‘Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life’ – Mark Twain
We all want to start every day in a good mood! So what simple things can we do to help make this a reality? Think about the days that you felt grumpy or you struggled to get out of bed – chances are you carried that with you for the rest of the day. What about the days you woke up feeling refreshed and full of energy? The probability is they turned out to be positive days.
How you sleep and what you do first thing in the morning has a big impact on the whole day. Even the days we are dreading can be made more positive by just a few simple tweaks. We’ll come back to sleep another time but, for now, lets look at the little things we can do first thing in the morning.
Don’t hit the snooze button!
I am massively guilty of this one but snoozing your alarm really isn’t a great way to start your day and is actually quite likely to make you feel lethargic all day. Your brain knows that you’re not going to go back into a deep sleep, so all you will do is doze and then end up feeling worse than if you’d got up straightaway.
Even worse, it is likely to affect your ability to go to sleep at night because your body gets confused about what time it is supposed to be waking up and going to sleep. Poor sleep can lower your immunity (meaning you are more likely to catch colds and stomach bugs), increase inflammation in your body (which increases the risk of serious health problems) and raise your stress levels (resulting in irritability, poor focus and adversely affecting relationships).
We’ve looked at the biggest thing first so, if we only make one tweak, this should be it but the rest are way easier, I promise!
Do a body scan
Checking in with your body helps you to wake up gently and feel present and centred. Surprisingly we can hold tension whilst we sleep so doing a body scan enables you to find and release this.
There are plenty of body scan meditations you can listen to, some designed specifically for the morning. These are really good at helping you to focus, especially if you haven’t done it before, but you can do it without them too. Start by noticing how your body feels as you lay on your bed, preferably on your back. Take some slow, deep breaths – breathe in for a count of 4 and out for 8. Then, beginning with your toes and moving up your body towards your head, just notice how each part feels – tense, relaxed, painful, etc. You don’t need to do anything, just notice and acknowledge each part of your body and how it feels. Don’t worry if your mind starts to wander, it’s normal! Just bring it back and carry on with the scan.
Some people like to do this at night as part of their winding down for sleep routine and find that they sleep better as a result. Studies have shown that doing a daily body scan, regardless of time of day, helps reduce tension which has a positive impact on levels of stress and anxiety and also decreases chronic pain.
Look at something bright and cheerful in your bedroom
If you can, hang a brightly coloured picture opposite your bed. Something that makes you smile and feel positive. This can really help you start the day in a positive way. If that’s not possible, try a bright cushion, ornament or even a brightly coloured dressing gown on the back of your door, anything that gives you a burst of colour and cheer.
Tell yourself that today is going to be a good day
This is the simplest and quickest tweak by far. All you do is tell yourself that you are going to have a positive day. For me, the second I put my feet on the floor, I say ‘Today is going to be a good day’. That’s it. Takes less than 5 seconds. By linking it to something else (putting my feet on the floor), I’ve made it a habit. If you simply choose to do it when you wake up, that might not be specific enough to make it a daily habit and you could easily forget so try to link it to something.
Have a glass of water before you get up
Your body loses fluid overnight so having a big glass of water is a great way to start the day and provides instant energy as you rehydrate yourself. Drinking plenty of water flushes the toxins out of your body which has plenty of health benefits and helps keep your skin looking good. It’s also great for the brain which is made up of 75% water which is why one of the first signs of morning dehydration is that groggy, can’t get up feeling many of us have.
In the summer I fill an insulated bottle with cold water at night and take it to bed with me so that the water is still cold in the morning. In winter, I fill it with boiling water and by the morning it is the perfect temperature.
Let the daylight in (or fake it if you need to)
Daylight is great for helping you to wake up and feel more positive. It also helps ensure your circadian rhythm is working well which should help you fall asleep more easily at night.
Ideally open the curtains or blinds and let in the daylight. If that isn’t possible because of the time you have to get up, for example, then there are clocks you can buy with daylight simulators. I use the Lumie body clock which gently wakes me in those dark winter months.
