Have you ever had mornings where you woke up "on the wrong side of the bed"? It's happened to me due to a bad dream, poor sleep, or stress I haven't let go from the day before. But that doesn't mean your brand new day has to suffer. You can set up a morning routine to make sure you start your day relaxed.
Many of us rush to just do the bare minimum each morning to make it in to work on time or attend to whatever errands we had planned. Rushing can leave us frazzled and maybe even annoyed, which can set a bad tone for the rest of the day. I know it has for me and then I need 30 minutes when I get to work just to settle down and get into the right mindset. If you want to start the day off with a calming atmosphere surrounding you all day, you may need to change how you start off your morning. These steps have helped me to start the day off on the right foot.
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1. Journal at Bedtime
Some days are tougher than others. On those tough days, it's difficult not to feel overwhelmed by the stress. But that's no way to go to bed. If you do, you may find yourself restless or your sleep filled with bad dreams where you're constantly working to solve the problems of your day. The result in either case is waking up the next morning feeling like you only slept 4 solid hours, which you probably did collectively.
One of the ways I've been able to let go of my stress is by journaling. Leave all of your stress in your journal by completing the thoughts you weren't able to earlier so that your brain doesn't try to overwork in your sleep. You're not trying to summarise your day in this type of journal entry. The focus is to create steps to resolutions of any issues hanging over your head I talk about this and other tips to de-stress in my 5 Practical Steps to De-Stress post. These steps may help you have a more restful sleep.
2. Don't Touch Your Phone
In our social media filled world where news and entertainment is constantly available at our fingertips 24 hours a day 7 days a week, many of us have built the poor habit of fiddling with our phones the moment we open our eyes and before our feet even touch the ground. Although social media can be entertaining and the news can be informative, there's always time later in the day to catch up on all of that.
This morning routine is for you to keep in tune with your mind and body as you slowly arm it for the things the day will throw at you. If you can, practice staying away from your phone during your morning routine and let it be a time where you focus on yourself and your wellbeing.
3. Wake Up Slow
What's your first thought when you wake up? It may be, "I need to get ready [for work] now!" This throws you into a near panic state of rushing through the house. I used to jump out of bed at the sound of my alarm and would easily pull a back muscle or feel dizzy.
You're body has been circulating blood horizontally for the last 6-8 hours. Jolting your body upwards shocks your circulatory system to have to suddenly increase its ability to circulate blood vertically from head to toe against gravity. It's a lot of work and can leave you feeling lightheaded and disoriented.
To avoid all of this and keep you in a calm state, set your alarm a few minutes earlier than usual so that you give yourself ample time to wake up slowly. When you hear your alarm go off, wiggle your fingers and toes. Slowly open your eyes. Then, take a little stretch from head to toe before gently rolling on to your side and propping yourself up on the edge of your bed.
4. Ten Minute Gentle Yoga Flow
A great way to slowly wake your body up is through gentle stretching. You've been stuck in the same position for most of the night and your body may wake up feeling stiff. A way to stay in a meditative, calm state while bringing mobility back into your body is by focusing on your breath through some easier yoga poses. Here are a few poses that I love to use. Stay in each of these poses for 30-60 seconds. If any of these poses are difficult for you, skip them and stay in the other poses longer.
Cat-Cow Stretch (Chakravakasana)
Child's Pose (Balasana)
Cobra Post (Bhujangasana)
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Frog Pose (Mandukasana)
Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana, each side)
Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
Corpse Pose (Shavasana)
5. Wash Up
Washing up in the morning isn't a step you should skip for obvious hygienic reasons. We're often rushing through this step, keeping this down to a minimal number of steps. To keep your morning calm and relaxing, it's best to be mindful of each action you take.
One way to do this is by advancing your skincare routine to include all essential steps, even the ones you've been skipping to save time despite your skin desperately needing it. You're feeding your skin nutrients and moisture here. So as you apply each step, do it mindfully. It almost becomes meditative. The full 10 Step Korean Beauty skincare routine is ideal. But if you're saving time, the minimalistic routine is here: 5 Steps of Skincare you can't skip.
6. Open Windows
When the weather is warm, take advantage of it. Open your windows, breathe in the fresh air, and greet the morning sun. Take just a couple of minutes to take in whatever nature is right outside your window. Breathe deeply and slowly, focusing on nature and the fresh air going in and out of your lungs to keep you in that meditative, relaxed state. Another positive to this step is that you're airing out your house, which is a tip in my previous post about Staying Positive and Sane.
7. Water Houseplants
One of my favourite relaxing actions of the morning is watering my houseplants. It's a time for me to examine how much my herbs have grown and to see if my lemon tree has flowered. It's relaxing to smell the beautifully aromatic rosemary, basil, and mint plants along with the flowers of the lemon tree - a natural aromatherapy. It makes me proud to see how much they've grown under my care and puts me in a great mood in the morning
8. Make Breakfast
Breakfast is fuel for your day. I'm sure you've heard how important breakfast is many time before. But depending on what you eat and drink, it can also make you calmer. My morning ritual of brewing coffee - from grinding the beans and brewing them in a Moka over the stovetop - is one of the most calming rituals for me because the entire time, I'm inhaling the sweet, soothing, delicious coffee smells every step of the way. There are also breakfast foods that naturally induce anti-anxiety effects as listed in Healthline's article about 6 Foods That Help Reduce Anxiety., keeping you calm and relaxed as your start your day. Some of these foods include: eggs, yogurt, bananas, oats, citrus fruits, berries, almonds, turmeric, green tea, chamomile tea, and black tea.
Whether you have flowers, herbs or citrus plants among your garden or houseplants, cut a piece of one off and bring it to your work desk. I love cutting a few mint leaves off of my herb plant in the morning and keeping it by my laptop all day. When stress creeps up, inhale the relaxing aroma. If you have essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, and eucalyptus, turn on your diffuser and take some deep breaths in. Aromatherapy can reduce your stress and anxiety, creating a calm morning for you as explained in Healthline's article about Essential Oils and their effects on stress and anxiety..
10. Get Dressed
To reduce any stress of trying to find what to wear each morning, plan ahead by choosing outfits the day before. The colour blue is known to project a calm mood as stated in Very Well Mind's Color Psychology article, so you may want to choose blues from your wardrobe to maintain that calm atmosphere. But if you want to liven up your mood, look for bright colours in your wardrobe such as yellows, reds, pinks, oranges, and purples. Bright colours have been proven to elevate your mood as discussed by the Telegraph in their article Why Wearing Colour is a Proven Way to Boost Your Mood.
Whether you use all of these wellness tips or a select few, this will help you maintain a morning of calmness. It's important to do so because your stress doesn't always stay contained. You can easily affect coworkers or family members around you with negativity and it can affect your own health. Instead, you can choose to start your day off right. Take active measures to creative a positive and relaxed atmosphere around you each day.