How you start off your morning can have a big impact on how the rest of your day proceeds. If you start off in a negative mind state, that state is likely to persist for the rest of the day. On the other hand, if you start off in a positive mind state, that state can also carry you throughout the rest of the day, no matter what else you encounter.
Unfortunately, too many of us don't take our mornings seriously. Instead, we sleep until the last possible moment, take a quick shower, maybe grab a bite to eat or a cup of coffee, and then run out the door.
I encourage you to start taking your mornings a lot more seriously. Below are several suggestions for improving your mornings and getting your day off to a positive start. It may not be possible to incorporate all of them into your mornings, but even incorporating just a few of them will have positive impacts.
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Breakfast is arguably the most important meal of the day. When we wake up in the mornings, our energy is depleted by as much as 80%. Not surprisingly, research has consistently shown that skipping breakfast can have short-term effects on mood, memory and energy level.
Yet too many of us rush through it or skip it entirely. Or we grab something quick once we reach the office. Instead we'd be better off spending a few extra minutes eating a healthy breakfast, one that will help elevate our mood and give us energy for the rest of the morning.
Exercise is a well known method for elevating your mood and increasing your energy levels. In fact, regular exercise has been shown to have the same effects as anti-depressants.
You don't have to do a lot of exercising in the morning in order to reap the benefits. If you're pressed for time, try just doing 3-5 minutes of exercise. Find some simple exercises that you can do at home like jumping jacks, push-ups or yoga.
You can do the rest of your exercising later in the day, when you're not as pressed for time. Of course, you should probably do your exercising AFTER you've eaten that healthy breakfast.
Spend 5-10 minutes each morning journaling on a positive topic. That will help get the positive thought process moving and set you up for success for the rest of the day.
Here are some options though you are obviously free to create your own.
What will I do today to work towards my meaningful goals?
What am I grateful for right now?
What will I do today to improve someone else's life?
Have a positive conversation or write a positive note
If you live with other people, then I encourage you to start off the day by having positive conversation. You might even make a commitment that all morning conversations in your house have to be positive. One option is to use some of the questions that you would normally use for journaling.
If you live by yourself, then send someone a positive email. It doesn't have to be a long email. Just a short note thanking them for something or letting them know that you were thinking of them can do the trick.
Stop Using the Snooze Alarm
I'm one of the lucky ones. Unless I have an early morning flight to catch, I never use an alarm clock. In fact, I haven't used one in years.
But I know that there are lots of people who need them to wake up in the morning. Unfortunately, instead of getting up when the alarm goes off, they hit the snooze button. And not just once. They hit it over and over and over again.
You might think that those extra 5-15 minutes of sleep help you. But recent research has shown the opposite. When you go back to sleep after hitting the snooze alarm, you don't have time to complete a sleep cycle. This in turns leads to increased grogginess which can take up to 1 ½ hours to shake it off.
If you have to, put your alarm as far away from the bed as possible. That way, you have to get out of the bed in order to turn it off and will be less likely to hit the snooze button. Better yet, go to bed a little bit earlier so you get a full night's sleep without the snooze button.
You don't need to do 30 or more minutes of meditation and reach an altered state of consciousness for it to be effective. What's important is consistency and commitment. Pick a type of meditation and commit to sitting for a minimum of 5 minutes every morning.
If you don't have time for a formal sitting meditation, then try doing mindfulness meditation in which you focus intently on the sensory experiences of your current activity. Mindfulness meditation can be incorporated into many of your normal morning activities, such as taking a shower or eating a healthy breakfast.
Listen to or Read Something Positive
Put some positive energy into your mind using positive stimulation. Instead of turning on the news and listening to all the horrible things happening in the world, spend that time positively. Read a self-improvement book or listen to uplifting music for a few minutes every morning. This one can even be incorporated into your commute!
Prepare the night before
Many of you may be thinking: "But I don't have time to do all of this in the morning". One of the best ways to set yourself up for success is to prepare the night before.
Turn off your TV or shut off your computer 15 minutes early. And use that time to prepare things for the following morning. For example, you can cut up some fruit for your breakfast. Or you can set your journal out where you will see it. Or you can set your exercise clothes out. Basically anything that makes your following morning easier.
Mornings don't have to be difficult. In fact, with the right habits mornings can even be enjoyable and set you up to have a positive day! Which of the above habits will you build into your morning?