How many times have you woken up, say for work, and immediately felt dread for the day? This is an all too common occurrence and I have plenty of first-hand experience myself. We rush to get ready, we rush to get out the door and the whole time we are filled with anticipatory stress and misery. Over the course of months and years, we condition ourselves to wake up in this manner, and in turn, we set ourselves up for a miserable day. We develop certain beliefs about what to expect at work, how we are going to feel, and the amount of stress we will endure. We are actually reinforcing beliefs and practices that keep us in a state of anxiety and misery.
Recently, I was researching morning hacks to at least start the day off on the right foot. I kind of absorbed information here and there and developed my own personal plan for my morning. I wanted to share with you three important habits I have started to develop that have slowly had some impact in how I approach my day and my life in general. I still struggle with stress and anxiety in the morning, its an ongoing battle, but some of these things really help to either alleviate some of my anxiety or help me develop a better attitude towards my situation that day. So here we go.
The first habit I do when I wake up in the morning and get out of bed is to think about things that I am grateful for in my life. For instance, I might wake up and think “I am alive today, I have an opportunity to be a human being with the wealth of experiences that can come from this life.” “I am grateful for this hot shower.” “I am grateful to be healthy” “I am grateful to have people in my life that love and support me” “I am grateful to have such and such opportunities”. There is always something each of us can be grateful for in this life.
I think that being able to recognize and generate gratitude first thing in the morning is helpful in framing your mindset for the day on a positive, healthy, and constructive note. Remember the world just reflects our own feelings back at us, so when we choose to see the blessings and the fortuitous attributes of our lives, we are conditioning our minds to approach life in a more positive and grateful fashion.
As a side note, this is not something that will instantly change your life. It won’t. These routines I discuss are a gradual process which take effort, discipline, and persistence. You might not feel very different at first, it might be difficult to concentrate on gratitude when stressful triggers are all around you, but slowly over time, this practice will change your reality. It naturally took time to condition our minds in such a way so it will naturally take time to un-condition our minds to stop stressing or pointing out the negative first thing in the morning. However, it’s a great habit to start and has helped me in my life.
The second habit that I have been doing in the morning, usually after the gratitude exercise is to think about an intention or purpose for the day. There are several studies to suggest that a component of today’s prevalence in anxiety, depression, and existential angst is the lack of a perceived purpose, drive, or intention for one’s life. By constructing a purposeful intention for the day, we give the day a direction, we infuse some element of personal control to the day that we can work on and feel satisfaction for accomplishing or learning.
So, for me this week before work, some of my intentions were to use the day in service to others, to approach the day with a compassionate mindset, to get out of my own selfish head and focus on being kind, helpful, and compassionate to others. One of my intentions was to watch my mind all day, to watch my thoughts and see how I react to certain situations. Essentially, my intention was to be mindful and to practice meditation throughout the day and see where that took me.
Simple hacks like this can really make a different in how you approach your day or your work. It gives a clear focus for what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. It can drive you to grow in new ways and to develop healthier mindsets and reactions to others and events in our lives. I think most importantly, it gives the day a goal and a purpose. Our psychology and our reward systems are rigged in such a way that having clear goals, however small, and accomplishing them are intrinsically satisfying and fulfilling. These first two morning rituals are simple and can be done while you are taking a shower or making breakfast or whatever so that is great.
The third habit I have started doing is to make sure I take some time in the morning for me. For so long, I used to get up and just give myself enough time to take a quick shower, get dressed and leave for work. I wouldn’t even take time to make breakfast, I would just drink a breakfast drink on the way to work and that would be it. The thing is, when we get up and immediately rush to get out the door, we start the day off in a state of rushed tension. We condition the day for more strain and stress when we start it by rushing in this manner.
Even waking up 15-30 minutes earlier can help set a much more manageable pace for your morning. This is good in two ways. One, it helps slow down the pace of your morning routine and eases the strain of your mind and body first thing in the morning. And two, it can allow for some downtime in the morning, like before work, to do something you want to do or something that you might find helpful. For me, this downtime that is created in the morning is filled with either meditation, going to the gym, or going for a simple walk. I will say that going for a walk while listening to music or an encouraging podcast does wonders for my mentality for that day. Giving yourself time in the morning to do something you enjoy can really help cultivate a much more appreciative, calming mentality that can last all day, at least it has worked for me.
So that’s it, these are three simple routines you can begin to incorporate in the mornings to make your day go a little easier and smoother. These have helped me out gradually and these routines should be part of a prolonged discipline that we work on if you want to see real, lasting results. That’s just my own personal take, you can always find other morning hacks and add them as part of your routine. Whatever works for you, I just thought I would share what has worked for me so far. Thanks for reading and I really do hope this helps you out or at least gives you some encouragement to pursue your own morning rituals. Happy growing! 🙂