How do you usually start your day? Do you wake up with the idea “I just fell asleep, it can’t be morning already” and then sleep for another 15 minutes which really doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. That extra 15 minutes you slept then start the famous domino effect that puts you 15 minutes behind the rest of your day. This causes you to often trade that healthy bowl of oatmeal for a pop tart or even worse you decide to stop by the McDonalds drive thru for a quick injection of fat, sodium and cholesterol. Of course those extra 15 minutes of sleep causes you drive like a maniac as you swerve in an out of traffic while getting yourself stressed out before you even get to work. Was that extra bit of sleep really worth it?
Many people (and I was one of them too) think the morning is just an awful time of the day when you have to get out of bed with your eyes still closed and try to stumble around in order to get ready to start another day. By the time you finally wake up and get going you already feel stressed, depressed and angry with everything and everybody in this world. I underestimated the importance of the morning for many years but now I think I finally found the ideal way to start my day. Starting your morning right is one of the most important links in the chain of a balanced life. Here are a few tips that work best for me and my husband.
- Get enough sleep. Most people need about 8 hours of sleep to feel well-rested during the day. Even if you have to wake up at 6 a.m. you can still get these precious hours by going to bed early. Stop watching TV too much and you will find plenty of time to do everything during the evening that you need to and get to bed at a decent time (my husband and I do not watch TV at all and for a year and a half we lived without a TV set in the house, but that’s a topic for another post).
- Get enough sleep. You would think that I made a mistake, but I really mean what I have just written. It is important to get enough sleep and not too sleep too much. As I’ve already mentioned most people need about 8 hours of sleep, sleeping more than that can ruin your day too. For some time my husband and I were working every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. that made us sleep longer than we actually should. At that time we were sleeping 10-11 hours a day and while many of you might think that it’s your dream I can tell you that our days were always messed up and we did not have time for anything. After three months of this regime we finally realized that it was not a very good idea and started moving slowly towards early mornings again.
- Start your day with a shower. A nice hot shower is the best way to wake up in the morning and there is simply nothing else that I can say about it.
- Start your day with music. Play any music that you like: classical, rock, party tunes, country … whatever makes you feel good will work.
- Do not watch TV or read a newspaper. Starting your day with a news block is one of the worst things that you can do. Your mind is fresh after a good night sleep, it is ready to work, ready to generate new thoughts but you fill it up at once with negative information about the economy, politics and anything else that the media likes to drag you down with.
- Exercise. Your body needs to wake up as well as your mind. I hated morning exercises for many years and always thought that it’s not for me but after the birth of my babies I had to change my opinion. While I still hate doing any vigorous exercises in the morning (running first thing in the morning makes me sleepy and tired for the whole day) I found out that Yoga (starting with the famous Sun Salutation) and Pilates give me tons of energy for the whole day. I am sure that anyone can find a proper activity for himself: walking, stretching, cycling, Yoga… the list can be endless. You can read more about my morning activities in Easy Ways to Fight the Flab: Simple Routines to Stay Lean and Mean
- Eat a balanced breakfast. Many of us skip breakfast: a) because we do not have enough time for it; b) because we are trying to lose weight and breakfast is the easiest meal to skip. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day (you must have heard it at least hundred times already) because it helps you control that blood sugar that helps controls your mood and your energy during the day. After 10-12 hours your body is completely out of fuel, so you need to refuel it before you start your day. A good breakfast will help you lose and maintain weight, reduce fatigue and sleepiness in the mid-morning hours, helps get rid of the blues, improves concentration and memory, increases alertness, and helps one function more efficiently. A perfect breakfast combination would be complex carbohydrates, protein and a little bit of good fat. Usually I do not have a lot of time for breakfast (like most of us) that is why I opt for a bowl of whole grain cereal (like Whole-grain Cheerios or Frosted Mini Wets) with skim milk and a cup of low-fat yogurt. Oatmeal with a few slices of cheese or a hard-boiled egg is another favorite of mine. When I have more time I make a fruit salad using all the fruits and berries that I have at home then add some yogurt and walnuts. It’s a really delicious meal: tasty, healthy and filling. For more good breakfast ideas you can read 10 Tasty, Easy and Healthy Breakfast Ideas or Healthy Breakfast: The best way to begin your day
- Do not make email your morning priority. While staying in touch with the world is very important it is much more important to start your day right. If the first thing in the morning you rush to your computer then you will miss those precious minutes that you can spend doing your morning exercises, fixing your breakfast and enjoying your life. Make a rule of checking email last before you leave the house. By doing so you won’t waste your time digging through all those funny links that your friends send you every day. Instead you will look through the most important emails while leaving all the clutter for later.
- Hang an inspiring morning picture in front of your bed. Every morning when my husband and I wake up we see a huge picture from our wedding that was the first happiest day of our life (the second one was when our twins were born). As soon as I see this picture I feel happy and inspired for the rest of the day. You can pick either a picture when you felt the happiest or find a really nice landscape or pick any other image that will make you feel happy when you look at it.
- Practice positive thinking. Starting your day with the thought “I didn’t get enough sleep so this day is doomed” “Another boring day at work” or “I just hate getting up” is not a very good way to start your day. Try thinking of something good like “The weather is great today, I will definitely go for a walk during lunch,” “It’s so wonderful that I am healthy and happy with my family”. The positive affirmations will be different for each of us; you just have to find your source of positive thoughts. You can start your day reading a Bible or praying if you are a religious person, meditating or just laying in bed and thinking about an upcoming holiday or a vacation that you are planning with your family. Start your day positive and your days will be much happier and less stressful than they’ve been before.
- Enjoy some intimacy with your partner in the morning. You can look at morning sex from the scientific point of view discovering all the health benefits that it can give you but I look at it from a simpler point of view. It’s just nice and pleasant to start your day with morning sex, your thoughts will be positive all day long and you will feel energized and laid back. I guarantee that waking up a little bit earlier will be totally worth it.
Start you day right every day and you will notice how dramatically your life will change in just a few months. Starting the day right is the beginning of your road to a balanced life and it’s the road to your ‘Balance in Me’. Enjoy your mornings and
Keep it balanced!
P.S. Finishing your day right is as important as starting your day right. Find out how by reading my post How to finish your day right and use my handy-dandy checklist of How to finish your day right – How to start your day right