- Alice Bull
How to start your day on a positive note
How many of us start the day with the startle of an alarm clock followed by the thoughts of all the challenges we face that day?
As William Vanderbloemen writes in his article for Forbes about successful entrepreneurs and their morning routines, "How you start your day will affect how the rest of your day goes".
Starting the morning on a positive note will set the tone for a more successful day, improving your confidence, boosting your performance and increasing your productivity. Many of us are not even aware of the amount of stress we accumulate before leaving home for a busy and demanding day of work.
Dr Rangan Chatterjee writes in his book "The Stress Solution" about the Micro Stress Doses that we experience each day even before we have set foot out of the house.
Imagine waking up to a loud alarm clock, turning over and checking your phone. First you see several texts you haven't replied to the night before, then you might see a notification about a news disaster, then you hear the kids fighting, the dog starts to bark and before you know it, your mind and body are thrown into a state of high alert and stress.
Not a great way to start the day! You are more likely to arrive at work feeling stressed and anxious and reactive to demands put on you.
Here are 9 things you can do to help kick-start your day in a positive way:
1. DEVELOP A GOOD BEDTIME ROUTINE
The quality of your day starts with a good night's sleep. Waking up feeling exhausted and lethargic makes it very difficult to plan for a productive day.
Our circadian rhythm is the natural internal body clock that regulates our sleeping and waking cycle approximately every 24 hours. Developing a regular sleeping pattern helps to stabilise your circadian rhythm so that your body goes to sleep and wakes at roughly the same time each day. When this happens, you find yourself waking with more energy and positivity.
2. WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS THE NIGHT BEFORE
Having a clear plan of what you want to achieve the next day can start your day off more productively. It clears your mind for a peaceful sleep and helps you focus the next day on the tasks you need to complete by the end of the day. Make sure you keep your task list manageable and realistic.
3. WAKE UP 1O MINUTES EARLY
Give yourself some 'me' time first thing in the morning. You can use this time, perhaps before the rest of the household wakes, to relax, calm your mind and focus on what you wish to achieve for the day. You may want to listen to an inspiring podcast or read some positive quotes to set the tone for the day.
4. FOCUS ON POSITIVE THOUGHTS FIRST THING
As Neuropsychologist Donald Hebb said back in 1949, "Neurons that fire together, wire together".
What he meant by this was that the neural pathways in the brain are formed and strengthened through repetition. Our thoughts create emotions and as we have total control over our thoughts, we can influence the emotions we feel and steer ourselves towards a positive mindset.
By focusing on positive thoughts first thing in the morning, even if you don't feel like it and need to fake it, you can start to build more positive neural pathways in the brain which, in turn, will create a regular, happier pattern of thoughts.
5. AVOID REACHING FOR YOUR PHONE
The temptation to reach over from bed first thing and just check to see if your friend has replied to your text or read the latest news headlines can be overwhelming. However, this can cause heightened anxiety, especially if that friend hasn't replied or you see your inbox has filled up overnight with urgent tasks.
If you can, put your bed to sleep in a room other than the bedroom. Have a charging station downstairs, out of arm's reach, reduces the temptation to glance at our phone upon waking.
6. PRACTICE A BREATHING TECHNIQUE
Waking up in a stressful manner can influence how we breathe. As part of our own natural 'fight or flight' stress response, our body will identify any stressor as a threat and will start to make our breathing more shallow.
Take time to notice how you are breathing, then, place your hands behind your head to open out your chest. Slowly inhale through the nose for the count of three, hold your breath for the count of five and then exhale for the count of six. This exercise will start to slow your heart rate down and calm your breathing, leaving your more relaxed.
7. RELAX YOUR BODY
Simple tension release exercises, practiced in Sophrology, can help to energise the body and reduce tightness in the muscles caused by stress. You might like to practice some yoga or basic stretching exercises.
Inhale through your nose, then lift your arms straight up in the air above your head, interlace your fingers and stretch up. Then tense all the muscles in your body whilst you hold your breath for the count of five. Next, exhale slowly, bringing your arms down by your sides and breathe out any tension. Repeat this three times.
8. GET MOVING
Exercise is a wonderful way to stimulate the body's own natural positive hormones. When we exercise, our body releases endorphins which are the chemicals produced naturally by our bodies to cope with pain or stress. Endorphins are often referred to as 'happy hormones' because they can reduce pain and boost positivity.
Building exercise into your daily morning routine can help start the day off on a good note. Whether it is getting off the bus a stop early and walking to the office, going for a run before leaving the house or dancing around the kitchen whilst the coffee brews, all these forms of exercise boost your mood for the day.
9. PRACTICE SOPHROLOGY
Sophrology is often referred to as 'dynamic meditation'. By relaxing our bodies, calming our minds and focusing on positive thoughts and emotions, Sophrology can help you be more present in your body so that you can recognise how you are feeling and empower yourself to think more optimistically.
Sophrology combines so many powerful mind and body techniques all in one exercise, so you can get the benefit of developing a toolkit that will help you sleep better, wake up more refreshed and plan your day ahead with positive anticipation.
Productive days don't happen by chance. You may not control your destiny for the day but you do control the first few hours upon waking. Starting your day on a positive note will help you take on any challenges more constructively and decisively.