Growing up a bookworm, reading has been my favorite form of entertainment. I revel in diving head first into a good story, leaving the fast-paced real world behind me. Reading takes me to places I’ve never been before, which is why it’s more than just a hobby to me. I get to explore strange yet beautiful realms without getting on a plane. That for me was pure magic.

Back when I was still a student, I remember thumbing through a book in an hour, either during lunch break at school or an entire Saturday afternoon. Now that I work full-time, finding opportunities to squeeze in a bit of reading has become a challenge. I’ve tried devouring a novel each night before hitting the sack, but then always ended up falling asleep after one chapter. Weekends are great for reading too, but they’re often spent bonding with my family.

Realizing that I haven’t read much in a while, I seriously thought of a way to include reading in my daily routine. Soon, the perfect solution popped into my mind. And that is to read for an hour every morning before work. It’s brilliant since I arrive in the office as early as 7:15 a.m. Plus, coming from a stressful morning commute, reading is the best activity to calm myself down. There in the deafening stillness of the coffee-scented office pantry, I settle into a spot by the window and get lost in a book.

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Reading in the early hours of the day truly has wonderful benefits. Below are the things that happened to me when I made it into a habit:

1. I didn’t have difficulty waking up early.

Having something to look forward to the next day really helps one to wake up early. In my case, it’s knowing what happens next in my current read. Aside from the loud beep of my alarm, questions like “Will [insert name of female protagonist] and [insert name of male love interest] get together?” and “What will happen to [insert name of adorable sidekick] after that plot twist on Chapter 20?” would jolt me awake at 4:30 a.m. Thanks to curiosity and excitement, I don’t hit the snooze button for an additional ten minutes in bed! If you want to experience this kind of rush, I recommend choosing a sweet rom-com or a gripping fantasy that will give you all the feels.

Book recommendations: Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae, I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, Splintered by A.G. Howard

2. My writing improved.

With my job as digital content creator, words are life. Producing content is a lot of brain work and it can be stressful especially when you’re running low on energy or when zero ideas come to you. But when I developed the habit of reading every morning, I noticed that the dreadful creative block rarely tortures me anymore. Whether I’m writing a simple email or a creative copy, I found myself stitching thoughts into coherent sentences with ease. Exposure to different writing styles helped me craft pieces that flow smoothly, as well as determine the rhythm that best matches the mood of my work.

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3. My vocabulary expanded.

As a writer, I’m constantly captivated by words I read in books, especially those that I encounter the first time or don’t normally use. When I come across those, I jot them down on a notebook or on my phone’s Notes app. Then, I search for their meaning in the dictionary and study how I can use them in future copies.

4. I got lower stress levels.

When I read, my attention is only on the story I’m immersed in, so things that worry and stress me out all melt away. Compared to the days prior to my morning reading ritual, I observed that my heart now throbs at a steady cadence and my breathing is normal. Whenever there are tasks needed to be accomplished immediately, I no longer feel that I’m catching my breath or that my heart’s going to jump out of my chest. Also, instead of panicking, I would think positive thoughts to maintain a tranquil state of mind.

Reading in the morning requires total commitment. It’s hard in the beginning, but you’ll get used to it! It’s such a meaningful thing to do instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media. Do this for yourselves, ladies! Believe me, your mornings will be amazing.

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