How would you like an easy way to feel calm, more focused and better prepared to exceed your expectations for the day ahead? Imagine having an easy method to be able to do exactly that? Well it can be yours, and with relatively little time or effort.
By introducing convenient and easy to manage behaviours to the start of your day, adjusting a couple of habits and creating an effective morning routine.
In years past, I used to rush out of bed, scramble to check messages, get ready and leave for work in a flurry – almost guaranteed to be running late. Get up. Get updated. Get dressed. Get Caffeinated. Get out…Fast When reading articles like this one I used to choose from a big bag of excuses: “It’s just not for me” or “I have too much to do first thing” or “I need to see my overnight emails asap in the morning in case there is something urgent”.
Then one morning, after a particularly stressful start I realised that there has to be a better way. I discovered that there are a few very easy to implement principles and small changes that made a phenomenal difference to my day which I would like to share with you. Nowadays, I wake up feeling calm and refreshed. My productivity has shot through the roof, I feel like I have 50% more time and am 100% more effective…and I was no slow coach to begin with! I often wake up with a solution to something which has been bothering me or with a new idea that’s completely out of the box. So how did I do it?
We are all creatures of habit as the saying goes and if you think about what you do every morning, you will probably find that you already have a routine. Whether that’s a critical early morning email or report, checking overnight markets or getting the kids ready for school. I simply took a step back and asked myself: What’s essential, disposable and adjustable about my existing routine and what new habits do I need to create?
I identified 5 key principles that all of us can apply to the start of our day and crucially. The one thing to avoid doing first thing in the morning. Change this if nothing else. By making the simple decision to avoid our digital devices and TV, the news and any other source of negative information from the outside world – even if it’s just for a few extra minutes so we can focus on our minds instead – we retain control of our thoughts and emotions as we start our day. In short, become more proactive and less reactive.
5 principles that will give you a great morning
A great morning routine actually begins the night before with a comfortable night’s sleep. Studies have repeatedly shown that we function much more effectively with at least 7 hours sleep. Our minds work faster, our bodies feel better, we think more clearly, we are more motivated and less likely to feel anxious or depressed.
After several hours with nil by mouth, it’s good for us to hydrate our bodies with water. Better to sip and not too cold. There are many people who swear by the benefits of adding some lemon juice to water first thing in the morning so perhaps see if it is helpful for you.
I believe this is the single most helpful thing that we can do for ourselves. The long term benefits are amazing. It’s the key to remaining calm in a crisis, thinking clearly and making better decisions. Practice whatever feels most comfortable, this could simply be sitting quietly and thinking about the day ahead, longer term goals or any of a number of mindful activities including: meditation, journaling, breathing, visualization, prayer and yoga. The important part is to be calm and collected with your thoughts in any way that works for you, before the bustle of the day takes over. Take some time – start with 5 -10 minutes to sit quietly and reflect. Do this as soon as possible after waking before anything or anyone gets a chance to influence your mood or thoughts.
Even if there’s no time to work out in the morning, it’s great for the body and the mind to get the blood moving and our bodies loosened up at the start of the day. At least a few stretches or even a couple of sun salutations are great for keeping us nimble and creating positive brain activity.
We can also do things like walking briskly on the way to work. If working from home, then a walk around the block or up and down some stairs a few times can also do the trick.
There are arguments for both having a healthy breakfast and also for skipping breakfast but in my opinion, the key is to keep it healthy. If you do have breakfast, avoid overloading on carbohydrates and sugar which can give you a mid morning crash and if you skip it then make sure you drink water and don’t binge on unhealthy fast food to compensate later in the day.
How do I start my day? It didn’t happen overnight, and I began with just one or two small adjustments and then kept going as I experienced the improvements: meditation, consider my goals and objectives, review the day ahead, gratitude journal, quick workout, breakfast and check messages.
Of course, there have been exceptions. Those nights when I push things a little too late and feel the effects the next morning or the sneak peek to check my messages first thing but these situations quickly went from frequent to occasional.
Mornings matter, It’s easy in today’s turbulent times to get sucked into operating our autopilot routines first thing every morning. For many of us, life in the past year has changed dramatically and now might involve different working arrangements or working from home. It’s not hard to make improvements, and the results can be astounding but it takes intention. New behaviours can often feel uncomfortable. We can easily fall back into an old habit instead of following a new routine.
I have previously written about goals and the article included some useful ideas that can be helpful in making changes to your mornings. So don’t delay, take a few minutes to think about your existing morning and ask yourself: What’s essential, disposable and adjustable about your existing routine and what new habits do you need to create? You will be amazed at the positive changes you can instigate in yourself and the gigantic impact this can have on your quality of life.
Enjoy your new and improved mornings!
“If you win the morning you win the day”