By Adrian Drew, founder of Yugen, a blog about mental health and self-improvement.
The way you spend your time in the morning sets the mood for the rest of your day. Start your day the right day by implementing the following habits into your routine.
Get up early
“It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.”
The morning is indeed the most important part of your day. As psychologist Ron Friedman claims, the way you spend the first three hours of your day will determine how successful your entire life is. When we hit the snooze button and go back on our promises to wake up early in the morning, we set ourselves up for a bad day.
We let ourselves down. We feel guilty for having stayed in bed late and for wasting hours of our time. We awake feeling sluggish, rushing about the day trying to complete tasks that we could have finished before lunchtime if we’d have just got up a little earlier.
“Lose an hour in the morning and you will be all day hunting for it.”
~ Richard Whately
Many people attempt to wake up early and fail, but it all comes down to just one simple principle. You have to be prepared to endure just a few minutes of pain, then you’ll feel fine.
Your alarm rings at 6am and your body feels tired. You have two options – to silence your phone and claim three extra hours of sleep, or to get up, put up with just a few minutes of feeling tired, and then reap the rewards of your decision for the rest of your day.
Now, rolling over and going back to sleep may feel comfortable and nice, but it is entirely detrimental to your success, mental health and wellbeing. Here are just a few problems with staying in bed after your alarm starts ringing:
- By promising to get up early and instead staying in bed late, you are lying to yourself. You create a discordance in your mind and perpetuate a state of internal conflict. Would it not be better to stick to your goals and be true to your values?
- When you make the decision to get up early the next morning, you are in a sound, calm mental state. When you awake in the morning, you’re tired, sluggish and still half-asleep, and therefore not in the right mind to make decisions. This is exactly the reason that many people choose to stay in bed even though they know it isn’t good for them – because we don’t think straight in the morning. Trust the decision you made when fully conscious and get out of bed.
- You’ll only feel tired for a couple of minutes. Within moments of having got out of bed you’ll feel less tired. All it takes is the endurance of just a few minutes of pain, that’s all it is, to become more successful, happy, and gain peace of mind.
So set that alarm, put up with those few minutes of pain, and start making the most out of your days. It’s that simple.
There’s a reason that everybody is talking about meditation – it has the power to transform your mind entirely. And I’m not even exaggerating. This Harvard study showed that participants that engaged in just 27 minutes of mindfulness meditation every day for 8 weeks saw dramatic changes in the physical structure of their brain. Areas involved in memory and learning grew in size, while others linked with anxiety and stress shrunk.
Here are just a handful of the benefits that regular meditative practice can give rise to:
- Alleviates symptoms of mental illness like depression and anxiety.
- Boosts immune system efficiency.
- Increases happiness.
- Enhances self-esteem and self-acceptance.
- Improves cognitive skills and creative thinking.
But what exactly is meditation, and how can you implement it into your morning routine?
Meditation is quite simply the practice of being present. That is, giving your focus to this moment instead of worrying about the past and the future.
Below is a short guide to the practice:
- Take a seat somewhere quiet where you won’t be distracted.
- Close your eyes and begin to deepen your breathing.
- Focus on the breath as it enters and leaves the body, paying attention to the sensations it gives rise to.
- Notice thoughts as they come and go, not becoming attached to any but simply observing them.
- If you happen to become lost in thought, gently return your focus to the breath.
- Feel at peace.
It’s incredibly simple and has tremendous benefits. Just fifteen minutes of meditation in the morning will put you in a relaxed state of mind, setting you up to have a good day, everyday.
It doesn’t matter how, or what, or why, just get moving. You might wish to go for a run in the morning or practice yoga, but engaging in physical exercise in the morning has myriad benefits on your wellbeing.
- It wakes you up, making you feel alert and energized.
- Exercise releases endorphins, hormones that create feelings of happiness.
- It’s good for your health, lowering blood pressure and reducing risk of heart disease.
- Boosts energy levels.
- Promotes better sleep.
And these are just five of several hundred. We, as human beings, are meant to move. It isn’t in our nature to be seated all day, exercising only when we get up to eat/drink. By exercising when you wake up in the morning, you’ll begin the day full of energy and feeling happy.
I’m not saying that you need to crawl from your slumber and throw yourself into high intensity exercise before wiping the sleep from your eyes. You can, but you probably don’t really want to.
Exercise isn’t the grueling endurance many of us envision it to be. Exercise can mean a short, relaxing walk, skipping rope, practicing yoga – it can be anything, so long as you’re moving around. I encourage you to build an exercise routine that suits your preferences. Experiment and find what works best for you.
Implement this routine into your morning and you’ll feel the benefits long after.
If you enjoyed this article and wish to view more of my work, you can do so by visiting yugenblog.com where articles are uploaded every weekday.
See you next Monday!