The five things I do to have a mindful start to my day
The way you start your morning sets the tone for your entire day. Yes, this means hitting the snooze button multiple times before finally emerging, and then rushing around like a dervish, isn’t the best way to set yourself up for success.
Ultimately, you can only control your own “energy bubble” — or how you choose to behave and react to the things happening around you.
Starting your day with a peaceful yet productive mindset will help you embrace that aura for the next 24 hours. Here are the five things I do to have a mindful start to my day and why you should do the same.
1. I Move My Body
The list of exercise benefits could probably fill a book longer than “Infinite Jest.” The human body was designed for regular movement. Think of inactivity like leaving a car sitting undriven for months. The seals and gaskets become brittle, and your fuel lines get gummy — the same thing happens to your musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems.
I love beginning my day with a few minutes of gentle yoga. This mindful form of stretching eases any mental tension — my to-do list can wait for 15 minutes. It also eases away the stiffness that can creep into joints overnight, especially if you have any of the various arthritis forms.
Although it isn’t always the first thing I do, depending on the time of year, I also like to get my heart pumping before I dive into my workday. A brisk walk or run gets the blood flowing to my brain, waking up my neurons far more effectively than coffee — although I have nothing at all against the magical bean.
2. I Meditate on Gratitude
Your attitude influences everything from how other people treat you to your career trajectory. Few people enjoy working with the office Negative Nancy, and being too much of a downer could result in negative performance reviews that further depress your mood.
I find it useful to cultivate positive feelings to adjust my mindset for the day. Gratitude is my go-to. No matter how dark my world may seem, I can always find something to be thankful for — even simple things like waking up with my cat purring next to my head.
I let this feeling flood my being, recognizing where I experience it in my body. If I have trouble turning my thoughts in this direction, such as when I’m facing an ongoing problem in my life, I turn to a free guided version on YouTube to lead my mental space toward the positive.
3. I Nourish Myself
You might have heard the wisdom that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Fueling myself light and right helps energize me until lunch, staving off distracting hunger pangs that interrupt my flow.
What’s the best morning meal? You don’t want anything too heavy, as digestion takes energy — that’s one reason you feel so sleepy after a heavy Thanksgiving feast. The best a.m. snacks provide both protein and fiber to regulate your blood sugar levels and keep you going strong until lunch. An example might be a hard-boiled egg with a cup of oatmeal or a non-dairy Greek yogurt parfait with nuts and berries.
4. I Make Grooming Pleasurable
I used to resent the time it took me to get ready for the office. I’ve never cared much about my appearance, and having to put on the appropriate “suit” — even if that meant “business casual” — would grind my gears something fierce. As a knowledge worker, wasn’t I getting paid for what I could do, not my wardrobe choices, which admittedly tend toward the comfier, the better?
Working from home, ironically enough, helped me transform a chore I once hated into a pleasure. I use it as an extension of my mindful gratitude practice. For example, the for-profit insurance industry hasn’t yet gotten savvy to science and recognized that problems with your mouth could lead to even costlier ailments like heart disease and Alzheimer’s later in life. As a result, many Americans go without the dental care they need. I try to generate a feeling of gratitude for still having teeth every time I brush.
I also use this time to check in with myself and how I’m feeling. If I’m a little grumpy on any given day, spending a little extra time making myself look nice improves my mood. I consider it a nurturing act of self-care.
5. I Tell My Loved Ones I Care
Our relationships make life worth living. After all, what good is all the money or accomplishments in the world if you have nobody with whom to share them?
I live by the rule to never leave home without telling my family that I care. It takes next to no time at all — but it improves everyone’s outlook. You never know what life has in store, so make your parting words those of kindness and love.
Do These 5 Things to Have a Mindful Start to Your Day
The way you start your day colors your next 24 hours of life. Do these five things to make yours begin mindfully.