Prep the night before
Feel more prepared for your day by picking out your clothes, reviewing your schedule, and prepping lunch and snacks the night before.
Sometimes getting dressed is an ordeal. When work doesn’t come with a uniform, it is a good idea to choose your outfit (or maybe a second choice) the night before. Knowing my wardrobe is taken care of and that I won’t end up wearing 2 different shoes because I am running late always helps me sleep more peacefully.
Reviewing your personal schedule and your family’s schedule helps to make sure that you have everything you need and that there will be no last minute surprises.
Prepping food the night before helps us to make better choices. When rushed in the morning, sometimes we choose things that are easy, pre-packaged, or just decide to eat out. By choosing to make our food as part of evening kitchen clean up, it is easier to make healthy snacks and lunches.
Control your evening to help keep chaos out of your morning! Once you integrate these into your evening routine, you will not be able to imagine going to bed without these things done!
Leave your phone OUT of your bedroom
This may sound like it would not make a huge impact, but ask yourself these questions:
Do I use my cell phone in the 30 minutes before bed?
Do I check my phone for messages/alerts in the middle of the night?
Do I check my email/Facebook before getting out of bed in the morning?
Do I sleep with my phone IN my bed?
If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, you are probably addicted to your cell phone. Each of these questions targets an area of your health.
If you use your cell phone before bed or during the night, the type of blue light that it emits reduces melatonin production, the hormone that helps you sleep.
If you are checking your email or Facebook before even getting out of bed, you are not taking space and time for yourself and allowing yourself to fully wake up in the morning before you permit stress to enter your life. Work stress, in particular is pervasive and we allow it to invade our lives outside of office time. Did you know that in France a law allows workers to refrain from checking work email outside of office hours.
If you sleep with your phone in your bed, consider the low levels of radiation that phones emit and how close you are to your phone throughout the day. We don’t have longitudinal studies regarding the effects of cell phones on health.
If you must have your phone in your room because you are on call, you may want to designate a “phone bowl” near your bedroom door. This way you have to get out of bed to answer the phone or check notifications and are minimizing your interaction at night.
Get up at the same time, daily
We are creatures of habit. Our bodies fall into a circadian rhythm and this requires consistency. By getting up at the same time every day (yes, even weekends) we are signaling our brains to our routine and are more likely to sleep soundly. The time that is best for you may not be the same time that works for me. Some people naturally stay up later and need to sleep later as a result. Others are early riser, naturally. Tune into what your body does best with and start getting up at a set time. Check out this Article for some more tips on sleeping better.
Getting up at the same time each day also helps our morning routine by making sure that we always have the same amount of time to get things done before leaving the house or starting work. It is easier to be punctual when you have a steady routine.
Visualize your best self
Each night before I go to bed, I have a second alarm set. This alarm is not set for me to sleep longer. Instead, when my first alarm goes off, I sit up and meditate for 10 minutes using visualization. For those 10 minutes, I begin by picturing my body in perfect health, then what it feels like to be supremely happy. When I have both of these in my head, I combine them to form my “Best Self”.
To be perfectly honest, some days I do not get as far as my “Best Self”. Some days I struggle with what my body feels like or I take a long time to find supreme happiness. No matter what, though, I stop when my alarm goes off. The mental discipline that it takes to consistently meditate is beneficial to our overall happiness. In fact, my husband has often noted that I must have skipped meditation when my fuse is shorter in the morning. Dr. Joe Dispenza has some fabulous information about visualization. Check out his website for more information about his books, speaking engagements, etc or follow him on Facebook.
Oil pulling has been performed for centuries and comes from Aryurvedic medicine. The theory is that you use a tablespoon of coconut oil (or another vegetable oil like grapeseed) in your mouth first thing in the morning (before taking anything by mouth) and swish it as you would mouthwash for 15-20 minutes. This is followed by rinsing, flossing, and brushing as normal. As you perform this, the oil, which is naturally antimicrobial, helps to lower the bacterial and viral load in your mouth and, therefore, your body. While there is not a ton of research that has been done, many people report whiter teeth, fresher breath. I notice that when I oil pull regularly that I have less tartar on my teeth.
A word to the wise, a tablespoon of coconut oil is a lot and it does take a minute or so to fully melt in your mouth. I usually use more like a teaspoon because my mouth isn’t that big! When you are done, spit the used oil into the garbage to avoid clogging your drains. I also had to work up to my 15-20 minutes, my jaw got way too tired at the start.
This technique is hitting the mainstream with even WebMD talking about its benefits.
Sun Salutation or stretching/movement
Gentle movement in the morning is important. By taking our bodies, which have been still for hours of sleep, through a series of stretches or yoga poses, we can work out the kinks and feel more flexible and healthy throughout the day.
I choose to start my days with a series of yoga sun salutations. This simple series of movements helps me to lengthen my muscles and spine while keeping my focus inward.
Try watching a few sun salutation videos and working with a yoga instructor on your form before doing this on your own. A textbook sun salutation looks like this.
Some other great things to help get you moving in the morning include lying on the floor and gently pulling knees in to chest, rocking side to side or doing range of motion stretches.What types of exercises or stretches are right vary from person to person. Check in with your chiropractor, yoga instructor, massage therapist, or physical therapist for ideas of stretches that are beneficial for your body.
Choose tea over coffee
I know, you love your coffee. The jolt of caffeine first thing in the morning helps many people face the day. Here is what I propose. If you take your morning into your own hands and work on these steps, you will not need the jolt of caffeine associated with coffee. The caffeine in coffee enters the system quickly and only lasts 5 hours, maximum. Tea, on the other hand, is more time release with caffeine stimulating your system for around 10 hours. Also, when you only drink coffee sporadically, the jolt that you get from it packs more of a punch. I generally only drink coffee on travel days when I am at the airport. These days, that extra push of caffeine is beneficial for me.
For a more detailed description of this, check out this blog.
Sit down while you eat breakfast
Standing while we eat is a poor habit to get into. Sitting down we eat more slowly and digest our food better. Breakfast is an important meal, when we take time to appreciate it, it becomes an indispensable part of the morning. You are less likely to search for morning snacks in the office kitchen when you have consciously eaten a healthy breakfast. While I sit down for breakfast, I work on my gratitude journal (see below)
Focusing on gratitude sets a tone for our day and helps to stay more focused. I wrote about this more completely around Thanksgiving. Taking time for gratitude reminds me when things are rough of just how much I have that is good in my life. Bullet journaling is a great way to focus on your gratitude.
Hug someone you love/spend time with a pet
Physical contact with another person or creature has innumerable health benefits. This article from Mind Body Green talks about the benefits of 8 hugs per day. At the same time, spending time with your pet (or your neighbor’s) increases your serotonin levels and improves our feelings of well-being.
It wouldn’t hurt to combine these two things, too…
These are all things that are part of my daily routine. I work to create a morning of mindfulness that helps me focus and enter my day ready to meet its challenges with a smile. Please let me know how you feel about these ideas and if you have routines of your own that help keep your mornings smooth and happy!