Since entering the work force I have experienced approximately 7,920 work days. Excluding some major holidays and a few sick days, and including my workaholic stretch in the 90's and early in the millennium years, I have tried just about every trick in the book to optimize sleep, maximize positivity and keep my mind, body and being in good shape. In spite of all the external factors that do their best to work their mojo, I knew it was always in my best interest to start my day off properly. I'm not talking about the obvious things like eating a balanced breakfast, getting the proper amount of rest and staying off the Red Bull and eighth cup of coffee before bedtime. But I am talking about little changes, that if made could have a lasting impact on my health and my productivity during the day.
You will find most of the (best) practices below will take very little effort to accomplish, but will help you wake up and get started on your day as a winner.
When you snooze, you lose - Hitting the snooze button might make you think you are getting more sleep, but you are doing more harm than good. As your sleep becomes fragmented your body becomes even more sluggish. Those extra few minutes of sleep may be sending your body into deeper sleep stages, making you feel even more tired. Instead of hitting "snooze" several times in the morning, set your alarm later and wake up on the alarm's first call. Experiment with your biological clock to find out what your best length of sleep really is and do your best to stick to it.
Start from the inside out - Many people use their smart phones as their alarm clock. If you fall into that category, once you turn your alarm off, put your phone down. As your body gently shifts from asleep to awake, don't shock it into reality quite yet with Facebook, Twitter, email and your news feed. Instead, take that same time you were dedicating to see what others are up to and invest it on the wonderful simplicity of your breath in and out. Five minutes of watching your thoughts pass by, focusing on nothing other than your breathing in and out will have a surprisingly wonderful lasting impression on the rest of your day. As an added bonus, end your day the same way.
Counting counts - My daughter Rachel told me about a breathing exercise called 4-7-8 and I have been using it for months now with amazing results. Start with a full exhale. Then, breathe in through your nose to the count of four. Hold to the count of seven. Exhale through your mouth to the count of eight. Repeat a total of four times. This practice is useful first thing in the morning, before going to bed, when anxiety makes its way into your day or when tense moments occur anytime. It's also a great way to deal with a problem BEFORE you react.
Dance like no one is watching - Okay, so maybe dancing isn't your thing, but get your heart rate up even if only for a few minutes. If you have stairs in your house, try going up and down them five to ten times to get your heart rate up. Working out in the morning starts your internal "fire" earlier and will help you burn more calories than the same workout in the evening. The point is, get moving and start your day feeling motivated and feeling good about yourself with a bit of extra blood flow and cardio in the morning.
The big bad mama jama - Among the huge list of things you should accomplish during your day, set your goal for the one bad mama jama that MUST get accomplished. This "must do" is non negotiable and is the most important task on your list. If all else fails, this one must get taken off the list by the end of the day. Not only should you write this daily goal down, when you cross it off the list, do a small victory dance. Well done.
Side effects include (the fine print): Making these small changes will not just effect you, but will have a ripple effect on those around you. You will feel better and be ready for all the day has to deliver. Each day you work from the above list, you will be happier and more relaxed. You will get caught in a spiral of positivity as you begin your day properly. You deserve to wake up as a winner.