If you’ve been struggling with getting out of bed in the morning, not feeling a sense of purpose or connectedness to yourself and how you want to be, or maybe feel like you're stuck in a rut, then taking a look at how you start your day could be the key to changing this.
I reckon you probably have some kind of routine that you do every morning. This routine will vary depending on your family situation, the type of work you do, and your general lifestyle habits. Whatever your morning routine is, the latest science indicates that what you do in the morning will either be a help or hinderance to how you feel and progress throughout the day.
The strategies I’ve outlined below have helped me to develop a more positive mindset and deal with those days where it can be a real struggle to just show up. So here we go!
Gratitude. Yes! It’s the buzz word of the century, but waking up with some level of gratitude for being alive will give you an amazing boost and help you deal with negative thoughts. If you are feeling grateful, then there is less chance you are going to feel negative about other things in your life. Practicing gratitude is easy too. I like to lie in bed for a couple of minutes before I get up, take a few deep breaths and give thanks for some of the things in my life. It could be as basic as being grateful for a warm bed, fuzzy slippers to put on your feet, warm clothes to wear, or the opportunity to give a friend or family member a hug. The list is potentially endless. I challenge you to think of three things every morning when you wake up. And don’t feel you have to stop there! You can keep expressing gratitude throughout your day too. Give it a try and see what happens.
Hygiene. This kind of goes without saying. A good personal hygiene routine is important to freshen up after sleeping. You may have a shower or you may just splash cold water on your face. Either way, during this practice, take the time to stop and look at yourself in the mirror. This is your cue to smile and say something positive to yourself. Yes! Talking positively to yourself is a great way to boost how you feel and this is something you can do several times a day – basically any time you look in a mirror. Forcing yourself to smile might sound like torture, but trust me, it gets easier the more you practice it. And the more you practice it, the better it feels. Pairing this with some positive words will give you an even bigger boost.
Exercise. OMG! Did she just say exercise? Many of you may already exercise in the morning, but if you don’t, I highly recommend starting. You don’t need to bust out a high intensity workout. A simple but satisfying walk is adequate (at least 20-30 minutes) to have a positive effect on how you feel for the rest of the day. Doing this every day, and in all kinds of weather, will bolster your immune system. If you are lucky enough to live in a climate where it doesn’t get below zero that often in winter, then walking in the rain and cool morning air is a great way to boost your immune system. But you must wear appropriate clothing! In the colder months I definitely recommend wearing a warm jacket, a beanie and a scarf, and of course a rain jacket when it’s raining. You can dry off when you get home. I know some of you like to get to work as soon as you get up, and that is totally ok if that works for you. However, I would recommend that at some point in the day, preferably before lunchtime, you get up and do some exercise.
Meditation. I think this is where most people struggle, mainly because they think it is hard to meditate. In fact, for beginners, meditation is as easy as sitting with your eyes closed and focusing on your breathing. Maybe you won’t attain the mind of a Zen monk, but that doesn’t matter. I would recommend that after exercising (mentioned above), you take five minutes to sit and focus on your breath (use a timer if you like). Then, once you are comfortable with that, see if you can take it up to 10, 15 or even 20 minutes. Don’t worry if your mind wanders. If you notice that happening, keep your mind focussed by counting your breaths. Meditation is known for having amazing benefits, and I can speak from experience that a consistent practice has made me feel calmer and better able to deal with all the craziness going on in the world around me.
So, there you have it. Some fairly simple strategies that you can add to your morning routine that can have a big impact on how you feel.
I’d love to know what you do every morning to get yourself started and into the swing of things. What other strategies have you tried? Please feel free to share them below.