Every day we wake up in the morning and most likely go through the same routine we do every other day. We wake up, crawl out of bed hunched over, go to the bathroom, have a shower, get dressed etc etc. We undertake these same sets of activities, and yet many of us feel that we don’t start the day out feeling good. Well for those of us who are aware of Einstein’s Theory of Insanity (doing the same thing, in the same way and expecting a different result) we actually have to do something different, if we want to actually feel different.
I think the body’s response to change is fascinating. Consider when it’s the middle of winter, a sunny day of 22 degrees feels deliciously warm, whereas in the middle of summer it feels unseasonably cool. It’s all about what we’re used to. And when you’re used to a certain routine, something different can feel quite strange at first and it takes us a while to adapt. But if we can visualise a different potential outcome, a more positive outcome, then maybe the small effort that goes into a change could be really worth it.
A habit occurs when neuronal pathways in the brain become fixed through constant use, like going to work the same way every day. It’s important not to let reactivity to a bad morning routine, become a habit.
If we take a beginner’s mind, ie looking at each day as if it were the first, we can wake up with: “Today is a day where I feel full of potential”.
Try it out. See how the words feel within you. They’re different, we register them differently within the body, and therefore in the mindset and attitude. And our mindset is what helps to form habits, good and bad.
So what can you do to start developing a positive morning mindset. Well it can start before you even get out of bed. When the alarm goes off, you probably roll over and press snooze, and say to yourself “just five more minutes” and then as the snooze button wears off and you know it’s time, you get out of bed slowly and wander in a hunch to the bathroom. So now let’s try something different. Let’s start and create a new habit. Try these 6 steps for developing a positive morning mindset.
1. When the alarm goes off, stay in bed and spend those 5 minutes stretching in the bed. Stretch tall and stretch wide. Get your blood flowing and your body ready for movement in a positive way.
2. When you do into the bathroom (if you’re not busting), go to the mirror first and give yourself a huge smile. Now I know this might sound a little odd, but look in the mirror while you’re grinning like an idiot and say to yourself “I feel terrific”. Say it three times in a row and like you really mean it. It’s OK to have a bit of a laugh at yourself while you’re doing it. Laughing is good and the whole 5 second exercise will get your endorphins flowing – your happy drugs, to kick start some good emotions. Now, when you go to the kitchen and greet your family, keep the smile on your face and smile at every member of your family. They might wonder at first what’s wrong with you, but just wait for the positive impact. We know that there is a ripple effect when we engage in positive behaviour in our relationships. If we smile at someone, they are more likely to smile back and to keep smiling and be happy when they meet others in the day, and those people are then more likely to smile at others and so on and so on.
3. Don’t check your mobile, or your emails or any other device. Your time is your time. Protect your time and your work life balance and keep work activities to do within work time. Give yourself a break from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc etc as well. There is plenty of time in the day to attend to these later. Give yourself a tech free morning until 9am at least.
4. After your shower and before you get dressed, sit down on the carpet and do 10 minutes of meditation or mindfulness. Regular meditation has been shown to increase activity in the left pre-frontal cortex, a region in the brain known to be connected to positive emotion.
5. Eat breakfast. I know we are all in a rush and usually a coffee is all we have time for. But 10 minutes at the kitchen table correctly fuelling your body for the day can make a world of difference. Not to mention it’s another opportunity to smile at your family.
6. While you’re eating breakfast consider your plan of action for the day. If you have things on your mind that you are worried about, then take clear action and decide on a specific course, problem solve and work through what is within your control. Feel empowered to charge ahead with the day knowing that you are in control of your reactions and have a clear sense of how you will cope with any adversity.
Now you’re ready to start the day fresh, motivated, empowered and full of opportunities. Go out and start the day with your new morning mindset.
Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, behaviour and wellbeing. You can find her at www.bakjacconsulting.com or firstname.lastname@example.org