The art of waking up early

Early rising: the quiet morning hours can be an enriching time for focusing on yourself.

Waking up at 5am without a strict deadline seems a little twisted. Who wouldn’t relish an extra hour of sleep in a world where most of us struggle to make that magic eight-hour quota?

But when you cast aside the idea that waking up early means cramming more activity into your already busy life, the possibilities of a quiet, mindful morning become alluring. Those pre-dawn hours could be a time just for you, to get in touch with yourself and do something that enriches your life. Leaving the housework and temptations of Facebook and Twitter for when the real day begins, slip out of bed to spend an hour or two reading, watching the sun rise with a thermos of hot coffee or taking an early-morning photography walk.

Determined to see what the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Benjamin Franklin found so enlightening in the early hours, Medibank member Renee decided to give it a go, getting up at 5am with the sole purpose of focusing in herself. Here’s what she learned from her week of extra-early wake-ups.

Monday is for music indulgence 

Discovering new music that speaks to you takes time, not something I ever make enough for. Bleary eyed as I first sat at my computer just after 5 on a Monday morning, mug of tea in hand, I spent the next hour and a half on a journey from French psyche-punk rock to Debussy’s Suite bergamasque, dipping into a little indie-folk along the way. Trawling festival line-ups and local pub acts for inspiration, it was an aural awakening, albeit a slow one, and a pretty delicious way to do away with any hints of Mondayitis.

Tuesday is for a 6am café visit

There’s a whole host of CBD cafes in Sydney opening their doors to caffeine-craving early risers from 6am. I first stumbled across a list online, but never imagined I’d be up early enough to use it. Yet here I found myself, showered and dressed and pushing open the door just after 6am on a Tuesday.

It’s subdued; there’s a murmur of chatter as baristas spend time with their customers, people are reading papers, flicking through books and easing gently into their day. I sit down and do the same.

Wednesday is for stretching

After two days at the desk, the limbs are starting to feel it so this morning I started the day stretching. Way easier said than done – at 5.15am everything’s pretty stiff, so I warmed up with slow rotations of the neck, wrists and ankles and breathing through a gentle yoga flow, before settling into deeper stretches. Over 90 minutes, it’s much more than just stretching; it became a time for reflecting, taking deep breaths and treating your body with care. After a hot shower, I left the house feeling relaxed yet tingling with energy.

Thursday is for cooking

I love cooking but resent the time it takes to cook anything complex in the evening. This morning I made a luscious sauce that took just under two hours, including preparing and chopping everything with care. It was indulgent cooking at its best, and while everything was simmering I had a sit down breakfast and got a few things together for a work lunch. The best part? The apartment smelled divine and the evening was cooking-free.

Friday is for writing

I’m approaching my 30th birthday and find myself wondering where the last decade has gone. This morning I did something I’ve been meaning to do for ages – I began to reflect on everything that’s happened in the first 30 years of my life. From inspiring travel, to different friendship groups, uni chapters, work places, various homes, getting married, big clothes purchases and hairstyles, there was so much to tap into and it was such a treat to begin stitching together these memories over the journey. We do so many things in our lives, yet often don’t allow ourselves enough airtime to really appreciate how they’ve helped to shape us.

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