How you start the morning sets tone for your entire day. Your mood as you begin your day greatly affects how you will greet the challenges and stresses that are sure to come across your desk. So how do you set yourself up for success? What are some small, but effective mindful ways you can take back your morning?
What does it mean to be mindful? It simply means focusing awareness on the moment at hand instead of letting your mind drift into the future, or the past. Instead, it focuses your mind on your body, and settles your nervous system so you can calmly move through your feelings throughout the day. Starting every day with a mindful morning means you’re taking the first few minutes of the day for you, and you deserve it.
1. Remember to breathe.
Sometimes, all you need to do is breathe to return your body to normal. The moment you open your eyes in the morning, all you need to do is concentrate on your breath.
Pay attention to how it feels as you transition from your dream-state to reality. Take those moments to catalog your thoughts and how you’re feeling, allowing each thought to linger and have its moment before you gently push it away.
When your body is filled with positive breath, it’s time to get up!
2. Start your day with positivity.
If you begin your day with positive thoughts, you are more likely to look at everything through rose-colored glasses. Grab a pen and paper and jot down the things you have in life that you are grateful for. You don’t have to even go with big things – you can be grateful for a roof you’re your head or even just a warm cup of coffee in the morning. Make a mental inventory of something, or the many things, that you are looking forward to today (or this week, or this month…).
This will recharge your brain and rewire your thoughts to find the good in everything, even bad situations.
3. Skip the technology.
Starting your day off by checking email or surfing social media can set you off on a stressful path. It can distract you from your thoughts and feelings and fill you with external stimuli.
Using technology first thing in the morning is not a mindful way to start your day, so find another way to wake up that will inspire you and fill you with creativity. Set a designated time to start work and don’t open your email (or Facebook) until that time.
4. Bring intention to the routine things.
Whether it’s making breakfast for yourself or your family, walking your pets, or simply sitting down with a cup of coffee, be intentional in your presence to those activities. Cook your breakfast with love, absorb the morning air and reflect on the seasonal changes as you walk outside, and take the time to savor that cup of coffee.
When you activate your senses and bring intention to routine things, they seem less like a drag and more like an invigorating activity.
5. Exercise or practice yoga.
Exercising in the morning gets your blood flowing and releases endorphins (the happy hormones) that will start your day off on a positive note. If you don’t have time for a long workout, even five sun salutations or gentle yoga stretches will help.
Moving your breath within your body calms the nervous system and starts you off relaxed, so you’ll be ready to handle any stressful situation in your day.
6. Spend some time outside.
Whether it’s walking the dog or taking a quick walk around the block, the fresh air will invigorate you. Your body will connect with nature, allowing your mind to clear and making room for creativity.
Studies also show that going outside and getting more physical activity actually helps to prevent sickness, too.
7. Find pleasure in your morning commute.
Sometimes the morning commute can drag us down. Choosing a good book on tape for long commutes (or inspiring music for shorter ones) can help set the right state of mind. Instead of being frustrated by red traffic lights and slow drivers, take this opportunity to practice patience and kindness towards strangers.
Having some alone time in the car is also a good way to set your intention for the day.
8. Wake up an hour early
If you’re finding it hard to meet any of these mindful practices, set a positive tone for your day by simply waking up earlier. This will keep your morning stress free, with no rushing around to try to get everything done.
Allow yourself the time to meditate, journal, or sit down and enjoy your coffee with the morning paper. You’ll thank yourself for it later!