I often find myself going to war.
But this is not the type of war that leaves people laying dead on a bloody field; it doesn’t leave paramedics rushing to the battle in hopes of saving lives; it doesn’t lead to new governments, expansion of lands, or new constitutions.
This is a full-on battle happening inside my brain. This is my subconscious mind wanting to control the rest of my conscious mind, which eventually consumes my thoughts if I let it. This leads to my actions, and then eventually to who I am.
Again, that’s only IF I let it.
I, like many of you reading this right now, battle those “demons” in my mind. Mine usually like to make their grand entrance while the sun is still down, my eyes are closed, and I begin to wake up. They always used to try to get that first thought in.
I know many of you get what I mean.
Over the years, I’ve become extraordinarily mindful of their rituals and I write this today to share some strategies that I would be wrong to call “coping mechanisms” – they’re more than that. It isn’t about coping – it’s about thriving. Here they are:
1. Keep Your Phone Away From the Bed
If you use your phone as your alarm, then this is KEY. Keep your phone far away enough that you must get out of bed to turn it off. Once you’re up, why wouldn’t you keep on rolling and just get your day started?
Turn off the alarm once you’re up, but DO NOT CHECK YOUR PHONE (more on this later).
*Pro tip: Choose a song you love that pumps you up as your morning “alarm jam.”
2. Own the First 60 Seconds of Your Day
Notice I don’t say “the day.” It’s not “the day,” it’s YOUR DAY.
Okay, the alarm goes off and you instantly find the “devil in your mind.” You know that voice; that self-sabotage mechanism many of us, if not all of us, have that says something like:
“F*ck it’s already time to get up??!! Ughhhh whyyyyyyyyyy?!!!”
“Screw it, what’s the point?”
“I seriously hate Mondays.”
“Can’t I just fake sick?”
The list goes on. And this will go on unless you stop it.
Owning the first 60 seconds of your day means that if and when this voice does enter your mind, you quickly become conscious of it and replace it with a positive thought that kicks that negative devil-voice to the curb. You win when you do this. The most effective first thought to counter that negative reflex-like thought when you hear that alarm go off is, “Thank you, God (or thank you, universe) for giving me life this morning.”
If that doesn’t sit well with you for whatever reason, I invite you to consider one of the following opposition thoughts…
“I am grateful to wake up this morning.”
“Thank you, universe, for giving me breath this morning.” Then take a deep, focused breath.
“I am so damn lucky to have everything that I have; to have life, to have my health (even if it’s not perfect, it could always be worse), to have opportunity and choice, to breathe, to be able to smile, to wake up in a bed. THANK YOU.”
You may want to create a small morning prayer – I have one, and will share that with you in a follow-up read.
3. DO NOT CHECK YOUR PHONE
I write this in CAPS for a reason, my friends. This is YOUR morning, these are YOUR thoughts, and this is YOUR opportunity to get your day started on the right foot.
So own it.
The second you start looking through emails, texts, and your social media accounts, you are giving up your full control and power to lead your mind, instead of your mind leading you.
4. Blast Some Music
What music pumps you up and makes you smile? Whatever it is – Bob Marley, Deadmau5, Green Day, Blink 182, Tiesto, whatever – put it on and put it on LOUD. Music with a great beat stimulates the mind and the body.
*Pro tip: Even though I love hip-hop, I try not to play it first thing in the morning because the lyrics are generally pretty dark – so don’t put on your mean mug just yet. Maybe never.
5. Drink a Full Glass of Water
You just went hours without any fluid. Considering our body is composed of 90% water, you better hydrate; give it that fluid, and treat it like the temple that it is.
Water is the source of life, so right after you think about something positive and express gratitude, treat yourself to a full glass of H2O.
*Pro tip: As you sip, listen to your body take in the water, focus on it passing through your lips, into your mouth, down your throat, and into the rest of your body – take a moment and be grateful that you have a body that works enough to enjoy a glass of water.
6. Increase Your Heart Rate
How? Exercise. Any type of exercise. I personally prefer some type of yoga practice. This can even happen beside your bed if you don’t have space in your home – don’t use a lack of space as an excuse. If you have access to the gym, try going in the morning and not the evening. Either way, just make sure that you do get your heart rate up first thing, even if it’s not your main form of exercise for the day. Watch what happens when those endorphins start flowing.
Hello, weekday warrior.
7. Take a Cold Shower
Yes, you read that right. C-O-L-D shower. Sometimes known as the “James Bond Shower” or the “Scottish Shower” – or as I call it, a “Smart Shower” – jump right into the crisp, cold, refreshing water. Or if you don’t want to give up your warm, spa-like shower, then at least turn the water to cold for the last 12 seconds (minimum). Like, really cold.
You’ll thank yourself and enjoy benefits: improved circulation, increased alertness, reduced stress, which can lead to increased immunity to disease. Also try to shorten your showers. This will mean more time to read in the morning, hang with people you love, or crush it at work… but who’s counting?
8. Breakfast – Who’s Hungry?
Now it’s time to fuel your body with some delicious and healthy food. Get your protein in, along with whole grain carbs, fruits and veggies, and calcium. Your body will be grateful to you and you will get so much more out of your day.
Cut out the cheeses, the regular milk and/or cream, and the preservatives. If you think clean, you will feel clean and be ready to flow right into your day.
*Pro tip: After doing all of the above, you may find that the days of you saying “But, first coffee” will actually seem like it was someone else’s slogan, not your’s. However, if you still love your morning coffee (I do), enjoy it! But go straight espresso or use a natural nut milk instead of the heavy milks or creams – and NO sugar or sweetener.
Follow these eight tips in sequence and you will become a morning person; you’ll be pumped to be alive, and you won’t know how you didn’t do it before. Just remember: like anything in life, we get out what we put in, but if you can make the start of your day just that much more positive, hopeful, and fun, why wouldn’t you?
*Caveat: if anyone reading this has young kids, just wake up 30 minutes earlier to achieve everything written above. You can certainly still get it on.