How I Stopped Feeling Crap In The Mornings

Man Feeling Crap

Last week I learnt a new trick. Or, to be more accurate, I remembered an old trick. It can be so easy to just get on with life, without thinking too much about every little thing, that good habits sometimes fall by the wayside. Good intentions, patterns and routines can sometimes get lost. That’s exactly what happened with me.

This probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but it turns out that having a baby is a game changer. Patterns and routines from before B-Day are increasingly difficult to stick with as the sole purpose of existence shifts, in a single moment, to caring and providing for this tiny, beautiful, helpless little lump. The late nights and interrupted sleep have begun to take their toll, and I find myself feeling crap much more often than before.

It became something of a competition between my wife and I – who had the worst night’s sleep? I tend to do the late shift and so use that as evidence to support my claim for the title. But, it’s quite difficult to compare my tales with those of the early morning shift which my wife takes. After all, the only person awake for both is the littl’un, and she hasn’t quite got the hang of talking about it.

So, what do we do? In the quest for quantitative evidence, I downloaded an app for my phone which measures and tracks the length and quality of my sleep. Every night I slept with this thing under my pillow, and every morning I’d check my chart to see just how bad it had been. Despite gathering this irrefutable evidence, apparently my claim for the “most tired” crown was still questionable.

There was something that did change as a result of using the app though. I went from feeling a bit tired, but still having plenty of energy for the day, to feeling absolutely knackered. Coincidence? Perhaps, but probably not.

After speaking with a friend about it, they reminded me of something I’ve known for ages but somehow forgotten along the way. It’s a simple little rule which has proven its truthfulness time and time again: You get what you focus on.

Riding a boke

It’s just like riding a bike or driving a car. When you turn your head to follow something as you drive past, your hands tend to follow in the same direction. Our brains and bodies are wired to seek out the things we’re looking at and looking for. We get what we focus on.

Here I was, starting my day looking at how little sleep I’d had and how tired I must be. Funnily enough, my brain and body didn’t have to look very hard to seek out information to support that claim. I convinced myself that I must be really tired and so, of course, I felt it.

The day I was reminded of that phrase “you get what you focus on” was the last day I used my sleep tracking app. It’s now been removed from my phone completely. I now begin my day looking forward to what’s coming, rather than looking back to the night before and setting myself up for a long, slow and exhausting day.

I certainly can’t claim that I don’t ever feel tired any more. I still have a ten week old baby and she sometimes likes to ration my sleep. However, I feel much better now for focussing on the things I am looking forward to in a day rather than obsessing about how exhausted I am as soon as I wake up. I definitely feel less tired as a result too.

It’s all about setting myself up for experiencing and achieving what I want. Strangely enough, this principle doesn’t apply only to sleep.

What are you setting yourself up for?

images: civellod, kalexanderson

4 Comment(s)

  1. Kathi

    December 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Great point of view Chris! I love inspirational quotes and mottos but I have two I’ve lived by for most of my life: Attitude is Everything, and Every Moment Matters — I’m an astrologer so that second one does double duty. Those two little phrases changed my life many ago and I still repeat them every day. It makes a huge difference. We can’t control what happens to us — but we sure can change how we react to it. Congrats on being a new dad :)

  2. December 19, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Thanks Kathi – I couldn’t agree more. In every moment we’re faced with choices on how to react and respond to the world around us. The only person responsible for my reaction is me, and I can’t blame anybody else for the choices I make.

    That attitude gives much more freedom than any alternative and makes so much more possible.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Marc

    July 18, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I used that same sleep cycle app and found the exact same thing, i was too focused on how much sleep i wasnt getting. The main cause was small children and working waaay too many hours (freelance, working from home) often until 2am. I think once you have a new baby you never fall into a deep sleep as you are always on high alert for every gargle and snuffle they make. It does get easier once they sleep through (although mine didnt for 2 years). It’s all worth it in the end. Not a very philosophical comment I know.

    • July 18, 2013 at 10:46 am

      Yeah you’re right. Whoever came up with the expression “sleeps like a baby” clearly hasn’t actually watch one sleep. Gargles, snuffles galore and they wake up all the time! Ours is pretty much sleeping through now – I don’t really remember what it was like to have so little sleep just a few months ago.

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