I Just Woke Up, Now What?
Learning to build a morning discipline into your daily routine just might be the fastest way to improve performance in any area of your life! Most people have grabbed their cell phones to check email, texts, social media, or news feeds before they’ve even rouse out of bed in the morning. The problem with doing this is that rather than deciding how you want to feel and then working hard to cultivate more of that feeling, you are allowing things totally outside of your control to determine how you will feel as you enter into your day. Whether it’s an email from your boss reminding you of a late report, a phone bill you neglected to pay, or a text message from an ex professing their undying love, by engaging with your phone first, you’ve just placed the fate of your day into the hands of chance! Rather than letting a “bad” weather report or obnoxious news headline set off a bad mood that could potentially negatively impact the rest of your day – and life – try committing to a daily morning routine.
Optimizing your state of mind – your mood – as you begin the day is what we call, “winning the day!” . This means preparing your mind and body for all that lies ahead! By taking charge of the morning you hedge your bet by getting into an optimal state of mind and body from the start.
Here are the 8 things I like to do to get my day started.
Gratitude/Appreciation. Start the day with gratitude! Before I engage in the “problem scan,” frantically scanning my mind for the list of all the things I don’t want to do that day, I immediately reach for all that I am grateful for, or appreciative of! This puts me in the right frame of mind to begin to approach the day ahead!
Smile. I always remember to try to have a positive attitude! Making the shift to a positive attitude might be the single biggest contributor to an improved life! It may sound corny to you, but your attitude really is everything! That’s because your thoughts are mood dependent. How you feel dictates the direction of your thinking, and that is what ultimately drives your perception. What that means is what you see is not an objective version of what is, but a byproduct of what you believe, think, and feel at any given time. In fact, before I even open my eyes each day, I make sure to smile nice and big. The act of smiling alone will help boost your mood as it releases neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. No matter what lies ahead, starting your day with a smile immediately sets you up to make rational decisions, see the world favorably and ensure you feel as though you can be, do, or have anything!
Cold water. Take a quick cold shower or give your face a cold water splash! A little cold water helps to get your blood circulating, tightens pores, and soothes your eyes.
Hydration. I head right to the kitchen and pour myself a 10-12 ounce cup of room temperature water. I recommend using filtered water, if possible. I like to put a dropper of trace minerals into my water to get some minerals that have been depleted after seven to nine hours of sleep with no fluids. Trace minerals give your body magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, iodine to get your body prepared for the stressors of the day.
Sunlight. Exposing your body to sunshine in the morning is a great way to set your circadian clock effectively. Sunlight also helps regulate mood and metabolism, and it even helps mitigate some of the effects of blue light exposure from the electronics that you will be exposed to throughout the rest of your day.
Movement. Adding in movement helps with getting the body ready for any stressors later in the day. Whether it’s a mindful walk out in the sunshine, a few sun salutations, stretching, etc., mindful movement is a perfect way to set a positive tone for the day. Personally, I go on my rebounder (mini trampoline) and jump for 5-10 minutes!
Meditation. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say, “I can’t meditate!” Newsflash, no one can! That’s why we call it a practice! Meditation is the fastest way to neutralize negative mood states! It also teaches you to quiet your mind down long enough to be able to separate out your voice, from the obsessive critical and fear based narrating! Even if you just start by setting a timer for five minutes and little by little work up the stamina to sit longer, that’s plenty to get started! Just sit quietly, count your breathing, and try and allow thoughts to come and go without attaching to them. Watch them like a cloud or a train passing you by! Thats really it!
Music. What if you knew that today was going to be the biggest day of your life? How might you approach it differently? If you watch any athlete or follow sports closely enough you know that music is a big part of their preparation strategy! Using music as a way to cultivate a positive mood is something I have done since high school. The great thing about this is it doesn’t take any extra time! You can put music on while you get ready in the morning. Personally, I prefer to put music on even as I take a shower!
We recommend trying a combination of these, or coming up with your own, for at least the next 30-60 days. The key to making this work is to be realistic about what you know you can, and will do routinely. Remember that how you approach your life is the single most important factor in determining your success, or failure.
What could possibly be more important than taking this time for you?
About the Author
Adam Pellegrini is the leading bioengineer at MYND MVMT, a program that offers an alternative approach to mental health & addiction treatment. MYND MVMT uses an integrated, health & wellness model where mindfulness, nutrition, fitness, and long term goal attainment are built into the rehabilitation process. Mind Mvmt specializes in the treatment & recovery of depression, anxiety, substance use & abuse, behavioral addictions, and working with those who struggle to feel fulfilled in their lives.