Get some fresh air
Opening the window first thing in the morning and letting in the fresh air is a great way to start the day in a positive frame of mind. Cold air is refreshing and invigorating but, whatever the temperature, you’ll feel more optimistic and your concentration and productivity levels will increase.
Try leaning out of your window and just watching the world go by for a few minutes. Think about what you can see and hear. Do nothing other than observe and this stillness and contentment will help put you in the right frame of mind for the day.
Take some deep breaths
Most of us don’t tend to think much about breathing. It happens without us really noticing. But more and more people are discovering that taking deep breaths is really beneficial and helps you to relax by sending messages to your brain to calm down. Simply taking a few deep breaths can actually reduce anxiety, stress and depression significantly.
First thing in the morning, deep breathing has an additional benefit as it also helps us to feel energised and refreshed, ready for the day ahead. Bringing our breathing under control not only enhances mental wellbeing but also supports physical health by strengthening the immune system.
There are lots of breathing videos on Youtube to help get started.
Do some stretches
Stretching first thing in the morning helps to relieve any tension or pain you have in your body. If you’ve slept in the same position all night the chances are your muscles will have tightened up so stretching releases the tension and wakes them up. By doing this we can help avoid injury, increase your mobility and help prevent aches and pains such as lower back pain caused by sitting at a desk or in a car for hours at a time. It also helps increase blood flow and prepares your body for the day.
Make your bed
Although it might not seem worth it, after all who is going to see, you might be surprised to know that whether you make your bed or not can actually set the tone for the entire day. It’s a small thing but it is still an accomplishment and will give you a tiny sense of pride which you then carry with you. It doesn’t have to be hotel corners, but just plumping up the pillows and pulling the covers up (or folding back the duvet so that your bed can air) actually feels good!
In a survey, it was discovered that only a quarter of adults make their bed every day. However, studies show that those who do are more optimistic, enjoy their jobs more, exercise more frequently and sleep better. As a result of these positive actions, they are also less stressed.
According to Charles Duhigg in his book ‘The Power of Habit’, making your bed daily becomes a habit which then kicks off a chain of other positive actions and good decision making. This continues throughout the day and helps create the sense that you are in control of your life.
Get dressed (in something that makes you feel good)
It might be tempting sometimes to stay in your PJs or to put on those old baggy jog bottoms and stained t-shirt but if you do, it will seriously impact your mood, resulting in low energy and poor motivation.
Getting dressed can actually set the mood for the day giving you a focus and a plan and helping you to feel more engaged, productive, optimistic and enthusiastic. It is thought to benefit our mental health by having a positive impact on mood, confidence and behaviour.
Never save clothes for best! Every day, wear something that makes you feel good, preferably something bright, even on the days you are at home and aren’t expecting to see anyone. One idea is to imagine that a friend who always looks great turns up unexpectedly. Would you be embarrassed by what you are wearing? If so, take it to the charity shop! The only exception is if you are doing something dirty like gardening or painting or taking your car to bits, in which case old clothes might be the better option!
Several of these things are now daily habits for me. Saying ‘Today is going to be a good day’, letting the daylight in and making my bed are all simple, super quick things I’m now doing regularly. I’m also opening my window and taking some deep breaths while I watch the world go by outside which ticks two of the suggestions in one go! Drinking water first thing is something I’ve been doing for a while and have definitely noticed a difference. Others I need to work on! Not hitting snooze is going to be my main focus this week and I’m also going to make sure I always dress as if I am expecting a visitor! Those old clothes are going to the charity shop!
I hope you’ve found something there that has inspired you! Maybe you’ll try several things or just one at a time. Maybe you already do most of them, in which case well done! Of course the best way to start the day off well is to have had a good nights sleep so we’ll definitely be coming back to that in another blog! We’ll also think about how we can drink more water throughout the day, stretch for health and happiness and why what you wear influences how you feel.
Until next time xx
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