How you spend your first waking minutes can benefit you all day long
Your first waking minutes are about clearing the cobwebs of sleep from your mind and getting your brain focused and revved up for the day. How you prep your mind and body during those first minutes is key to putting yourself in the right mindset to take on the challenges and possibilities before you.
By starting your day right, you can maximize your effectiveness, increase your positivity and form good habits that will carry you through the day. The good news is, once we settle into a routine, we’re predisposed to continue doing it out of force of habit. If you can lock in a good morning routine, you’ll naturally begin doing it every day.
Make this 10-minute routine your morning ritual, and you’ll begin every day with your best foot forward. Try these five simple steps to get your morning started.
1. Get hydrated (1 minute).
Even if your brain seems to be screaming for coffee as soon as you open your eyes, what your mind and body really need is some good old H2O. Water does wonders for your health and wellness. An adult body is composed of around 55 to 60 percent water, so making sure you get enough is absolutely vital to ensuring your mind and body function properly. First thing in the morning, your body will be a little dehydrated because you haven’t had anything to drink for eight hours.
Starting the day off by drinking a large glass of water is a great way to replenish the fluids you lost during sleep and help your body feel revitalized. While dehydration leaves you feeling drained and sluggish, guzzling some water after waking up flushes toxins that have built up in your system overnight, and gives your metabolism a little boost. It also helps reduce stomach acidity and reduces symptoms of heartburn.
Some people also swear by drinking water with lemon in it, as the lemon acts as a detoxifying agent and can help maintain digestive health, not to mention giving your body a dose of vitamin C. But either way, starting your day by hydrating is a great way to clear your mind and prep yourself for what comes next.
2. Practice a deep-breathing exercise (1-2 minutes).
Most of the time, we don’t even think about breathing. Our lungs do their thing and inhale/exhale all day long. So why spend a few minutes every morning practicing breathing when it’s something our bodies do naturally?
Research shows that changing our breathing pattern to take six to 10 deep breaths per minute restores balance to our stress-response system. It reduces anxiety and depression, increases energy and strengthens our immune system. Better yet, it improves our mental concentration.
The idea is that our mind and breath mirror each other. A quiet mind leads to quiet breathing. So, when we learn to regulate our breathing, we can influence both our physical and emotional states. If you’re constantly waking up feeling out of sorts and groggy, taking a few minutes to practice deep breathing can help you feel refreshed and energized.
Here is a simple breathing exercise. Start with one to two minutes and work up to longer practices.
- Lie on your back on a flat surface or in bed, with your knees bent and your head supported. You can use a pillow under your knees if you like. Place one hand on your chest and the other just below your rib cage, so you can feel your diaphragm move as you breathe.
- Slowly inhale through your nose, drawing the air into the bottom of your lungs. You should feel your abdomen rise.
- Tighten your stomach muscles and pause for a moment, then exhale through pursed lips.
- Gently blow all of the air out of your lungs. Drawing your belly button toward your spine, push any residual air out of the bottom of your lungs.
- Take about six deep breaths per minute.
3. Stretch and wake up your body (2-3 minutes).
Stretching after sleep instantly makes you feel better and helps your muscles wake up and begin to function more efficiently. Stretching is a simple form of exercise that can help ease muscle tension from the previous day. Doing some simple stretches first thing in the morning can help with muscle tightness and joint stiffness, as well as enhance your circulation and increase overall body flexibility.
These easy morning stretches are a powerful way to give your mind a natural boost and wake up your central nervous system.
- Sit on the edge of your bed with your feet on the floor.
- Slowly bend over, reaching your hands toward your feet.
- Arch your back.
- Hold for a count of 10.
- Remain seated, with your feet on the floor.
- Slowly rotate your neck in a circle, touching your ears to your shoulders.
- Rotate clockwise and counterclockwise several times each way.
- Stand next to your bed.
- Lace your fingers together.
- Raise your hands above your head, palms upward.
- Lift up, stretching your rib cage.
- Hold for a count of 10.
4. Give thanks (3 minutes).
When we take time to give thanks and be grateful for all we have, we’re happier and less anxious, and our relationships improve. Take a few minutes every morning to write down at least one thing you are grateful for in your life.
This could be something as simple as getting a good night’s sleep or feeling grateful for spending time with friends and family. Or it could be something more profound, such as having good health, having food in your refrigerator and never having to worry about going hungry.
There are countless things in our lives that we take for granted. Taking a few minutes every morning to remind yourself of how awesome your life is, even during the bleakest and darkest of times, will instantly flick the positivity switch in your brain. Doing this increases your feelings of connectedness to other people, boosts your feelings of joy and contentment, and lowers your stress and anxiety.
If you need help getting started, here is a three-minute journal that combines a gratitude journal with daily planning. By doing this simple exercise, your mind will feel clear, refreshed and ready to focus.
5. Visualize your daily success (1-2 minutes).
This final step can be done quickly, but it’s the key to moving confidently into your day. Take one or two minutes to imagine the day ahead and all the big and little things you have to accomplish.
As you run through these events in your mind, visualize yourself achieving your major goals for the day. Imagine the work you’ll need to do — the meetings or important phone calls you have in store. In your mind’s eye, see yourself handling any difficult situations with grace and tact, and imagine how you’ll move through your projects efficiently and competently. Imagine yourself staying on task and being productive, knocking out your to-do list and handling whatever may come up.
By simply spending a few minutes visualizing what you want to achieve today and over the long term, you will give yourself a plan to follow in seeing these goals accomplished in real life. Things may not always go as you imagined, but at least you’ll have a roadmap of where you’re going and how you plan to handle different situations.
Make time for this 10-minute morning routine and you’ll find you’re ready to spring into action and delve into all that you need to accomplish every day.