Maybe you feel great and simply want to optimize your health. Perhaps you, like so many people, have struggled with anxiety, depression, and/or feeling overwhelmed with life in general. You may have insomnia, trouble losing weight, issues with focus and motivation, pain that is hard to treat, etc. No matter where you are at, there is one thing that can help everyone. One thing that can significantly change your day, and your life.
That one thing is having, and continuing, a morning routine.
Yes, it is really that simple and life changing. I have experienced it for myself, as well as seen it make a huge difference in the lives of a wide variety of people; people that I work with on a regular basis.
Think about what most people do. They immediately turn on their phone (or check their phone if it is already turned on) upon awakening. If not the phone, then the computer. Or they start caretaking for other people. Whatever action is taken, the overwhelming majority of people start their day before taking time to center their own thoughts and take care of their own mind and body. This stimulates cortisol (a stress reaction hormone) and also affects your Progesterone/Testosterone/Estrogen balance which creates a “hostile” hormonal environment in your body. This can lead to having a difficulty losing weight, the inability to have good sleep, and an overall lack of enjoyment of life. It is like being a hamster on a wheel–feeling like you are going around and around, never really able to catch up with things. Over time, this leads to anxiety, depression, and/or overwhelm aka overload. Does this sound familiar?
Or you may be one of the lucky few that actually feels OK but you know that you are not “optimal”.
Either way, the key to feeling optimal–to having the energy, health, vitality, and joy that you desire is to change the way that you start your day.
If you think this is crazy, I understand. I used to start my day like everyone else and I paid the price for it. It landed me in the hospital for 40 days. That woke me up! I hope that you don’t have to go through what I did in order to wake up! What do you think will happen to your health, to your life, if you continue the way that you are for another 10, 20 years? What will it cost you and your family? Think about that for a moment. I almost lost my life, and I can tell you that it is not worth it!
Now, think about what if you changed some simple things and started living your days in a more healthful, vital way….what would that give you and your family? I am going to give you advice on what I did and it changed my life! I now enjoy my days. I feel healthy and vital no matter what is going on around me. Would you like to feel that way? What if you take the advice I am about to give you and give it a try for 30 days? What if you take a leap of faith and change the way that you start your morning? What does it cost you? Really not much–maybe a little time but overall it is free to change your morning routine. Are you willing to make some minor changes that can give you major results in your life?
I hope that the answer is yes!! (I guess it is if you are still reading this :))
Upon awakening it is important that you take time to connect with your own thoughts and to be able to reflect on your day before taking on anything else. By doing this, you will have the mental fortitude to handle just about anything that crosses your path. If you need to wake up a little earlier to do these things it is well worth it. I now wake up 1 hour before I used to in order to have the wonderful morning that I now experience every day. I would not trade that for anything! (I am a truly recovered snooze button hitter!) In the beginning you may struggle with this, but be patient….it gets easier with time. You will actually find that you like this over time as you recognize that your days are so much better because of this routine.
1. Turn off your phone, TV, radio, and computer at a set time each night (at least an hour before bedtime) and wait at least a half hour after awakening to turn it on. (I wait 2 hours, but you can start with less to get used to it).
It is critical that you do this! It is important to have no outside influencers invade your mind right before bed and right after waking up. Exception: If you need or enjoy music while exercising in the morning it is perfectly fine to have music, but access your music without seeing or hearing any phone, email or text messages, etc.
2. Take at least 5 minutes of quiet time in the morning to simply sit and allow your mind to be quiet. I advise that you go outside if the weather permits.
It is amazing how getting outside and experiencing the world outdoors can give you a beautiful perspective. If you would like to drink a cup of coffee or tea during this time it is perfectly fine. Take this time to enjoy life, to enjoy being you. Breathe in and out deeply and slowly. Think about how amazing the world is and how small our issues really are. Focus on the joy of living, be grateful for being alive. If negative thoughts or things that you have to do creep into your mind, simply acknowledge them and let them go. Bring your mind back to the quietness of the moment.
3. Write in a gratitude journal each morning.
Our brains are wired to look for what is wrong (which is what news stations prey upon). We must train our brains to look for the good that is around us in order to enjoy our lives. Keeping a gratitude journal is a key to doing this. You can buy a simple blank notebook to write in or you can purchase a specific gratitude journal, the choice is yours. Each morning write 3 things that you are grateful for. (You can even write in things you don’t yet have….)
I love the 5 minute journal by Intelligent Change, but use whatever works. It is best if this is hand written–not typed.
4. Do some form of exercise each morning.
Whether you do a minute of jumping jacks, go on a walk, go to the gym, ride a bike, etc…..it does not matter. Do some sort of exercise each morning to get the blood flow pumping and the healthy hormones released. Even if you prefer your full exercise routine later in the day, start your day with some form of exercise for at least a minute each morning. No matter what your exercise tolerance is, you can find something that you can do.
5. Read something that is positive each morning.
There are many resources for feeding our minds positive things. There are books by Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins, Abraham Hicks, Jack Canfield, Michael Bernoff, etc. Pick something up in the personal development section of the bookstore and read it. You can read it on kindle or get an actual book, whatever works. There are also very positive magazines such as Success magazine and other positive minded magazines. Pick what appeals to you and read from it in the morning for 10 minutes or more if you have time. (It also makes great reading before bedtime) Reading sources that feed your mind in a positive manner will help you to build resilience against the large amount of negative influences that surround us.
6. Visualize your day how you wish it to be.
Things may not turn out exactly how you want them, but there are numerous studies that have shown that what we think about we do bring about (more or less). Focus on what you want! Why not have a few minutes each day to see your day and life how you wish it to be? Does it hurt anything to envision what you want for a few moments each day? It may sound like a fairy tale but I have seen it work too many times to think it does not work. At the very least, you start your day with hope and positivity. Isn’t that better than the alternative??
This morning routine can be done in 15 minutes or an hour or two, depending on what you can do. The amount of time that you actually spend does not matter as much as the fact that you do these things consistently, even if only 1 minute for each item.
How important is how you feel to you and those you love? How important is your overall health to you? Is it worth committing a little time to yourself each day to start your day off on the right foot?
Commit to doing these things on a regular basis and I guarantee that you will start feeling better in ways that you can not even imagine. You will find yourself with more energy, feeling overall more positive, and with a more vital and joyful life. When will you start this morning routine??
Now is the time to start!!
P.S. You can exponentially increase your results if you also commit to avoiding watching news and minimizing, or avoiding, social media that is anything but positive during this time. Go on a news and social media “diet” during this month. Trust me, if anything significant happens you will know as you can always independently research things (which is better anyway).
P.P.S. If you would like assistance with establishing this morning routine, join the daily Thrivers call at 6 am Monday through Friday–it is free and it is on zoom. The information is on our calendar.
For those who would like one on one help in establishing a healthy morning routine, set up a consultation with John Grant, Results Coach.
Have a wonderful and healthy NEW YEAR!! (I know that I will and I truly hope that you join me!)
Dr. Laurie Blanscet
Integrative Medical Physician