1. Set your pace for the day
The first golden rule I suggest is ‘the first thing you do in the morning is just for you’, it is not for work! Wake at your desired time, say 6am, and do 10 mindful breaths deep into your belly before you rush into the day. This will energise the body while oxygenating the brain and helps you take control of your morning pace (instead of waking up reactively with a phone in your face). When you practice deep breathing it calms the nervous system and initiates the relaxation response which mindfully prepares you for the day ahead and sets your pace to start the day in a calm manner.
2. Get moving any way you can
Do at least 20 mins of activity, this could be a brisk walk, jog, cycle, swim, yoga practice or any exercise routine that gets the body moving. This is not only good for your cardiovascular system and physical health, it’s also great for your mental health. Head outdoors if you to get some fresh air and morning light which triggers your serotonin production and arouses your energy levels for the day. This also sets up your circadian rhythm for a good nights sleep later in the evening. Win win! It doesn’t have to be high intensity exercise, it can simply be a morning walk if you prefer, (preferably without your phone) so you can move your body and clear your mind for the day ahead.
3. Find stillness for a few minutes
This can be two, five or ten minutes to sit quietly and gather your thoughts. This may very well be the last few minutes of quietness you get for the rest of the day ahead but it will help you gain clarity and stay calm under pressure when things get tough at work. You can anchor your mind on your breath and body to stay present and aware. This is also a form of attention training so it will train your mind to stay focused for prolonged periods of time at work.
4. Rewire your brain positively
At the end of the stillness practice you can take a few moments to rewire yourself to set positive intentions for the day ahead. Instead of reactively starting your day in a stressful way looking at the multitude of tasks ahead. You think of two or three key tasks for that day and set positive intentions to look forward to them, for example, you can say to yourself “I’m looking forward to that meeting today with John, or “I can’t wait to catch up Jess today for lunch”, or “I am so excited about my presentation today with the team”, and so on. This hardwires your brain to frame the day ahead in a positive manner instead of an overwhelmingly stressful approach.
5. Nourish the body and mind with a healthy breakfast
Whether you have this breakfast at home or when you get to work, please take the time to nourish the body with a nutritious breakfast instead of rushing to work with a few sips of coffee. The body needs energy to fuel the day ahead and the brain also consumes 50% of your available glucose so you need to top up your energy reserves with a healthy breakfast. Either you wake up a bit earlier for this or you prepare something simple like a healthy smoothie, try not to eat in a rush because the rest of your day will also feel rushed. Remember, you are what you eat, so be mindful of what you are putting into your body, especially first thing in the morning.