Win your morning and you can win your day
We talked a couple of weeks ago about using gratitude in the morning to curb your stress response. It is so important to start your day right, it's your foundation for the day. So, let's delve into more ways your morning could start with less chaos. These are tips I give my patients and ones that have helped me personally as well. Last week one of my patients told me a phrase that I had never heard, “If you can win your morning, you can win your day.” I think there’s some truth to this. If you start off on the right foot, so to speak, you can set the tone you want for your day. Think about all the mornings that have been too harried or frazzled. It takes so long to repair this feeling and sometimes, it doesn't even seem possible. You just know this is a day that feels like it went the wrong way. So let’s dive into your morning and see how we can win it!
Let’s start with your alarm. What do you use, your phone or an actual old-school alarm clock? When I looked into surveys, the numbers ranged from 48-90% as the number of people around the world that use their phones as their actual alarm clock. Common and usual occurrence, I would say. Many people haven’t seen an alarm clock in quite a while. But I think going old school might be one way to win your morning. A survey from the Deloitte consulting firm shows that 43 percent of consumers check their phones within five minutes of waking up and 17 percent check them immediately. Does this sound familiar to you? This feels like the sure way to lose your morning to your agenda, your work and your to-do’s. (At least, I feel that way when I give into my phone in the morning!) And if you wake up to an alarm on your phone, you can see why you would be tempted to check your phone first thing. It's already in your hand! Instead of checking your phone, we could do a few cleansing breaths of gratitude that we talked about last time. So why not try a gentle sound of a rainforest or ocean on an alarm clock and ease into your morning? Nothing to roll over and grab. Just roll back and start your breath work.
That gentle awakening and cleansing of the breath could then flow into some movement. It could be stretching or something more formal like yoga or qi gong. Either way we move not only our bodies but also our mind and emotions. We can awake into a flow state instead of getting stuck in a thought pattern where we anticipate our day instead of unfolding into the present moment. And remember the tip of also moving our feet from the bed to the ground as our reminder to have gratitude. That gratitude can extend further as we move our body into flow as we count our blessings from the previous day. I often tell patients that if the body does not move, the mind also stays still and sometimes gets stuck. This morning flow state can keep you "unstuck" and gently "move you" into the morning.
The next step can be some meditation or stillness. Movement is often the best way to move into stillness. Now, if you are someone who cannot sit still, by all means just let the movement also be your meditation. Stay present to the movement of your limbs and how you feel and this will be a double win! But if you like to get some stillness of body in the morning, this is the perfect time. If coffee or tea is a morning ritual, you can even use that as your next step to make this morning a winner. Commit to making your beverage mindfully, steeping your tea while you stand still in meditation. Allow the mere five minutes or so to make your coffee/tea to be a time when you can be with the process so that your morning moves in a melodic and meditative way. Think about the difference between this and rushing. Even just imagining this calmer approach can help me relax. I call it tea or coffee meditation. Why try to insert meditation on top of what you already do? Make what you already do meditative! And if you like sitting in stillness, then this is a good time, before the busy-ness of the day catches you. Creating a space free of clutter in your house can be an inspiring place to find this stillness. There are so many ways to meditate. Find yours and you will find some peace in your day.
Now this one might be getting too up close and personal but I am hoping we are becoming better friends each week...how about your shower? This used to be a place where I endlessly reviewed my todos for the day or anticipated the day to come. And often this anticipation was a harried one. Now, I stand in the shower and imagine the water as golden rays of light falling over me and literally washing away my expectations for the day, good or bad. It gives me a way to shift to a place of presence instead of a place of anxiety. Yep, a shower meditation can do you good!
And then end your morning with a walking meditation. I guarantee you I can tell the difference between walking into work while doing a walking meditation or rushing in as I go over the Rolodex of the day's agenda in my mind. A walking meditation is such a simple thing. It really just means being with the journey instead of just going from point A to point B. I like Sharon Salzberg’s explanation of thinking about your consciousness being in your feet instead of behind your eyes or in your mind. So as your feet touch the ground, you can have a mantra or image that comes with each touch. Even just “touch, touch.” As simple as that. My whole day at work is different when I come in clarity of mind from doing this versus relentessly reviewing things in my mind. And I don’t know about you. But I have yet to find that going over things in my mind has anything to do with doing them more efficiently during the day. Instead, it just stresses me out and clouds my thinking, thus making me less productive.
Now, that’s just your morning! Imagine all the ways you can transform your day after that. But at the least try to start with gratitude and move through your morning in some meditative way so that you can win your day. Remember the tips below and let me know if and how your morning changes!
Transform your morning!
Leave your phone in a different room and use an old school alarm clock.
Take a few breaths of gratitude before you even get out of bed.
As your feet touch the ground, have gratitude for being able to get up and out of bed and meeting a new day.
Incorporate some gentle movement into the start of your day to get into a flow state.
Try some meditation of a type that speaks to you. Movement can flow you into stillness or you can meditate while moving.
Make your coffee/tea time a ritual and mediation as well. Find the sacred in the ordinary.
Try a walking meditation into your work or as you move into your first tasks of the day.