A Stress-Free Day Begins with a Good Morning

In both my personal life and my coaching practice I am a firm believer that how you start your day dictates how the rest of your day will be.

In an earlier post we talked about the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. If you’ve followed the suggestions, by now you have experienced blissful hours in dreamland. So blissful, perhaps, that maybe you decide a few extra minutes snuggling under the covers are irresistible. Then you realize that you have only 20 minutes to catch the subway and you can’t be late so you skip breakfast, tear a comb through your hair, barrel out the door forgetting your umbrella, and sprint to your stop to make it just in time. But the light rain that was falling turned into a full-on deluge, you arrive at the office not only hungry and cranky but also soaking wet. Needless to say, it’s downhill from there. Sounds like fun, right?

Just kidding.

Worst way to start the morning. Ever. I know because I have been there time after time. You’re probably nodding your head in agreement—because you’ve been there too many times, too. Let’s face it, it’s just too easy to jump mindlessly into a day consequences be damned.

After all, all of us are pressed for time. We put in long hours at work. We pack too many activities/dinners/workout classes/appointments into the week. There’s always one more website to check when we comparison shop. Some of you schedule kids’ soccer matches and dance classes into the mix. So of course we want to grab a few extra minutes of snooze time every morning. We deserve it.

Actually, we deserve much more. We deserve mornings that give us the frame of mind and the physical stamina we need to move through our complicated days with a sense of serenity and purpose. Like Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings used to sing, “be easy, baby,” we should go gentle in to the morning.

Clients and friends often complain to me that “I am just too busy to take time in the morning to set my day up to be calm.” In response I say, “so what you are telling me is that you do have time or energy to have a totally awful, stressful, no-good, very bad day?” My question gives them something to think about.

They—and you—can have a totally kickass day by establishing a morning routine designed to take the stress and strain out of those early hours. A new routine will take some getting used to, but believe me, it’s well worth the effort.

Let’s talk about some easy ways you can start to shift and make more mindful choices to set your day up for success:

  • Set your alarm for half hour earlier than your usual time. Wake up to meditative music or another gentle sound. Use the extra thirty minutes to ease into the new day.
  • Put a soft light on a timer to turn on when your alarm goes off. This is especially important as the days grow shorter and many of us find ourselves waking up in the dark. Start your day with (faux) sunshine!
  • Do light stretches and deep breathing in bed before you get up.
  • Say five things you are grateful for right then, at that very moment, before your feet hit the ground.

Here are five more suggestions for beginning your day without stress and keeping it stress-free:

  1. Skip the electronics. Don’t look at email, texts, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest until you have had time to really BE with yourself. Promise yourself twenty minutes in the morning to check in with yourself, not the world by leaving the electronics off.
  1. I start my day every day with a 20-minute Vedic meditation—right after I’ve rolled out of bed, brushed my teeth, and washed my face. If you take only one suggestion to change your morning, it should be this one. Learning how to meditate is one of the best investments you can make in yourself; the benefits are astounding and include a sense of inner peace, but also an enhanced ability to concentrate, a greater capacity for creativity, and an all-round feeling of well-being. To learn more about the benefits of meditation, the different forms (I highly recommend Vedic or Transcendental Meditation), and for a quick guide to get you started, read what the Mayo Clinic has to say.
  1. Mix a generous squirt of fresh lemon juice into a glass of warm water and drink up. Not only does the water and lemon juice concoction deliver hydration and a healthy dose of Vitamin C, it also aids digestion and, because it’s full of pectin, keeps hunger pangs at bay.
  1. Set a daily intention for yourself. Write it down—or say it aloud while looking squarely in the mirror. Make a commitment to yourself to make one healthy change—have that green juice, green smoothie or salad; take a long walk; cut back on your caffeine intake. You might even decide to try meditating (nudge, nudge). Hold yourself accountable to sticking to your one healthy change.
  1. Begin your morning the night before. Have your outfit for the day on the hanger and ready to grab. Make sure the lemon is on the counter, ready to slice. Prep your lunch and healthy snacks, like carrot or pepper sticks or apple slices, so that you can just grab and go.

Life is precious. Our bodies are our temples. Make sure you have the best day possible by giving yourself and your body the respect they deserve. You deserve to have the best morning ever. Just “be easy, baby!”—and set your groove for the rest day. Namaste. 🙂