Mornings can be hard. There’s usually a lot to do in very little time, and many of us rush through our entire routine from the moment our alarm goes off.
We don’t have time to slow down and ease ourselves into the day – we’re too preoccupied with ticking off our to-do list, and making mental notes of what not to forget before running out the door.
You may have accepted that this is how mornings are, and should be. But the truth is, how we feel in the mornings often sets the tone for how we feel throughout the rest of our day.
Have you ever noticed that, when things don’t go well for you in the morning, the rest of the day seems to go badly too? You start off by rushing around, dropping things and feeling anxious that you’ll be late. You run out of the house, end up missing your bus or train and getting to work late – then feel like you’re playing catch up for the rest of the day?
A study into how mornings affect the rest of our day by Harvard Business Review, found that those who started out each day happy or calm usually stayed that way throughout the day. On the other hand, those who started their day in a bad mood were rarely able to climb out of it, often feeling even worse towards the end of the day.
Ultimately, it’s worth trying to make our mornings a little less rushed and a little more positive. And, the good news is that there are a few simple changes you can make to help yourself have more relaxed, happier mornings – and they are not that difficult to implement.
1. Start by waking up a little earlier.
No-one likes giving up sleep, but if it helps you to have a more relaxed, happier morning as a result, isn’t it worth it? Waking up a little earlier means that you will have some extra time just to ease yourself into the day, without stressing out your body and mind first thing.
One easy way to start waking up a little earlier is to first set your alarm to just 5 minutes earlier, and get used to that before increasing it to 10 minutes, and so on. It can take a few weeks, but eventually you’ll be able to wake up at least half hour earlier, giving you more time to have a happier, more relaxed morning. Matt Valentine has also written about other techniques you can use to become an early riser on Buddhaimonia. Learn to wake up a little earlier, and your body and mind will thank you.
2. Mornings are hard. Give yourself a ‘reward’.
One way to have a happier morning is to give yourself a little ‘reward’ for getting ready to face the day, particularly in cold winter months. This ‘’reward’ can be anything that you love doing – listening to some music you love as you get dressed, a take-away coffee on your way to work, or a cup of tea in bed while you watch the breakfast show. It’ll be easier to wake up knowing that a ‘reward’ is coming, and you’ll immediately give yourself a mood boost when you need it the most.
3. Learn to clear your head.
I have learnt through time that thoughts are responsible for most of our emotions. If you spend your morning freaking out about your day, or playing out negative scenarios in your head, your body will respond with emotions like anxiety, fear or frustration. Learn to quieten your mind for a happier morning. Start my simply noticing a negative thought of fear or self-doubt when it comes in (for example, worrying about everything you need to do at work that day), then letting go by paying full attention to what you are doing instead (eating breakfast, getting dressed, or whatever else it is that you do in the morning). You’ll learn to help your mind let go of the anxiety you may feel in the morning, and be able to have a happier morning as a result.
4. Mix it up.
Our morning routine often entails the same actions, in the same order, day after day. This exact same routine every morning can become seriously dull, and you may not get any joy out of it anymore – even if you do give yourself a ‘reward’ of some sort each day.
How about mixing it up a little? Take a different route to work, or walk instead of driving. Grab a coffee from a different cafe, or swap your take-away coffee for 15 minutes of sitting in a café and reading a book. By making slight changes to your routine, you don’t disrupt the flow of your morning, but at the same time, have enough variety to keep things interesting.
Think there’s no time to do that in the morning? Well, it turns out that lots of people are early risers, who manage to get a whole lot of things done before the sun is up.
Use these easy steps to help you have a happier, more peaceful morning, which will hopefully lead to a better day.