Mornings are rough.
Even with the best intentions of going to bed early to (finally) catch up on sleep, the alarm always seems to sound too soon. Along with some physical side effects like red, puffy eyes lined with dark circles, the day in, day out sound of that alarm brings a lot of emotional side effects too, oftentimes making me moody before the day has even begun.
As a girl with a troubled relationship with mornings, I have adopted some simple and effortless habits to get my mind right before getting out of bed in hopes of a more positive morning experience.
While there are countless articles and ideas about how to have a more productive, pleasant morning, my favorite tips are things that can all be done before you even open your eyes.
Here are my most used (and perhaps laziest) ways to start my mornings in hopes to having the most positive day possible:
- Smile – I realize how silly this sounds, as smiling may be the very last thing you want to do as soon as you hear your alarm go off, but smiling has an actual affect on your brain. Even just exercising the facial muscles used to smile can improve your overall mood. Smiling activates that “feel-good” part of your brain, releases endorphins and decrease stress. So even if it’s the smallest and fakest smile you can muster, do it. Your brain won’t know the difference.
- Set a second alarm – No, it’s not for the simple joy of hitting that snooze button, I do believe it is beneficial to set an additional alarm to go off 5-10 minutes before you intend to get up. Hear me out: When that first alarm sounds, obey it (and smile, you’ve got 10 more minutes). Wake up, come alive, and be present. In the time you have before the second alarm goes off, spend it intentionally, don’t just go back to sleep. Instead, cuddle up next to the one(s) you love. Whether it’s your kid who crawled into bed with you in the middle of the night, your dog, significant other or partner, use that time to start the morning with love. This gives you some time to ease into your mornings, and spend a little extra time giving love and feeling appreciative for the ones you can hold tight.
- Practice gratitude – As you wake up and become aware, try to think of 2-3 things that you’re grateful for. It could be something as small as waking up to live another day, or for the coffee that you’ll be sipping as you start your morning. You may even have a gratitude journal or list, where you can write in more detail about the things you are thankful for. But even just acknowledging and making a mental note of the things you’re thankful for is a great reminder to appreciate the little things, even when you’re dead tired.
- Set your intention for the day – Setting an intention can help you move throughout your day with a little more meaning and purpose. An intention is different than goal setting. An intention could be something as simple one word, or a small phrase. Think about what you want to get out of the day ahead and sum it up using a quick word or phrase that you can reference during the day. For example, maybe you have a ton of things to check off your “to-do” list (who doesn’t), rather than making a goal to complete “XYZ” from your to-do list, your intention for the day could be “focus” to help you to stay on task throughout the day. That way, when your mind wanders or you get distracted, you can remind yourself to “focus” and get back on track.
- Breathe – Before you sit up to physically start the day, try taking a few deep breaths. Just 3-5 full breaths, breathing in through your nose and exhaling through your mouth will do the trick. Deep, cleansing breaths can help ground you and bring you to the present moment. It will also lower stress levels, reduce anxiety and loosen tension in the body. Deep breathing is a great way to clear your mind and help you into a positive space to tackle the day ahead.
Even though these five tips can set you up for a better and more positive morning, try just implementing one or two at a time. They’re all so easy to do, there’s no harm in trying them all out to see which ones stick!
Some of us may be more accustomed to the morning time grouchiness, but it doesn’t have to be that way! So, the next time your alarm goes off and you feel like you’ve only just laid down to sleep, remember these simple tricks to get you back on track for a great day!