Weirdly enough, these days I’m becoming a better morning person. This doesn’t mean I ever kicked my ‘night owl’ habits – I still stay up really late at night – however I seem to be able to wake up early and not be as grumpy, or struggle to drag myself out of bed. I rarely get more than 6 hours sleep a night, however it’s falling to sleep before midnight that I really need to work on. So when I got approached to join in the #EarlyBirdChallenge with Free Office Finder, I was intrigued to give it a go and really try to embrace and understand the benefits of waking up earlier, ideally to lead to a more healthy, happier and productive ‘me’.
So last week, I teamed up with Free Office Finder to set myself the goal of waking up extra early for a whole week and finding out how I can seize the day. We face 250,000 mornings on average throughout our adult lives, so the question is – what do we do with them? Recent studies by The Daily Mail and The Telegraph showed that 34% of people constantly feel rushed and a whopping 61% claim to have no free time at all. A third of adults claim to have less than an hour to themselves after work, and many mothers have a mere 17 minutes a day to call their own. So on a work day, I set my alarm for 6am, took a shower and got ready for the day, before walking down to the Northern Quarter in Manchester and heading to Tea 4 2 on High Street, Manchester.
Waking up early and seizing the early hours can be hugely beneficial in many ways. By adjusting your sleeping pattern it can change your mindset and health, as waking up early can also encourage you to eat a proper breakfast which is essential for controlling obesity (as we all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day!). It also fuels you up so you can face the day with more energy. I normally rush in the mornings with a bowl of cereal, so I wanted to give myself a good 45 minutes sit down in a cafe, reading a newspaper so I could take in the world’s news instead of half-heartedly hearing it on the radio whilst getting ready, and eat a proper breakfast that would provide me nutrition yet kick start my day.
Tea 4 2 is more of a Manchester Afternoon Tea place to visit, however it’s on my route to work and serves breakfasts and brunches, therefore I opted for a breakfast of Eggs Benedict with mushroom and spinach for my extremely early morning. The eggs came poached on an English muffin, with huge flat cap mushrooms and layers of spinach, along with a little jug of hollandaise sauce. I had a green tea instead of coffee, which was a detox version to really clean your system and speed up your metabolism. It was probably the most enjoyable green tea I have tasted! The nicest thing was just having that 45 minutes of time to myself, where I wasn’t hunched over my laptop trying to cram in some blogging before work or reply to any emails, or balancing my cereal bowl on my bed whilst I try and ‘come round’ in the morning and mess with my phone and social media channels.
Just being able to catch up on the latest news, and properly eat a breakfast which contained eggs for protein and spinach for iron just felt really good and a real nice treat. I felt calmer, my thoughts were more collected, and by the time I got to work after my breakfast I felt much more alive and raring to go. In general, Tea 4 2 is a pretty little cafe with a good selection of different Eggs Benedict variations. If something lighter was required, they have a tempting granola and yoghurt option as well as heart warming porridge which sounds great for the winter mornings.
The one bad thing was the option of cakes everywhere! Huge, amazing sweet treats are propped up all around the place… talk about horrendous temptation…
Being a huge tea fan, the best thing about this place was the extensive list of specialty teas, with options featuring everything from cinnamon tea’s to black vanilla! I do tend to stick to green or camomile as ‘usual’s’ but there were so many on this list that it’s encouraged me to try and pop in here in the mornings on my way to work and go through this menu to experience every type of incredible tea. If it’s not an option to always sit and eat every morning, it would be nice just to give myself an extra 20 minutes to sit down with a unique tasting tea. Even if that means just waking up half an hour earlier and setting off to work those extra 30 minutes in advance.
Along with ensuring that I could get the best start to my day by eating a proper breakfast and having the time to relax and catch up with my thoughts, there’s also another incentive to rising much earlier. A slightly more difficult one… and that’s to give myself time for exercise! Exercising early in the morning helps reduce stress, energises us for the rest of the day, and the fresh oxygen encourages cell renewal, purifies blood and cures aches and pains. Sometimes, working late or making plans for after work get in the way of giving ourselves time for exercise, therefore setting that time aside in the morning before you begin your day is really crucial. It sounds like hard work – and don’t get me wrong, walking down to Pure Gym in Manchester at 6:55am was a killer- but when I arrived and gave myself a quick 20 minute power walk on the treadmill before working on a 10 minute weight session, I already felt filled with so much energy, with a bright and alert outlook to the day already!
If you need a little more motivation once at the gym to actually kick-start a workout, then gyms offer early morning exercise and work-out classes that are really popular, and start from 6am. At my gym, they have classes such as Pure Cycle, Pure Pump and Pure Journey all before 8am, meaning whatever exercise you wish to indulge in, there is usually a class for every type of workout.
I found that by the end of the week, I looked back and saw a productive week was had. I felt like I had gave myself ‘me’ time and felt better in general that I had been treating myself to the previous time, and also to exercise. I didn’t feel guilty like I usually do that I couldn’t fit in the gym, and I felt healthier and slightly more happier although that sounds quite extreme! It is difficult for me to keep this up as I often work quite late during the evenings and fall asleep pretty late, so the earlier I rise, I’m cutting out precious beauty sleep time. But the problem there is that I need to learn to fall to sleep earlier, so that’s something to work on!
If you want to give it a go yourself and reap the benefits, take a look here on the Free Office Finder blog for full information and how to take part, the benefits, ideas and a whole lot more! Take a look at the hashtag on social media too – #EarlyBirdChallenge – to see what everyone else has been doing with the early mornings they have been creating…