We’re all guilty of it. We wake up, roll over to turn off our alarms and start scrolling. And just like that, the precious hours of the early morning are gone, never to be experienced again. This has become second nature to our generation which is chronically online.
Even though I have always considered myself a morning person, I couldn’t beat this hard habit of looking at TikTok with my coffee. Until two summers ago, when I decided to integrate a new habit: reading right when I wake up.
Growing up, I was always the kid with the book. Finished a test but waiting for class to let out? Let me pull out my book. A quick ten minute drive to the restaurant with my family? Don’t worry I have a book to keep me company. A forced family outing to a baseball game? You can’t make me enjoy sports when I have a paperback on hand! However, as life became busy, my favorite hobby fell to the back burner. Reading outside of class was an activity I only really reached for when I felt that I had the time. I never stopped loving books, but I stopped making the time for them.
As a Type A person who is the most efficient in the first hours of the day, I decided to take responsibility for my time and hobbies and make a change in the morning. Instead of grabbing my phone the instant I woke up, I began reaching for my current read instead. To really stand by my new routine, I began to leave my phone in a separate room and march downstairs to crack open the spine.
It wasn’t easy at first. When you are groggy, your eyes still adjusting to the bright morning light, it isn’t easy to process words, especially when you are like me and often reach for classic literature for pleasure. The sentences go by slower when you only rolled out of bed ten minutes ago, but eventually, over time, this task began to feel less like a chore and slipped more into a manageable routine. Even if it was only a chapter before heading off to work, I began to feel proud when I would spend intentional time off my phone. Moreover, I began to feel accomplished at the start of my day.
I find that habits in the morning have a stronger impact than those at night. When I used to read before going to bed, I would find a million excuses for why I couldn’t read. These excuses ranged from “I’m too sleepy so I won’t remember what I read anyways” to “I’ll just check the texts I missed throughout the day” and so many more. The excuses for not doing something are endless, but so are the benefits of sticking to a routine that makes you a better person, or in my case, a re-dedicated reader.
The best mornings were the ones where I didn’t have work to rush off to. Hours would fly by before I checked my phone for the first time. Instead, I would accomplish 200 pages of lovely literature. On a particularly slow day, I would find myself finishing short novels in one sitting! I felt on fire, I felt productive, but more importantly, I was rekindling a vital characteristic of my identity.
It’s been two summers since I began this routine, and I am by no means perfect. There are countless mornings that I spend scrolling on TikTok instead of reading. There are days and sometimes even weeks when I barely read a page. However, when this happens, I have to give myself grace. This routine is not meant to be a strict adherence, it’s simply an acknowledgement that there is a habit I want to change in order to enhance my life.
When we begin our days on our phones, we immediately open ourselves up to online influences, which for many, myself included, can be a source of anxiety and insecurity. However, when we start our days without a phone in sight, we begin the day focusing on ourselves and where we are on that particular morning. On mornings when I do choose and remember to read, I remind myself that I have the power to choose how I start my day, which can often influence how my day will go.
Whether you are a lifelong reader like me, someone who only reads on vacation or someone who is just itching for a hobby that will get you offline, I highly recommend starting your day with a book instead of your phone. Or, if you are not the reading type, I recommend finding a hobby that takes you off your phone regardless. Maybe it’s knitting, journaling or going on a walk. Start slow, have patience and I promise, you will completely forget about those mornings you spent with a screen inches from your face. A hobby that disconnects you from the online world in the morning may end up making a bigger impact on your day, your life and your mental health.