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Over the past few years, I’ve tried and tested several practices to incorporate into my morning ritual.
From drinking warm lemon water to using mantras to devoting half an hour doing cardio. While some of these have added to my overall well-being (you should hit that soothing lemon water), I find that mornings are a delicate part of the day and should be adjusted according to your own personality.
The things that worked best for me were not what “set me up for success,” but rather, what I found made me feel calmer and happier throughout the day.
If you’re like me, and simply wish to opt for a day without stress, then I’ve got three tiny suggestions:
Ditch that to-do list.
Okay, this is more like a thing to not do. I know it might seem controversial, but bear with me. It’s a fast-paced world we are living in, and there is this growing pressure to be productive all the time. But just as continuously procrastinating and putting off things is bad, so is forcing yourself to absolutely make something out of the day.
There is beauty in spontaneity, and if you let yourself go with the flow, you might actually find yourself doing more things than if you had planned them. If you’re crazy about organisation and playful stationery then, by all means, you do you. But if you’re more like me, and looking at “undone” things on a piece of paper at the end of the day makes you feel bad, then ditch it. Make mental notes or if you’re the forgetful type (I know I am) then use Post-it notes to remind you of the really important stuff. Add a smiley face on it too. Maybe even your favourite quote.
The not-so-important things do not need reminding of. There’s no need to remind yourself to practice Spanish for half an hour. If you love learning languages, it will come naturally!
Adopt the noting technique.
I’ve started getting more into meditation lately and even though it certainly helps, I’m not always in the mood for it. Sometimes I find myself stressing about the prospect of meditating. The idea of sitting still and becoming suddenly more aware of your thoughts (in order to then dissipate them) occasionally makes me feel anxious. But then I found out about this noting technique (by Headspace), which is a simple exercise you can do throughout the day if you don’t feel like committing to a whole session of meditation.
Whenever a thought (or a physical sensation) arises that either distracts you or makes you feel uncomfortable, you simply “note it” as thinking or feeling, and then you let it go. I find this especially helpful in the mornings, as a “bad thought” can give an unfortunate start to the day and stick with you throughout it.
Create a morning playlist, and dance with it.
If your job happens to be one that requires you to wear dull, unimaginative clothes or to be polite to people who are insanely rude, this is the time to be you. Make a playlist with the most uplifting songs according to your taste, and press the play button as soon as you blink your eyes open (or maybe give yourself a minute or two). I know it sounds superfluous and unnecessary, but your subsequent mood will entirely depend on how you choose to spend these first waking moments.
If you choose, for example, to turn on the TV and listen to the news, it will probably set a wrong tone for the day. There’s also a huge difference between choosing to listen to November Rain first thing in the morning to dancing to Abba (and pretending three charming men have fallen in love with you). Just allow yourself to be ridiculous. Don’t try to make your dance sexy or sensuous, or even “free-spirited.”
Let yourself loose and dance in your own unique rhythm. Be unforgivably and embarrassingly real!