Mornings are important because they set the tone for the day. I have noticed that a bad morning has a domino effect on everything that happens to me during the day; likewise, a happy morning makes my entire day fruitful and satisfying.
Here are five things I do as I wake up every morning, holidays included, to make sure that my day is happy and productive.
1. Wake up with gratitude
As soon as I open my eyes, even before I get out of bed, I take a few moments to be thankful for the gift of another day. I then place both my hands on my heart and greet myself with a cheerful “good morning”. I started doing after watching this video by Shauna Shapiro. Try it! It’s a sweet little gesture to begin your day on a happy note.
Then, as I face the mirror to brush my teeth, I do some mirror work as taught by Louise Hay. Mirror work is where you look at yourself in the mirror and say positive and loving things to yourself. Most of us are quick to criticise ourselves for our weaknesses but reluctant to praise and appreciate ourselves for our strengths. And nothing could be worse for our self-esteem than berating ourselves first thing in the morning. So, I make sure to smile at myself when I face my reflection in the mirror each morning and say words of praise and appreciation. It instantly improves my mood and my energy.
2. Make my bed as soon as I’m out of it
This may seem as something insignificant but it has many benefits. It’s the first ‘task’ of the day and I use it as an opportunity to practise mindfulness. As I fold the sheets and make the bed, I try to stay in the present moment and not let my mind play a rerun of yesterday’s events or plan for the day ahead. A neat bed makes the whole room look more organised and gives a fresh feeling. Be sure to teach this to your children, early on. In this talk, Navy Seal Admiral McRaven emphasises how a mundane task as making your bed can give you a sense that the little things in life matter and, if you can’t do the little things right, how can you trust yourself to do the big ones right?
3. Expose my eyes to natural light
The human body has a natural inbuilt clock, known as the diurnal cycle or circadian rhythm. Exposing your eyes to natural light in the morning helps to reset this body clock. I allow natural light fall on my retina as soon as possible in the morning. You could just stand at the window and look skyward. Or go outdoors and soak up the sun to expose your eyes to natural light—vitamin D is a bonus. Exposure to natural light increases the secretion of serotonin, a hormone that makes you alert, awake and feel good. And it’s free!
4. No internet for first 2 hours
In this era of hyperconnectivity, guess what is the first thing we reach out for as soon as we wake up? You’re right: It is the smartphone. Turning on the phone wifi/data [I turn it off before sleeping] results in a barrage of notifications, causing my attention to scatter and bring on a feeling of overwhelm. So I have made it a point not to check my phone till at least two hours after waking up—longer if possible. This also helps me avoid checking my email, social media, WhatsApp messages and news first thing in the morning. It is an entirely avoidable stimulus that is known to engage my mind in unproductive ways. I make an exception to this rule only if I am expecting an urgent email or message, and then too keep my focus only on business at hand.
5. Get done with the important stuff
If there is something that you really want to [have to] do, but you tend to push it down on your priority list as the day progresses, get that one thing done ASAP. As a yoga trainer it’s important for me to keep up my yoga practice atleast 3 – 4 times a week [besides other forms of exercise]. On days when I skip my morning yoga in the hope that I will do it in the evening, I’m often unable to do it altogether as other things take precedence. So even if it’s just 10 minutes, I make sure that I do yoga in the morning itself. Whether you need to write, run, read, or practise some skill, make sure you do it in the morning before other important/unavoidable tasks take over your time. You don’t want to end your day with feelings of guilt and regret for not having done what matters to you the most.
Try the above suggestions for four weeks and notice the difference to your sense of purpose and your energy levels.
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