Just as breakfast is considered, the most important meal of the day, getting off to a good start in your mind, is important to having a great day. I love watching the sunrise and the gorgeous and gentle glow it casts over the lake just outside my bedroom window. Easing into my morning at a slowed down pace is the perfect set-up for me to go forth and have a successful day.
Here are some ideas to consider that might help you ease into your mornings as well:
1. Wake up naturally, without an alarm clock, at least once a week if you can. This will help you reconnect with your bodily cycles. Note that going to bed an hour earlier will not necessarily bring forward your natural waking time by an hour - you may find that you lie awake, worrying that cannot sleep. If your bodily cycles make you a night owl at heart, go with the flow and have a weekend lie-in when you need one. If you are a lark, spring out of bed when the time seems right -- you may find there is time before breakfast to do some worthwhile meditation.
My Secret: I have come to enjoy Dr. Wayne Dyer's, Change Your Thoughts Meditation (Do the Tao Now!) CD. Based on his New York Times bestselling book titled Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life. It is filled with wonderful principles to meditate on and produce the calm and focus needed in these stressful days.
2. Let sunlight wake you through open curtains or shades. If the light floods in early, use the extra time gained (3) to plan the day, prepare for it mentally, or do an exercise routine.
My Secret: Awaking to the sunrise is my absolute favorite part of the day. There is just something very special about experiencing that time as I begin my day. It feels so still and peaceful during the early hours. I look forward to those moments day after day. After I enjoy a lite breakfast, I then head off to the gym (only three days). After a good workout, I am convinced my day will be amazing and filled with more moments that are wonderful.
4. Let music wake you. Set the timer on your CD-player to wake you with a piece that starts very quietly and either continues in that vein or builds up slowly to a higher volume.
My Secret: I add music into my life much like I would use a condiment. I pick the right music for the moment. Smooth jazz and classical are the genres I listen to most. However, during a workout, I prefer music that is more upbeat. (I am convinced it gives me the "power" to get through the 6:00 a.m. or earlier workout.)
5. Draw insights from dreams in the morning while they are still fresh. We cannot confirm the truth of dream symbolism, the unconscious runs no helpline! However, if, in a spirit of adventure, we start to explore possible meanings of dreams, we can usually arrive intuitively at constructive insights, which heighten self-awareness and feed into our subsequent tranquility. Why not keep a dream diary (6) in which to record your dreams so that you can review them later in the day? Writing them down will help to free you from any anxieties of the night, leaving you ready to face the day in a positive frame of mind.
7. Immediately on waking, "think how you can give joy to at least one person today." These are the word of the nineteenth-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche -- a surprising person to have come up with such an uplifting thought, as he is more often associated with deeply skeptical, angst-ridden philosophy.
8. Use a dimmer switch in the mornings to increase light levels by stages -- so that your days start gently.
9. Enjoy the symphony of noise that penetrates your bedroom -- the traffic outside, the birdsong, etc. Do not let extraneous noises stress you, just because you are not in control of them. Instead, imagine that all of these sounds are a wonderful random concert for which you have a privileged free ticket. Listen mindfully. Enjoy each cacophonous moment.
10. Engage all five senses each morning, as soon as you awaken. The sight of sunlight, the sound of birdsong, the feel of a towel, the taste of fruit juice, the smell of toast -- check off each sense in turn as the brain-signals flood in.
These are just a few tips that have proven to be helpful for me. I will continue to share stress reducing tips on an ongoing basis.
I love your suggestions, particularly the idea of thinking about how you can bring joy to one person that day. Being somebody who's braved depression for a number of years, I sometimes have found that the mornings are the most difficult times to make it through. Now, instead of greeting the day with misgivings or sadness, I do as much as I possibly can to remember everything there is to be grateful for, including the amount of joy I am capable of giving to other people.