May is for Mornings
Updated: May 15
Take a moment, and think about the last time you jumped out of bed, excited to face the new dawn. Why or what was it that put you in such a positive state of mind? No doubt there was something you looked forward to. Instead of hitting the snooze button, wouldn’t it be wonderful to start each day with the same sense of zest and anticipation?
It’s not just about avoiding the frustration that comes from running out of the house eating nothing but a granola bar, or the need to finish putting on your make-up in the car. It’s not even about the white-knuckle commute to get to work in time. Being organized and productive may be the primary motivator for many, but there is another key factor to consider: being the Machiavellian of your mornings is about improving the quality of your life.
It is an investment into yourself.
Imagine coming home knowing you stayed on top of your day. You have a gratifying sense of accomplishment versus running around feeling as if you’re one step behind the rest of the world. We have no control over what we encounter during the day, but we can get ourselves in the best frame of mind to ease through it with confidence and a positive outlook. This begins with the actions you take the moment you wake up.
Spring is the perfect time to take a closer look at your routine and either revamp or introduce a new one. Take an honest look at how you begin your day. Taking stock on where you’re at when it comes to mornings can significantly improve your life. On top of the emotional and physical benefits, there is the positive impact on your relationships with people in your circle – families, friends, colleagues – and yourself of course.
“When you take control of your mornings,
you take control of your days.
You get to engage with the world under your terms.
You act, instead of react”
– Hal Elrod, Author, Keynote Speaker, Success Coach
Hundreds of thousands of people are familiar with The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod where he shares an acronym on how to structure your mornings. SAVERS stands for Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading and Scribing. Like those who read Elrod’s book, I tried to incorporate SAVERS into my morning routine. I learned his wise words to be an ideal guide but had to tweak things in order to incorporate them to my lifestyle. If you are able to include all the SAVERS in your morning routine, all the power to you. But if you’re just starting, or fine-tuning your morning routine, you may want to take it slow.
Here are a few tips to get you off on the right foot:
Don’t hit snooze! Determine the night before when you should wake up and then stick to that time. That will be different for everyone depending on their circumstances and what they need to do before heading out to work. This magic number involves coinciding the sleep hours you need to function and feel your best, along with your personal circadian rhythm. Don’t feel pressure from the productivity gurus who get up at 4:30 a.m. sharp every day, jump into their workout clothes, and go for a ten-mile jog. Instead, listen to your body. It knows. Some people just don’t function at their best in the morning, and that’s okay. You can still incorporate healthy habits that work with your personal cadence. Your body knows what works best so don’t force it to wake up at 5:00 a.m. if you are biologically wired to be most productive after midnight.
“Nobody in Bapan [Villiage in China] had an alarm clock.
When we’re hitting at least seven hours of sleep on a regular basis,
and a regular schedule, something quite amazing happens:
We get the exact amount of sleep our bodies need
without having to be jarred awake
by a buzzer before we’re really ready.”
– Dr. Dr. John D. Day,
Author of The Longevity Plan, Cardiologist
Stretch. We’ve covered the importance of movement, and especially stretching for your health. This can take shape in the form of several minutes, to a warm-up prior to your regular movement or exercise routine. I so envy those who jump out of bed elated and keen (my husband is one). I for one need time to catch up to their energy and stretching is key to getting my body physically prepared to do what I need to do the rest of my day.
"Hydration is incredibly important, especially after waking up.
I always find that this larger quantity of water
provides incredible energy and prepares my body for the day ahead."
– Jeff Sanders, Author of The 5 A.M. Miracle,
Keynote Speaker & Productivity Coach
Hydrate. The night before, have a sixteen-ounce beaker of water on your nightstand. Upon waking and as you move through your morning routine, drink up. Not only does this cleanse your body of the toxins accumulated while you slept, but it also replenishes and invigorates your body helping you wake up faster. For more on the myriad benefits of staying hydrated, please read the blog April is for Aqua.
