How did you start your day today? I have recently been reminded of how many people start their day in a way that gives them a disadvantage from the start – it goes something like this…
I wake when the alarm goes off and go, ‘Oh shit!’, because I am still tired and wish I didn’t have to get up yet. Then I throw myself out of bed, with my mind already thinking about all the things I have to do today. I have a shower, using up the shampoo/shower gel that no-one else is using up, put on some clothes that will do for today, and go downstairs. I switch on the news, just to depress myself a little more, and eat/drink something – I don’t actually know what it is unless I look at it, as I am not tasting it, just shoving it down while my mind carries on with its busyness! And then I pick up my things, and go to the car to face the awful traffic at this time in the morning.
If you took a snapshot of me as I leave the house, you would realise that I already have a frown on my face, my shoulders are hunched, and I look miserable. And then I have to drive to work, where I am of course going to have a great day!!!
Is this too extreme, or do you recognise it? If you start your day like this, it is a miracle if you ever have a good day! You have not connected with your body or the world around you at all, you have already predicted your day with your thoughts, and you have treated yourself very badly – would you welcome a baby back into the world in the morning like that?
So what is the alternative? Well, it requires that you take allow an extra five minutes in your morning as a minimum, but the pay-off is enormous. It goes like this…
I wake up when the alarm goes off and allow myself one more minute in bed, snuggling into its comfort. I then get out of bed gently, allowing my body to properly wake up, and take a breathspace to smile at the lovely colours in my duvet, or the picture I have on the wall – (most of us have something in our bedroom we chose because we like the look of it – and if you haven’t, get something!). I have a shower, using something I love the smell of, a favourite shower gel and shampoo. And I use my best perfume or after-shave – who told us we were supposed to save favourites for best? No child would do that with anything that was a favourite! Now I get dressed, choosing to wear something that will make me feel good: I may need a bright colour or something that feels nice against my skin, or just something that is really comfortable – and if there are rules about what I can wear for work, I can always wear something underneath that makes me feel good – no-one will know but me!
Notice that so far, I have been thinking about the comfort of being in bed, the look of things around me, the smells in the bathroom and the sensation of the shower, and the feel and look of my clothes – I haven’t gone into the future yet.
I go downstairs and put on some music that will make me feel good – sometimes something soothing, sometimes something lively or that just makes me want to dance or smile. After all, people will always talk about it if there is anything important happening in the news – I will find out soon enough. Now I am going to have breakfast – notice that the word means breaking my fast – I haven’t eaten or drunk anything for quite a while, so I make sure it is something I like, and savour that first taste.
In total, my extra activities have probably taken me about 2 of my extra five minutes – 1 minute in bed and some seconds appreciating the sensations I have – so now I have the luxury of something else to make me feel good before I go to work – 3 minutes is ages! I could have a second coffee, stroke the cat, do a couple of crossword clues in the paper, look at the flowers in my garden – I might even say something pleasant to someone else in the household!! Perhaps most importantly, I can consider how I am going to make the rest of my day work well, to keep up the good mood.
This time, if you took a snapshot as I leave the house, I would have a smile on my face, be more relaxed in my body, and probably have a favourite cd in my hand, to play while I sit in traffic! Maybe this time I really will have a good day at work!
We all tend to underestimate our own power to choose how our life is and how we are. We assume that things just happen to be the way they are, and forget to notice that we tend to have the sort of day we are expecting – which suggests that we play an active part in creating the tone of the day.
When we first wake, we are setting ourselves up for the rest of the day. We are showing ourselves how we are going to be and what the day is going to be like. If we treat ourselves kindly, and put ourselves in a good mood, if we notice the things that make us feel good and pay them attention, if we choose to think about how we can make our day work as well as possible, then we have set a different tone to our day. It might not be perfect, but it is far more likely to work well for us than if we start the day by making ourselves feel like crap!!
Come on, give yourself a chance – you wouldn’t treat your best friend or your child as badly as you do yourself! And even if you don’t feel you can do it for your own benefit, just think of the pay-off for others – you will be so much easier to be around!
The morning ritual
- Enjoy the comfort of your bed for a moment
- Notice the lovely colours in your bedroom
- Use your favourite smells in the bathroom
- Wear something that makes you feel good
- Listen to some favourite music that sets the right mood
- Have something you love the taste of for breakfast, and savour the taste
- Do one more thing to make yourself feel in a good mood