When you first wake up in the morning, you’re in a highly vulnerable state. Fresh from the realm of the unconscious, the first thoughts and emotions you experience set the tone for the rest of your day.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? If your alarm is on your phone, chances are that once the device is in your hand you immediately check texts, email and Facebook.
Smart phones have changed how we work, spend leisure time and relate to others. But they also have had a dramatic impact on how we relate to ourselves, beginning the moment we awaken each morning. If you start your day focused on the external—tragic headlines, work demands, social media drama—you’ve essentially made these your priorities.
What if, instead of diving headlong into reactive mode, where other peoples’ priorities take center stage, you established a proactive morning ritual, one that leaves you feeling energized, organized and ready to tackle the day? You probably already know which habits aren’t serving you, so why not give them a sendoff? Focus on what really makes your mornings better and give them priority. Your morning might look something like this:
Get up! Avoid the temptation to hit the snooze button, which—as you already know—does nothing except delay the inevitable. Get up right away and you’ll have more time to devote to your ideal morning routine. One way to implement this new process is to place your alarm (or smart phone) on the other side of the room. Promise yourself that once your feet are on the floor, you won’t slip back into bed until tonight.
Make the bed. Although it’s a small thing, making your bed means you’ve already accomplished a task. This sense of pride can carry you to the next task and then the next throughout the day. By making the bed you begin to de–clutter your space, which reduces stress. Plus, you get to come home to a bed that’s made.
Meditate or pray. Reflection and prayer are both powerful ways to start the day and strengthen the relationship between your mind, spirit and body. There’s no right way, so if you’ve tried different techniques and didn’t find one you like, maybe it’s time to develop your own personal style. Choose a position you find comfortable, and decide if you’d like music or not. Just sitting and being in silence can be enough for many people. You don’t need to go into a hypnotic trance or spend an hour in the lotus position. You can get benefits from just a few focused minutes and you’ll see a marked improvement in the upward trend your days start to take. Still hate the idea? At least make a commitment to read a motivational quote or passage every morning.
Move. There are a lot of great reasons to exercise in the morning. For starters, when you make movement a part of your morning routine, you’ll be less likely to skip it for other temptations or obligations. Additionally, by starting out on a healthy note, you’re more likely to want to eat nutritious food. It may help you to know that the majority of people who are consistent with sticking to an exercise regime do their exercise in the morning. Morning exercisers also report better quality sleep.
Pack your lunch. Not only will you save money, you’ll have greater control over what’s going into your body over the course of the day—which will provide built-in midday discipline if you sometimes find that you’re lacking. Prepare your lunch the night before or lay out containers to remind yourself what you’d like to bring for your meal.
Organize your day. By writing out a list of the tasks you need to complete, and prioritizing them, you can plan your scheduled activities in a way that makes sense. Many people get distracted first thing in the morning with less importat tasks—such as responding to email—when there may be a whole host of more significant issues that need dealing with. Make a to-do list and try to complete it before your energy is siphoned by other things.
If you can’t manage to adopt all of these strategies to start, begin with a promise to give yourself at least 15 minutes of no screen time. Resist the urge to check social media or email; it just sets you up for a day of being a slave to technology. Your morning time is precious and should be reserved just for you. Consider temporarily disabling notifications so you’re not tempted by that Facebook update or incoming emails.
Obviously, the key to success with a new morning plan is preparation. Getting to bed early enough is critical. If you don’t get sufficient sleep you’ll be tired and more likely to succumb to hitting snooze.