Quiet Time. Oh, I can hear it already. “How am I going to sit quietly when I have kids to get up and news to listen to and, and, and…” Trust me on this one – even if it is only for five minutes (consider setting your alarm clock five minutes earlier). My favourite time of the day is the quiet before the chaos. If you incorporate quiet time into your morning habit, I promise it will be the primary motivator to get you up and going. It may be difficult in the beginning to focus on the silence as your brain tends to be a bit of a chatterbox. But when you consistently manage the start of your day, your brain begins to trust all is taken care of, and it will become easier to stay focused in the present. Feeling grounded, centred, and calm are three of the many blessings this tranquility brings to your life. You may even decide to lengthen the ‘quiet’ time and incorporate a practice such as meditation, breathing or mindfulness.
“I am the Greatest. I said that even before I knew I was.”
– Mohammed Ali, Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World,
Olympic gold medalist, Philanthropist & Social Activist
Affirmations. Every morning Mohammed Ali took the time to recite affirmations that empowered him. He believed that repeating simple, positive phrases over and over to himself, would change his internal belief system therefore adjusting his mindset and actions. He is not alone in his thinking. There is rarely a self-help book or article that does not promote positive affirmations. It may seem a little silly at first, maybe even a little self-indulgent. But there is a fair amount of neuroscientific evidence (even MRI evidence) that proves Ali’s theory is right. This is a simple technique to counteract human negative self-talk. Think of affirmations as reminder statements to your unconscious mind that you are strong, successful, organized, loved – you get the gist. What makes affirmations effective, is doing them regularly – like daily. Try creating your own, but if you’re stumped, the internet is simply bursting with amazing examples. My personal favourite: “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.”
Notice I have not yet included to check your desktop, laptop, mobile phone or any other technology for messages. To do so before your morning routine potentially pilfers precious time away from you. We all know what it is like to peek at an email, or a news bulletin, only to get distracted and lose total momentum. But now you have completed your morning routine so this would be the ideal time to review your day – whatever that means for you. Check your calendar, planner, email etc. this includes checking in with family members to review daily carpools and activities.
By now you begin to see a familiar thread. The more preparation you make, the more fluid your morning will go. The success of this habit is contingent on you reviewing the evening before so you can identify goals (no more than three) and prioritize your to-do list. Do what needs doing to be ready for next day: choose your clothes, pack the lunches, place whatever you need in the morning by the front door.
Here are some tips to turn this morning routine into a daily habit:
Be consistent – the only way to develop a habit is to do it every day. The only way to do that is to make it something you enjoy. If the thought of hitting the gym first thing in the morning makes you cringe – don’t do it! Instead create a routine that includes movement in a way you enjoy.
Be flexible – life is unpredictable. If your child gets up earlier than usual, or your friend calls for marriage advice, it happens. Turn those mishaps into moments of connection and growth. Some mommy-and-me time, or the opportunity to be there for a friend are favourable circumstances. Adapt, but go with the flow, and as much as possible stick to the routine.
This is your morning you are designing, so you choose what you want to incorporate and in the order that works for you. Nothing is written in stone. Make it your own!
Remember that setting up for success means starting small. Begin by incorporating the suggestions above: get up when you wake up, stretch, hydrate, recite positive affirmations and make time for quiet time. Then build from there. Once these five have become a daily habit, you may choose to extend the time you spend on them e.g., your 5-minute stretch turns to a 15-minute walk. Or you may choose to introduce more or even all of Elrod’s SAVERS and add visualization, meditation, or journaling in some form or another. I can’t say enough about reading. It is instrumental to your overall mental and emotional wellbeing. Read something that inspires you, or broadens your understanding or perspective, or in some way improves the overall quality of your lifestyle or relationships. Or incorporate things you’ve always been meaning to but just couldn’t get organized. Like setting an intention for the day, starting a gratitude journal or a sit-down breakfast with the family.
You may already have a morning routine that checks all your boxes, and it may even provide that sense of sweet serenity as you move through your day. That is wonderful! Keep doing what you’re doing. But if you don’t, consider custom designing your morning for the month of May.
Once this habit becomes routine, you will see the magic a morning ritual has to transform your life. Instead of dreading the mornings you look forward to them. You smile and tell yourself the sun came up and it’s a most beautiful day. Wonder what will come my way today.