Have you ever woken up late, rolled out of bed with your heart pounding, and started rushing around trying to get everything you need ready to start your day? Yeah, me too. Not an awesome way to begin a new day of life. When I get up late and frantically try to cram in all the things I like to do at the beginning of the day (i.e. put the coffee on, make a nice breakfast, practice yoga or run, and sort out the day’s to do list… before I power up the computer for coaching appointments or get my 4 year old daughter up and moving) I start the day feeling frazzled, drained and fuzzy headed. What I want to feel at the beginning of the day is calm, gently energized and clear minded. Because every day is a new day, right? Each and every morning offers up a new opportunity to make the choices that will set up a day full of actions that invite the feelings that we want. So how can we ensure our success in starting the day off right and feeling how we want to feel?
- Go to bed early. Yes, sometimes it is that simple. Power down the iPad, turn off the phone or at least turn off the sounds, and don’t even think about watching late night TV. (ideally don’t watch TV at all) Avoid screens 2 hours before you try to fall asleep (studies have shown that the “blue light” in most screens hinders the production of melatonin, which is essential for a good night’s sleep.) Establish a bedtime, and hold yourself to it. Tell your household what you are doing. Give yourself the gift of sleep, and the next morning will be that much better.
- Identify what is most important to do at the start of the day, and ensure you have enough time to do it. Ideally I like to have enough time to cook breakfast, enjoy it with coffee, practice yoga for at least 30 minutes and take a walk outside. But sometimes I just don’t have time for the whole routine due to the schedule of the day, and I have to choose. And I’ve found that, for me, choosing yoga or that outside walk, along with a nice cup of coffee makes the most difference in helping me to feel how I want to feel. I can do without a fancy breakfast more successfully that I can do without my morning movement or outside time. (along with a hot caffeinated beverage, especially in the cold part of the year.)
- Get things ready the night before. Make having a nice breakfast easy by putting some steel cut oats in the slow cooker before you go to bed. Get the coffee maker ready to go so all you have to do is turn it on. Set our your favorite mug and a beautiful bowl. Lay out your yoga pants so you don’t have to fumble around in the dark to find them. Put your running shoes next to the door, along with some socks. If you can make it easier – then make it easier! It’s not cheating if you plan ahead.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Get a little notebook, and write three things in it every evening that you are thankful for. Doesn’t matter what, or how small. Just three things. Everyday. Just before you go to bed. Going to sleep with your mind focused on the good things will result in better sleep, and you’ll wake up more ready to look for the good in the next day. And so on. After a while you might even start looking forward to waking up in the morning.
- Avoid screen time first thing in the morning, too. Just like you are going to avoid screens right before bed, avoid them first thing in the morning. Start your day by being fully present and rooted in the here and now, not looking at the news, not planning the day, not checking your email or social media updates. Look out the window, notice the light taking hold of the new day, and breathe deeply, if even just for five minutes. Then you can check your email. But be sure to root yourself fully in the physical reality that is right in front of you first.
So in summary, to have a day that is full of good energy and vibrant life, choose how your day’s story starts by going to bed at a time that allows you to wake up at a time that allows you to do whatever it is that feeds your soul and makes you feel what you want to feel at the beginning of the day, with a little gratitude thrown in for good measure. And don’t bookend your day with screens. Easy, right? (Gets easier with practice….and you get a new chance to try again every day. It’s like a ready – made model for success! The universe is tricky like that sometimes.)
What makes your mornings better?