Every day is filled with endless opportunities, but starting your day on 5 hours sleep, no breakfast and a to-do list as long as your arm can make it difficult to be open to and aware of those opportunities.
And when you're feeling exhausted or dreading the day ahead, it can be easy to forget that you have the power to influence the outcome of each day.
How do you start your day?
Everyone has a morning routine but for most people, it happens on auto-pilot and few are consciously aware of it. Perhaps, after hitting the snooze button a few times the first thing you do is check your emails and social media on your smartphone.
Or maybe you start your morning by switching on the TV and watching the morning news with a cup of coffee. It’s also possible that you’re normally so tired that you leave yourself just enough time to shower and get dressed, which means you end up doing your make-up and grabbing a coffee on the way to work.
The way you start your day very often sets the tone for the rest of the day. So starting positively increases your chances of having a happy and successful day.
You’ll currently have a consistent way of doing things in the morning and it's likely that you do things in a certain order, at a certain time. But have you ever thought about what impact your morning routine has on you? Does your morning routine get you excited and motivated for the day ahead, or do you start each day feeling weary and overwhelmed?
With a few simple changes, you can include some essential self-care at the start of your day, helping you to feel less stressed and exhausted and more relaxed and energized.
Here are 5 positive ways to start your day:
1. Drink hot water and lemon
You've probably heard this suggested several times. It's been recommended for a number of years by many health and wellbeing experts and that's because there are a number of health benefits associated with drinking hot water and lemon before starting your day.
These include boosting your immune system, improving digestion and having clearer skin. If you normally start your day with a cup of tea or coffee, you may initially feel more lethargic and you could even experience headaches as your body craves its usual caffeine fix.
But if you can get past this stage, you should begin to feel the benefits associated with drinking hot water and lemon. It is recommended that you have your hot water and lemon first thing, on an empty stomach and using fresh lemons (preferably organic).
Similarly to hot water and lemon, meditation is something that seems to be recommended by almost everyone. And if it's not meditation, it's mindfulness.
Many of us wake up consumed with thoughts of what we didn't get done yesterday and how much we have to do today. We're stressed before we've even left the comfort of our bed.
Practicing meditation in the morning can help to quieten the mind and regain some mental balance before facing the demands of the day. Because meditation has been around for centuries, a lot of scientific research has been carried out to measure and analyze its effects.
Numerous studies have shown that meditation can improve focus and concentration, increase creativity, reduce anxiety and a 2014 study even suggested that its effects rivaled antidepressants with regards to managing the symptoms of depression.
Learning to meditate can transform your life and the good news is that you can get started with as little as five minutes each morning.
Like meditation, many studies have been performed to examine the benefits of exercise. It has been proven time and again that exercise has a significant positive effect on not only our physical health but also our mental and emotional well-being.
Your initial thought might be that you don't sufficient have time in the morning to exercise, and you could be right.
You may have to follow in the footsteps of some very successful women such as Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston, and Michelle Obama, who wake up early enough to fit daily exercise around their busy schedules. But it will be worth it.
In an interview with O Magazine, Michelle Obama said “If I don't exercise, I won't feel good. I'll get depressed.” and so she wakes up at 4.30am to ensure she can fit exercise into her morning routine.
And despite having to wake up a little earlier to exercise, studies have shown that people who exercise in the morning actually sleep better than those who exercise in the evening.
Including exercise into your morning practice does not have to be a full-blown gym session. It can be going for a brisk walk, doing yoga or just some simple stretches. The most important thing is to get moving and get your blood pumping.
4. Read or listen to something positive
Most people start their morning by reaching for either their smartphone or the TV remote control. They tune into the morning news or sign into social media to catch up on what they've missed. If this is how you begin your day, it means the first input you have is normally negative.
As the media is designed to be fear-based, very few news stories are positive so more often than not you're feeling depressed before you've even had a shower! Instead of tuning into the news or social media, consider reading a book of inspiring quotes or passages. Alternatively, if you prefer to listen to something while you're getting ready in the morning, try a podcast instead.
There are so many podcasts now available; you're guaranteed to find something of interest. Here are three podcasts that are perfect for starting your morning on a positive note:
• Michael Hyatt's This is Your Life
• Gretchen Rubin's Happier
• Motivation to Move's Daily Boost
Whether it's creating a gratitude list, setting your intentions for the day or simply getting all those thoughts circling your mind down on paper, journaling can be a great way to start the day.
Rather than starting your day by reading emails and responding to what others want from you or need you to do, a morning journal practice gives you the opportunity to get clear on how you want your day to be.
You start your day in control and you get to set the tone for the rest of your day.
Writing affirmations can help you feel empowered and motivated, whilst capturing details of your dreams can give you an insight into any sub-conscious concerns or desires that you may have.
There is no right or wrong way to journal. You may choose to write a specific number of pages each day, following the structure of Julia Cameron's Morning Pages. Or perhaps simply writing a list of 10 or 20 things that you're grateful for would be a more manageable addition to your morning routine.
Whatever method you choose, journal writing is a much more positive way to start your day. In the world where we're always connected, on the go and stressed, how you begin your morning has a huge impact on your mood and attitude for the rest of the day.
Therefore, making sure that your morning routine creates a positive physical, mental and emotional state is crucial.