10 Ways to Wake Up Your Mornings
1. Get Up.
How often do you find yourself completely uninterested in getting up once your alarm goes off? There’s a reason why this happens so often. It’s not so much that you’re so tired (although if you’ve gotten less than 7 hours of sleep that may be the case), but that you have been lying flat for hours, and your blood pressure is very low. So if you compel yourself to get up, your blood pressure will rise and you will feel awake soon after. (Even if you haven’t gotten enough sleep! Trust me on this: as a midwife I routinely wake from very little sleep to see patients, and I’m always amazed at how alert I feel once I just get up.)
2. Choose an Early Morning Affirmation.
Even after you get up, it’s easy to think, “Ugh, I’m so tired. ” At least it is for me. So when that happens, I try to catch myself and say instead, “It’s going to be a great day.” The morning improves instantly. I highly recommend you do the same. Your affirmation doesn’t have to be anything profound. It just has to be something that gives you a little boost and sets a positive intention for the hours ahead.
3. Brush Your Body Too.
Along with brushing my teeth there’s another practice that I do every morning as a part of my personal hygiene: dry body brushing.
Dry brushing is a great tool for detoxification (your lymphatic system is stimulated and dead skin is removed, making way for better oxygenation) and leaves you feeling totally energized. You can buy a body brush in any natural foods store and instructions will come with the brush.
4. Define Your Day.
I love this quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “Each morning sees some task begin, Each evening sees it close; Something attempted, something done, Has earned a night’s repose.”
Be like Longfellow (yes, I said “be like Longfellow”) and define your day by asking yourself, “If I could only get one task done today, what would be most satisfying?” Then make sure you carve out at least 15 minutes in the day to work on it. The earlier in your day you act the better, because you are more likely to get it done, and the satisfaction of having it done will give you a great feeling for the rest of the day.
5. Be here now.
Now that you’ve set your #1 priority for the day and planned the time to do it, let go of the sense that you must hurry and stress. Keep in mind this advice from Thich Nhat Hanh: “Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.”
Your point of power is always in the present moment – you can plan in the present moment, you can act in the present moment, but when you are anxious or worried your attention is no longer in the present.
Bring your attention back to the present moment with a simple yoga posture called mountain pose. This is actually a perfect centering practice any time you are stressed, especially when you find yourself waiting impatiently for anything (the water to boil) or anyone (your small child as he decides which underpants to wear).
Sit or stand tall. Feel the lift through the center of your body, from the base of your hips through the crown of your head. Close your eyes and let go of the sights and sounds around you. Deepen your breath and feel the flow of your inhalation and exhalation. Feel the quiet centering and balance that comes into your mind as you breathe. If you want an extra boost, raise your arms above your head and stretch your arms up to the sky.
6. Set the Tone.
Try answering these questions to help set a positive tone for the day.
Who: Who do I want to be?
How: How do I want to feel?
Why: Why am I visualizing my day as I am? If I am feeling anxious and stressed, can I re-imagine things in a more positive light?
I’ve written before of the value of listening to your wise inner self. In order to hear it you must allow for some quiet on a daily basis. So first thing in the morning, be quiet and listen. If you are short on time, even one minute is enough. In that quiet space you are most likely to hear the messages from deep in your soul.
Yes, I recommend daily exercise. I know sufficient health benefits come from exercise only 3 times a week, but if you exercise every other day it’s so much easier to say, “You know, I just don’t feel like it today. I’ll do it tomorrow.” When you do something daily you get into the mode of saying, “This is what I do.”
After you’ve elevated your heart rate for at least 15 minutes your brain is drenched with feel-good endorphins. It doesn’t matter what you do – you could do jumping jacks in your kitchen – but significantly raising your heart rate for at least 15 minutes a day is what’s important. And of course morning exercise allows you to enjoy all these benefits throughout the day.
9. Wash Your Cares Away.
As you bathe, take deep cleansing breaths and imagine that the stress from your fears, worries, and problems is flowing away, out of your body, down the drain. When you release the tension that results from emotional stress, you will manage your concerns and challenges more effectively.
10. Eat (or Drink) Breakfast.
You probably know all the reasons why breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? I always break my fast with freshly juiced beets, celery, kale, lemon, apple and lots of ginger. The fruits and vegetables have tons of vitamins and enzymes and many energizing and detoxifying benefits.
Then a little later I eat something high in fiber, like oatmeal or a banana. They fill me up and boost production of serotonin, a “happy” hormone that plays a key role in relieving stress.
Again, you do not need to adopt all of these practices, but if you incorporate even just a few of them into your daily routine, I bet you will feel more energized and happy in the morning and the positive effects will last for the rest of the day. And if you keep them up day after day, then guess what? You will have lived a happy life!
Stacey Curnow works as a certified nurse-midwife in North Carolina, and over more than 15 years her career has taken her from western Indian reservations to a center-city Bronx hospital to the mountains of southwestern Mexico.
She has been an enthusiastic student of positive psychology for years and applies it to her midwifery and life coaching practices with great success. You can find out more about her services at www.midwifeforyourlife.com.
She is the creator of a thriving blog and many of her articles have been published in print magazines and online.
She lives in Asheville, NC with her husband, young son, and Ruby the wonder chicken.