It’s 6:00 a.m. and your alarm goes off. As soon as it does, it’s easy to get caught in a whirlwind of overwhelming, stressful (and sometimes even negative) thoughts —
- I can’t believe it’s time to wake up already.
- I wish I could sleep in.
- I shouldn’t have slept so late last night.
- I shouldn’t have eaten such a big dinner.
- I have so much to do today – how will I get it all done?
That’s a lot of angst to wake up with in the morning! So how can you change this chaotic start?
The trick actually starts from the night before — so, assuming you’ve managed to get to bed at a decent time and set yourself up for a good day (a post I wrote a couple months ago), here are a few things you can do to start your day off right:
- Wake up with a positive thought. It’s a brand new day. Start your day off with a thought or reflection that makes you feel positive and empowered. Even the simple thought of, ‘Today is going to be a great day!’ can get you off on the right foot.
- Drink water. Our bodies need water. There are thousands of articles out there that confirm the importance of drinking water – but I’ll summarize the main points for you. While we’re sleeping, we’re not drinking water — so we wake up dehydrated. Rehydrate yourself by drinking at least 1/2 L of water first thing in the morning. Water also fires up your metabolism and helps your body flush out toxins. Keep a bottle of water by your bedside so you can hydrate yourself as soon as you wake up. Don’t like the taste of water? Start with small sips and build up your intake. There really is no better substitute.
- Give yourself 15 extra minutes. I know this might sound like a killer. When sleep and time are both precious, waking up 15 minutes earlier may seem like an enormous ask … but trust me, it will help. You don’t necessarily have to have the most productive 15 minutes, but waking up a bit earlier will ensure that any last minute things you may have to get done aren’t rushed. Plus, waking up a bit earlier will give you time for #7 & #8!
- Resist reaching for your phone or the TV remote. I am so guilty of reaching for my phone 1st thing in the morning. I really am trying to break this habit. Emails can wait. Facebook updates can wait. It isn’t important to see how many likes you got on your Instagram post from the night before. Just relax. Minutes (hours?) of our lives can get sucked away through mindless surfing of social media. Don’t get me wrong – I love social media and I love to be/stay connected with others … but balance is important. As for the TV — well, I think it’s great to stay informed, but with so much tragedy and devastating news around the world, I think it’s ok for me to be selfish with my morning and keep it chaos-free. The news can wait. [By the way — I am so tempted to keep my phone in another room over night. I keep my phone on silent anyway … and I can always go back to a traditional alarm clock — it would definitely remove temptation to check my screen whenever my sleep breaks in the middle of the night … hmmmmm … maybe (stay tuned).]
- Make your bed. I make my bed every morning, but I hate doing it. I really do. I love seeing it made and done, but the actual process — well, it makes me feel like a grumpy teenager who does not want to do their chores! Although it’s a habit I had already developed, one thing that had quite a positive impact on me was Naval Adm. William McRaven’s commencement address at the University of Texas (May 2014). His speech (20 minutes long) is really worth listening to. Here’s what he said about making your bed: If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right. And, if by chance you have had a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” For some reason, his words just stuck to me — and so each day, I make my bed.
- Listen to music. I used to do this a lot before, but I had stopped. More recently, I’ve restarted this habit. I love music. It uplifts me, motivates me, and definitely gets me going. I think choosing a tune that suits you/your mood can set the tone for the rest of the day (or at least the morning).
- Stretch. Take 5 minutes to stretch. It doesn’t have to be a complicated yoga routine — just do a few neck circles, roll your shoulders, reach up and bend forward to touch your toes — breathe in each position and try to relax and wake your muscles up. [This is my basic morning routine, but there are tons of other suggestions for simple morning stretches, like this one, out on the Internet.]
- Exercise. Yes, that’s right — exercise. I know morning exercise isn’t for everyone, but it really is a great way to jump start your day. The trick is to do something you enjoy. Whether it’s a 10 minute dance party or a jog around the block — find something that moves you — and get moving! [I read an article featuring Bob Harper and I loved his idea of a 10 minute EMOM (that’s every minute on the minute) morning workout. The workout was: Every even minute [0, 2, 4, 6, 8] do push-ups for 30 seconds and then rest for 30 seconds. Every odd minute [1, 3, 5, 7, 9] do squat jumps for 30 seconds. Then rest for 30 seconds. In all that’s really just 5 minutes of work — but it’s a workout that will get your heart pumping and work your whole body. Of course you can modify the workout to your fitness level – just starting out with push-ups? Do them against the wall or on your knees. Can’t squat jump? Just do normal squats; go as deep as you can without hurting yourself. Don’t like this workout at all? Choose 2 of your favorite exercises — the bottom line is, this is a short workout that doesn’t need much space or any equipment. I tried it out this morning — it was challenging, but I loved it!]
- Eat a balanced breakfast. Don’t skip breakfast. Seriously. Don’t. Sit down. Eat something. There is nothing SO important that you can’t take 10 minutes to sit down and eat. Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m guilty of eating on the go and one of my worst habits is standing at the kitchen counter eating my meals instead of sitting down. I’m working on it … but the main thing is, you’ve got to eat something. Don’t just grab a breakfast bar and a cup of coffee. Eat something that will nourish you and fuel you for your day.
- Make a Top 3 list. Make a list (it can be in your head, but it’s better if it’s written down) of 3 things you want to accomplish today. Make sure they are productive things (so take a shower would not be an acceptable one) and ones that are reasonable within your routine of the day (planning to clean out the garage on a day when you have only 1 hour to spare may not be the best one to write down). Having a target list can keep you focused, help you prioritize, and give you something to reflect on at the end of the day. If you were able to accomplish your top 3 things, fabulous! If not, take a moment to reassess what threw you off track – was it a last-minute meeting, lack of planning, or just plain laziness? Whatever the reason, when you figure out what your obstacle was, you can go about fixing the issue and trying to tackle that task again.
I know that’s a lot of stuff to throw at you, and it can feel like a monumental amount of work (and time) to just start your day. I guess you have to find out what works best for you. If you’re waking up feeling tired and stressed and you’re ending your day feeling exhausted and like you didn’t accomplish anything, then it is worth taking some time to reevaluate your routine and set yourself up for success. Find what works for you, come up with a plan, and put it into action.
Have an amazing day!!
my morning motto
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