• (And What to Do Instead)

    Your current morning routine could be adversely affecting your quality of life. Set yourself up for success by replacing these harmful habits with actions that empower you to create a life you love.

    1. Hit the snooze button.

    “Sleeping in” by hitting snooze can actually make you feel more sluggish, and getting up at the last minute makes you feel rushed. How you begin the day affects the rest of it. When you start off out of control, you’ll be frazzled all day.

    Set your alarm for a reasonable time, then get up when it goes off. If you’re so tired that this feels impossible, try to go to sleep earlier the night before (see tip #5)

    2. Jump out of bed right away.

    Taking a moment to come gently awake before you get out of bed can make an enormous difference. Once you stop hitting snooze, you’ll have a few extra minutes. Spend them breathing slowly and deeply. Don’t think about your to-do list or anything stressful. Just concentrate on your breath.

    You can repeat a calming word or phrase in your head, like “peace” or “I am grateful for this day.” Add a few stretches if you like. Then slowly get up. This practice puts you in a mindset of mindfulness, helping you stay centered and calm.

    Massage and yoga therapist Stacy Wooster says, “The morning sets the tone for the whole day. If we get up and are ‘go, go, go’ right away, that’s the pace for the rest of the day. If we can begin in a more conscious way, we are able to make choices that are more aware. It’s a totally different feel. And all the small choices add up; it’s the subtle things that really change our lives.” She recommends to “take ten slow breaths while you’re still in bed. Then when you sit up, put your feet on the floor and feel them there. The feet have a lot of nerve endings; paying attention to how they feel on the floor helps you be more aware of your body and grounds you.”

    3. Check your phone first thing.

    This is so common, and so detrimental. One study found that 80% of smartphone users—that’s 4 out of 5 people—check their phone within an hour of waking up. And 35% do it within the first five minutes!

    Why is this harmful? Checking social media, texts, or email often makes you tense and anxious. It can also put you in a reactive state, where you’re dealing with other people’s issues. When you do that before you’ve had a chance to set your own agenda, you’re essentially handing control of your day over to others.

    Author and coach Patricia Charpentier says, “If I get sucked into checking email first, I’m gone. Then I’m in multitasking mode and I’m hopping from thing to thing. A set practice helps me focus on one item at a time. I’m more mindful of my choices and where I’m putting my time and energy.”

    Instead of looking at your phone, do something calming and uplifting. Make a list of what you’re grateful for. Read something inspiring. Listen to music that evokes joy.

    One way to avoid temptation is to stop using your phone as your alarm. Get an alarm clock instead, and keep your phone in another room. Some people also put it on airplane mode so they won’t see any notifications even if they pick it up.

    4. Do something “good for you” because you think you should, not because you want to.

    People may say that meditation is the most transformational practice there is, but if it makes you crazy, it’s not the practice for you. Ditto with exercise, or journaling. I talked to more than twenty successful women about their morning rituals, and they all emphasized this: be true to yourself. Do something that meets yourneeds and makes youhappy. It’s not good for you if it doesn’t make you feel good.

    5. Stay up late.

    OK, this is actually something to avoid in the evening, but it has a major effect on your morning. You won’t be your best if you don’t get enough sleep; it’s essential to good health. Set your bedtime early enough so that you wake up feeling rested. An hour beforehand, turn off all screens and start to wind down. Some ideas: take a bath, read, do some stretches, write down all your worries so they don’t keep you up. Make sure your bedroom is cool and dark (that phone isn’t in there, is it?). Then enjoy the bliss of a good night’s sleep, and see how much better it makes your morning!

    Start your day on your terms. Take control of your day before it takes control of you, and reap the benefits.

    For more, see her book: A Beautiful Morning: How a Morning Ritual Can Feed Your Soul and Transform Your Life

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    Article by: Ashley Brown

    Ashley Brown is an award-winning author who grew up in New Orleans and graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Foreign Affairs (which she did not use, although she had a lot of fun getting it). She worked as an advertising copywriter and account executive, book editor, and employee communications manager for the world’s third-largest death care firm before becoming a freelance writer in 2000. She also authors the blog, Joy Detectives. Her writing has appeared on The Daily Positive and in the anthology Song of Ourself: Voices in Unison. Brown’s own morning ritual inspired her to write A Beautiful Morning in order to share this powerful tool with others. She lives in Florida with her husband, son, and their rescued beagle, Snoopy. Connect with Brown on Facebook, Instagram, or by visiting her website at www.abeautifulmorningbook.com.

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