So one thing you can do to reduce your dread about waking up in the morning is to make sure you go to bed early enough to give yourself a solid night’s sleep. That may sound like a pretty simple idea. I don’t know about you, but I tend to milk the evening hours, because that’s when I get my projects done.
I might even record my podcasts late in the evening, or do something I’d like to do on the computer, work on some digital photos, write in my journal, something like that, in the evening. If you save your best activities for late at night, then you really can’t give yourself a solid sense of sleeping, a really a good foundation for thinking and feeling the next day.
If you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you’re really not going to feel good in the morning. Let’s flip that into the positive.
Now. If you set yourself up with a solid night’s sleep, give yourself plenty of time to really rejuvenate your muscles, your body to really get into a deep sleep, you will feel so invigorated and refreshed afterwards compared to the night before.
How early do you need to go to bed for you to feel great in the morning?
Well, each of us is a little bit different there. It’s hard for me to say this, but I really do need eight hours of sleep. There were some times in my life where I was achieving a lot. I was raising my kids, I was going to school for my doctoral degree. And all of those things really took more time than I did have in the day. So I might get less than six hours of sleep at night. And that did take a toll on me.
But that time has passed. And now it’s time to really focus on well being and getting a good night’s sleep. So the number one reason we dread waking up in the morning is that we are physically exhausted. That’s the number one reason. If we can give ourselves enough sleep, really set up the environment that we’re going to sleep in to be dark enough, quiet enough, cool enough or warm enough, whatever works for you, have enough blankets, have enough comfort, get yourself ready to go.
And then also set yourself up so that if you start to wake up in the middle of the night, you write those ideas down that are flowing through your mind and go right back to sleep. I have coached a lot of upper-level leaders, vice presidents, and corporate executives who wake up at three o’clock in the morning with an idea-filled brain, tons of ideas on their minds.
Often it’s in the form of worries, things to do, stuff they didn’t take care of the day before, things they’re worried that they need to get done tomorrow. And whatever’s happening to you, if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night, I always recommend have a little notebook next to your bed. Flip on a very dim light, write down the ideas, turn it off and go back to bed.
It’s a little bit like the experience I had when my first child was born. He was a few weeks premature so he was born three weeks early. And he wanted to eat all the time. So he would eat and sleep at the same time, and then at nighttime when you should be sleeping, he’d be awake. And he would want to eat all night long, too. About three months into this pattern, I was just so exhausted and I went to the pediatrician, and I said, you know, this child’s never sleeping. He sleeps, eats, and then he’s awake the rest of the time. What do we do?
And the pediatrician said, you have to rock him back to sleep and stop feeding him in the middle of the night. The reason he’s waking up in the middle of the night for food is that you’re feeding him. But at three months old, he is now sound enough, he’s strong enough, he doesn’t need you to feed him in the middle of the night, so you can stop doing it.
Okay, if you’ve ever parented a child and tried to stop feeding them in the middle of the night, you know that this is a painful experience. Because they will scream and cry, because you’re not feeding them. And they’re used to getting fed. But after a few nights of this, they get used to it, and they learn that nighttime is the time to sleep.
And pretty soon, they start sleeping in the night. Or if they do wake up, they’re not asking for food, they’re expecting to be comforted and go right back to sleep. That did work.
It was an awesome method. It was sort of a behaviorist approach. And I’ll admit, I was terrified that it was cruel and unusual punishment for this little baby. But it did work. So thanks to that pediatrician, I regained my sanity. And you can too.
So when your brain wakes you up at 3am, it’s probably not asking for food, it’s probably asking to get up and go to the bathroom. But the other thing that starts to happen is your ideas that were unresolved from the day before start flooding in, you start to develop all kinds of worries, thoughts, anxieties, ideas about things you could do. Your brain turns on at 3am.
So if you let it wake you fully up and entertain you, then it’s going to keep you up all night. But if you redirect it, and let it know that you’re the boss, you can put it back to bed and get the rest of your sleep done.
Pretty soon, it’s going to stop happening. So keep that notebook next to your bed. Write down the ideas quickly. Put your brain back to sleep. Yeah, you’re gonna lay there a few nights, many nights, thinking after that happens. And the first few nights, you’re gonna think that I’m wrong.
