By Health Coach and founder of Peppermint Wellness, Suzy Glaskie.
What’s the first thing you hear in the morning? What’s the first thing you reach for? You may not have paid much attention to these in the past… but you’d be surprised how much impact they have on the rest of your day.
Personally speaking, I used to start my morning by being rudely awaken by my radio alarm clock and a news bulletin (never a jolly introduction to the day). You might think that there’s no problem with that…but it’s actually setting ourselves up for stress and anxiety. You see, in those first moments of coming into the waking world, our brain is super susceptible and vulnerable: if we immediately bombard it with news of financial meltdown and death tolls, we’re immediately catapulted into a state of stress. Not an ideal way to begin our day!
Since I’ve changed how I start my morning, I’ve noticed that I’m far more emotionally resilient, no matter what the day throws at me. With just a few simple tweaks to your first few minutes of the day, you can experience the most remarkable improvement in your wellbeing. The trick, though, is to make it a habit – doing it once or twice isn’t going to make much difference. It might take a bit of perseverance initially as you adapt to a new way of starting the day, but stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with more calm, balance and focus in your life.
You may have found yourself with extra time if you’ve been liberated from your usual morning commute, so now is a golden opportunity to try putting a morning self-care practice into place that will really help set the tone for your day.
You could start by taking just three minutes to focus on your breathing or do some gentle stretches. The key is to allow yourself that mindful time to check in with yourself before you launch yourself onto your phone and check your updates/emails/the news.
Doing a mindfulness practice first thing will help you manage anxiety (there are loads of apps you can try – I do the Calm app’s Daily Calm in the morning). You could also keep a gratitude journal by your bed and write down three things that you’re grateful for. Research has shown that this is a highly effective, easy, quick way to increase your positivity, reduce anxiety and generally improve your emotional and physical health.
And, when you do grab your phone, how about watching a couple of minutes of comedy (I like Michael McIntyre’s YouTube videos). Laughing will encourage the release of happy hormones and set you up for feeling joyful and positive.
It’s really helpful to expose your eyes to daylight first thing as this will help set your circadian (24 hour) rhythm so you’re more likely to sleep better at night. Maybe you could take your morning cup of tea or coffee and have it outside rather than in your kitchen. Spending even a couple of minutes looking at the sky and the trees (if you’re lucky enough to see any) is instantly calming. If it’s not too cold, you might also consider putting your bare feet on the ground, which connects us to the Earth’s energy.
It’s also worth considering how you could build a ritual around your morning shower. One of my favourite practices is taking some nice body oil and rubbing some mindfully into each bit of my body, thanking each bit as I go along eg. my feet for grounding me, my legs for allowing me to walk etc. Taking up no more than a minute or two, this is a really powerful way of connecting with our body and honouring how blessed we are to have it. It also helps us to focus on the positive aspects of our body rather than ruminating on the surface imperfections we might get hung up on!
Don’t feel overwhelmed by all the options. Start tiny with your morning routine (three minutes is a whole lot better than nothing!). Once you’re doing that consistently, you can look at gradually adding on additional practices. Play around with it and personalise it according to what works for you.
Here’s to starting our days as we mean to go on – with honouring our body and giving ourselves the gift of calm.