Healthista editor Anna Magee explains how she became a morning person and takes to Hal Elrod author of The Miracle Morning: The 6 Habits That Will Transform Your Life Before 8AM about how you can too
‘Anna get up, you’re wasting the day,’ said my dad. It’s was 6.30am and having woken to go to the loo, I was standing at the top of the stairs while he was at the bottom, clutching a cup of black of coffee, his fourth of the day. He’d been up since 4.30am. That was nine years ago and my always early-rising, high-achieving dad was over from Australia (where I was born), helping us with some renovations. Since he’d woken up, he’d put up two shelves, done some emails and read the paper. I meanwhile, barely managed to pee before going back to bed then battling my snooze button at 8am.
Since then, through necessity mostly, I’ve become a morning person, slowly training myself to need less sleep by clawing back my wake-up time by half an hour every few months. For the last five years, I’ve been waking up at 4.30am and the difference it’s made to my life, my health and my productivity is nothing short of a miracle. That sounds evangelical because it is. Ask any early riser and you’ll get a similarly annoying-to-the-uninitiated degree of enthusiasm about the benefits of their morning routine. Over-achieving early risers include Barack Obama, Gwyneth Paltrow and US Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
Now, a new book The Miracle Morning (Hodder £9.99) by former depressive turned early riser Hal Elrod claims even the most committed night owl can become a lark by following six simple habits.
‘For the last five years, I’ve been waking up at 4.30am and the difference it’s made to my life, my health and my productivity is nothing short of a miracle.’
Seven years ago, in the midst of a deep depression and heavily in debt, a friend suggested Elrod start running in the mornings. He felt better almost instantly and began wanting more out of his mornings, ’I Googled what successful people do in the mornings and collected a list of the six most common practices,’ he remembers. ‘Jim Carrey does affirmations, Will Smith does visualization so instead of doing just one, I tried doing them all for ten minutes a day before work.’ Within six weeks, Elrod’s depression had lifted. Since then, he’s formally identified six morning practices that make up a ‘Miracle Morning’ programme and packaged them into an acronym; SAVERS. Silence or meditation, Affirmation, that’s telling yourself positive things, Visualization, seeing positive things in your mind, Exercise, Reading inspirational material such as biographies and Scribing in a journal or diary. Each one, done for ten minutes daily back to back upon waking, Elrod says can transform any old bog-standard human into a level-headed productivity machine. All just by getting up one hour earlier.
‘SAVERS: Silence, Affirmation, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing.’
It sounds like tiddlywop but since the book was launched in the US in 2012 it’s remained in the top 100 Amazon self-help bestsellers and has over 100,000 followers globally (many of them brutally devoted on social media) including CEOs, business leaders and film directors. ‘Going through SAVERS each morning is like pumping rocket fuel into my body, mind and spirit,’ said Robert Kiyosaki, bestselling author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
Like Elrod, I too was depressed when I started waking up early following that morning on the stairs with my dad. Awfully unhappy in a magazine job going nowhere, I started exercising in the mornings, more as self-medication by endorphin than through any grand plan. I too felt better quickly and began slowly spending more time awake before 8am, getting ahead on work or email. I got more done, felt stronger and more able to handle my professional environment and feeling more confident, eventually got the guts to leave my job and work for myself. I’ve since launched a web business, bought and renovated another property and written three books. Now, I wake up, do some yoga, write and meditate before walking to work to be at my desk by 7.30am for a head start on tough projects before the phone starts ringing. I sleep about 5-7 hours a night. On days that leaves me a bit tired I’ll just have an extra up of tea. My mornings give me the one thing that any day post-10am can’t – time that’s mine. I’m not trading that in for a lie-in.
The Miracle Morning: The 6 Habits That Will Transform Your Life Before 8AM £9.99 by Hal Elrod is out now