You’re gonna think this doesn’t work. But if you keep doing it consistently, it’s going to work, and it’s going to work very well.
The second thing you can do to reduce your dread in the morning and start getting excited about having a powerful and purpose-filled morning is to think about the things that you would like to do the next day. And to do those things first.
Here are some examples I want to share just from my list. I like to read scriptures. I care about reading my scriptures, and I always have something I would like to read the next day.
If I don’t read it first thing in the morning, it’s just not going to happen. I’ll think I’m going to read the scriptures at lunchtime. Or I might think I’m going to read the scriptures after work. Or maybe I’m going to sit down in the evening and find a quiet space and read scriptures. But the truth is, if I care about it, I’m going to do it first thing in the morning or it’s not going to happen.
I want to suggest to you whatever you personally care about getting done tomorrow, do it first thing. Don’t put yourself last. Don’t do your favorite thing last in the day, don’t do it after work, later. Find a way to put it in the morning in the beginning of the day.
If you’ve done that thing that matters most to you, the rest of the day is a breeze. And you’re actually going to wake up excited to do that one thing you care about. If it’s exercise, put your exercise clothes on the bathroom counter so that when you wake up, you see them. You put them on, and you do that exercise.
Even if you didn’t leave yourself a lot of time, and all you can do is five or 10 minutes, start the habit and do it every day. Pretty soon, you’re waking up believing in yourself. You’re waking up loving yourself instead of doubting yourself.
You’re waking up excited to get up in the morning because you have a habit you’re trying to form. You’re doing something that matters to you. You’re starting to reclaim your power. And there’s a lot of purpose in doing that.
So when you feel Sunday night dread or dread about waking up in the morning, I want to encourage you to reclaim your cares, your values, your goals, your gifts and talents, those things you want to be and do. Start feeling confident about the direction you’re headed. And think about it first thing when you wake up in the morning.
I have helped hundreds of leaders and teachers and coaches handle their challenging relationships, their priority conflicts, and be more productive, gain control over their work-life balance, and stop doubting their own abilities. We’ve tackled imposter syndrome–that sort of that feeling where you don’t really know what you’re doing, even though you have a role and experience and plenty of qualifications.
When your brain tempts you to start worrying about all that in the middle of the night, just redirect it and write it down and go back to sleep. And you’ll be able to get through this very difficult time and start adopting new tools, strategies and thought patterns that will help you to wake up, to reduce your stress levels, improve your well being, and move through these challenges with a lot more purpose.
We’ve also been able to help people love, serve, and teach others, and coach others and lead others more. Without feeling overwhelmed and exhausted or putting themselves last.
We can do the same for you. You don’t have to be the last person on your list anymore. I believe all of this is possible for you, even if you yourself cannot see it right now. You can reclaim your power to set goals, to wake up cheerful, hopeful, looking forward to the day ahead, and let go of that dread you might be feeling.
You can define your boundaries, and have really positive, loving relationships. You might even be able to let go of some relationships that are draining you and hurting you right now.
And you can really love who you are, and your life, and build on your purpose to make a difference every day. And I want to show you how to do this using your strengths and your gifts, your talents, your abilities, because those are uniquely part of who you are. Part of why you’re here on this planet, and part of what the world needs from you today. I want to help you with practical tools to lead with confidence and well being.
And I just want to remind you, as we close up today, it is not selfish to invest this time in your own growth. In fact, now’s the time, it’s essential.
So let’s get started. Here’s to being the best version of you this coming week. And I hope you’ll come back next time for the Mindset for Life podcast. Take care of you!
This episode’s theme song is “Sunshine Club,” by Ishan Dincer. Used with Permission.
Like what you read here? In this podcast, I’m sharing some core principles I’ve learned in coaching that have completely changed my life. These ideas restore personal power and bring the confidence to grow our unique traits, strengths, and attributes, to live with purpose and joy as we make each day a little better. And when we do that, we’re putting good into the world. Right here, you have the tools to take one small step. And with a personal coach, you can take it deeper, to make these changes a lasting part of your life. You can live your true purpose with joy, every day.