Do you wake up in the morning in a calm, relaxed, fully-invigorated state, ready to attack the day? If so, congratulations. You’re ahead of the game.
For most, it is a little more like a fire drill: a hectic scramble filled with varying degrees of stress and chaos. For others, it feels like coming out of a coma with lethargy: a sense of clearing the fog and dreading the day.
As we are rushing to get ready for the day, our minds are plagued with inner thoughts of what we have to do, where we have to go, what we have to accomplish, and worrying that we are already running late.
Difficult Mornings Become Difficult Days
Stressed and rushed or slow and unproductive, we are starting the day on the wrong foot. When a story starts this way, rarely do we see a magical course-correction where the day suddenly brightens and you feel in control and empowered to better your life. Instead, the poor start often creates a chain reaction of problems and frustrations. Our anxiety spikes. Our energy levels drop. And our ability to think clearly about the choices we are making collapses under the pressure.
Just like it is critical in the twilight hour to create a ritual, habitualizing a routine to align your biological clock to establish high quality sleep, the early morning ritual is equally important to establish the optimal physical and mental state to energize and power your day.
In other words, bedtime routines work, and so do morning routines.
Building Your Model Morning
Page 395 in Your LifeBook has more detail, but for now, I’d like to challenge you to build a model morning routine from the following pieces:
- Awake – After getting your recommended amount of sleep (so set your bedtime accordingly), either wake up naturally or use a Natural Dawn Simulator Alarm Clock to ease you out of your sleep. Alarm clocks are fine, but the temptation to use the snooze button and the spike of stress a blaring buzzer causes can disrupt your morning routine. Once you’re awake, open the blinds and drapes immediately to let in sunlight.
- Calm – This is the period of time where you align your body and your mind to a state of peace, calm, and clarity of purpose. This allows you to reflect on why you are improving your habits and your relationships, as well as setting the right tone for your day. Mindfulness meditation is a great way to build this calm.
- Desired Outcome – Once you are centered and in control, you can start visualizing what your day will look like, what you will accomplish, and the priorities you will focus on. Depending on how much time you have, it’s always good to read something that will help with your personal or spiritual growth.
- Motion – Active movement will give you up to 12 hours of improved focus, mood, and energy. As little as 20 minutes is the equivalent of a dose of Ritalin and Prozac in improving your mental and physical state, so do some yoga, walk on the treadmill, or do some bodyweight exercises to reap these rewards.
- Self-Care – This is when you conclude your model hour with a hot shower directed to your neck and back, as well as brushing and flossing your teeth. During this period, visualize and smile as you anticipate an amazing day ahead and express gratitude for everything around you. Get dressed, and then eat your first healthy fueling of the day.
- Ready – At this point, you have preemptively prepared your thoughts, emotions, energy, priorities, and direction so you can have an optimal day.
All of these steps should take you an hour or less each morning, so plan your day accordingly.
Don’t Give Up on Your Model Morning
If your typical morning is the fire drill I described earlier, the model morning I just outlined can seem out of reach. After all, how can you spend an hour on yourself when you barely get to work on time as it is? Well, your Habits of Healthy Sleep are the first place to start so that you can wake up refreshed and energized, but like all Habits of Health, a model morning will take practice.
But it’s worth the work because it makes every day more enjoyable and more likely to move you toward your goals.