- Isabelle Morley, PsyD
The Mindful Morning: How to Start Your Day Off Right
Start your day off right by being mindful from the moment you wake up until carry that calm presence throughout your day.
Take the Opportunity
Mornings are an opportunity. Every day, you have the chance to re-set your mindset and tackle your day with a different perspective. If yesterday was stressful and chaotic, then let yesterday be that way, and start today fresh.
Your brain and body have had the chance to rest and restore overnight, now you'll have the chance to decide what to do with that renewed energy.
Every day, you have the chance to re-set your mindset and tackle your day with a different perspective.
I know most of us pick up our phones as soon as we hear our alarm beeping. It's almost instinctual at this point to compulsively check our emails and texts. I'd argue it's an addiction that brings us most distress than satisfaction. Do you need to check your email first thing? Are you going to pop up in bed and start sending out responses? And if you do, are those responses going to the most thoughtful and measured?
Instead of leaping to distraction, give yourself a technology break. It's a good idea to do this before bed, too, so that your mind has a chance to unwind and get ready for sleep. Allow your mind the same rest in the morning. Don't activate your brain by scrolling through unanswered texts or skimming every news article. You're allowing this external input from your phone to get your time and attention when you are at your most rested, most relaxed, and most focused. There's a good chance that you'll read something anxiety-provoking and suddenly your heart starts beating faster, starting your day off in an unnecessarily stressful way.
Give yourself an hour off. Make it 30 minutes if a full 60 sounds undoable. I'll even take 15 if that's what you can manage. Just don't impulsively jump to looking at your phone and letting it dictate your mood.
There are so many lovely parts of the morning that we miss.
The quiet surrounding us as the world starts to awaken.
The birds chirping happily.
A beautiful, peaceful sunrise.
The sound of water boiling and the fresh cup of coffee or tea.
Seeing a happy pet wake up to see you, a good morning kiss from your partner, or a
gentle hug from your child as they rub their eyes awake.
How often do you savor these moments? And I mean really savor them, taking in all the goodness and every sensory aspect of them.
We can easily get locked into routine when we spend our lives indoors. This has become even more apparent during the pandemic, where we were trapped inside and lost access to the greater world. One way to not have tunnel vision as you go through your morning is to step outdoors. Take some time to just exist. Close your eyes, smell the fresh air, listen to the animals, and remember that you are part of a larger world.
We can easily get locked into routine when we spend our lives indoors.
Set Your Intentions for the Day...
Mornings offer us the chance to mindfully set our hopes and intentions for the day. There is so much to get done each day, much more than we'll ever be able to accomplish. Instead of pressuring yourself to be as productive as possible, scale back your expectations and prioritize what you need to do.
Is today a day for focusing on work? Do you have meetings that will take precedence over your projects? Will spending time with family and cooking dinner be the main goal for the day? Whatever you decide, set the intention to focus on what you've chosen and be fully present for each activity.
... And Mindfully Complete Them
After you've prioritized your goals for the day, give those tasks your undivided attention. During the workday, allow yourself to be engrossed by work. Don't worry about the laundry you need to start or the appointment you need to schedule. You'll have time for those things later. When you're folding laundry or grocery shopping, be fully present as you complete those tasks. When it's the weekend and you're spending time with family and friends, allow yourself to enjoy those moments and don't worry about work the next day.
Give those tasks your undivided attention.
Moral of the Story: Take Time to do Nothing
Our biggest mistake is moving too quickly. We don't take time to pause, breathe, and make intentional choices. We leap from one task to the next, we spend every spare moment glued to our screens, and life passes by without us realizing it. Mornings are the best opportunity to stop moving so quickly. They are the chance to take a step back from frenzied activity, to see our lives in context of the larger world, and re-set our perspective.