Mornings. Love them or not, the way you spend the first hour of each morning can determine your experience for the rest of the day.
How did you start your day today? When you woke up, what were the first thoughts that came to mind? Did you immediately dread your hectic schedule, or wake up feeling grateful for another day of living?
As beloved self-help author Louise Hay noted, “How you start your day is often how you live your life.”
You can choose to allow negative thinking, circumstances or distractions to set the tone for the day, or you can engage in an enriching and energizing routine that creates positivity that lasts.
Try the following tips and techniques to set yourself up for your best day.
Avoid rushing and being overwhelmed in the mornings by preparing the night before. Do you make breakfast for others as well as yourself? Have vegetables chopped for omelets, or berries rinsed and ready to serve. Got an early appointment? Choose your outfit the night before. Any time you save is time earned toward self-care and making your day a better one.
Budget time for yourself in the mornings, even if it means getting up earlier. Can’t imagine that happening? Ease into it by getting up just 15 minutes earlier, then add additional 15-minute increments over time with the goal of setting aside an hour for self-care. Consider your morning self-care hour protected, and ask others to honor your “me” time.
Strive to stay away from your phone and computer for at least an hour after waking. Tuning into the news first thing can start your day on a negative note. Checking emails or work-related items can lead to stress and overwhelm. Likewise, scrolling through social media allows the energy of others to affect your own energy just as your day is beginning.
Clear any morning brain fog with some deep breathing exercises. Your brain is only two percent of your body weight on average, but it consumes 20 percent of nutrients and oxygen. Practicing deep breathing exercises gets you alert and ready for your day.
An easy way to start is with a technique called 4-7-8 breathing, which has a basis in meditation and yoga and can be done in 5 easy steps:
1. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, behind your front teeth.
2. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4.
3. Hold your breath for a count of 7.
4. Exhale through your mouth with a whooshing sound for a count of 8.
5. Without a break, repeat the exercise 3-4 times in a row, then resume normal breathing.
Create your own positive energy, using your time as a golden hour to set your intentions and visualize an amazing day for yourself. Begin by thinking of three things that you’re looking forward to that day. Identify ways that you’ll find joy in the day—even if you have to create them yourself. These thoughts will alert your brain to seek more good during the hours that follow.
Enjoy a quiet meditation, made even easier with the guidance of apps such as Insight Timer, Calm or Headspace. Additionally or alternatively, write in your journal, read something inspiring or simply reflect on the things for which you are grateful. Whatever you chose, focus on self-renewal.
It’s important to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. For example, a 150-pound woman should aim to consume 75 ounces of water daily. Even if you’re reaching your daily intake goal, everyone becomes dehydrated as they sleep. Rehydrate yourself by drinking a large glass of water soon after waking and before eating.
Not only will this help fuel your brain, which is 76 percent water, it will also help flush toxins from your body. Research has shown that drinking about 16 ounces of cold water in the morning can also boost your body’s metabolism by approximately 24 percent—a refreshing way to jump start your day.
A full workout is not required, yet it’s important to activate your body at the beginning of each day. Dedicate a few minutes to an activity you enjoy—yoga, stretching, foam-rolling, walking. This will get your body limber and your blood pumping, and add to your list of morning successes.
If at all possible, spend at least five minutes outside each morning, regardless of the temperature. Take your favorite beverage along with you. Enjoy the pre-dawn stars, a beautiful sunrise, or the gentle patter of raindrops. This practice can help you relax, restore your focus and boost your mood.
Set yourself up for the best days of your life by creating a healthy and fulfilling morning routine that is uniquely yours. Whatever you choose to do, remember that self-care is not selfish. Taking care of yourself allows you to give the world the best of you, not just what is left of you.
May all of your mornings be good ones!
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