Have you been asked, “Did you wake up in the wrong side of the bed this morning?” Been there, done that.
While some mornings are better than others, some mornings are downright bad that you just want a rewind and start over again. I got to thinking that if I believe that I own my emotions and therefore can manage them, perhaps I can do something about mornings and make every morning bring out the best version of me. Here’s what I came up with from researching what experts have to say as well as from my personal experience:
n Wake up smiling. Fake it till you make it. Smiling alone will summon all the happy hormones in your body to participate in the beautiful morning that is unfolding. The morning itself does not really change, but our body’s response to the morning has. If you want, you can even laugh out loud. Your diaphragm becomes engaged, your lungs expand, and a boost of oxygen supply is enjoyed by your body cells. It’s all good. Depending on your circumstance, it’s probably best to do this alone, or your family might think you lost it. Better yet, you can have your whole family involved in you laughing exercise. Imagine the benefit.
n Practice gratefulness. I have done this for a while. I cultivate the sense of gratefulness and I do this throughout the day as well. A growing body of knowledge supports the health benefits of feeling grateful. Try Googling “gratefulness” and see what you find. If you are good at blogging, you can start your own gratefulness blog and invite your family and friends to participate. You can also start a journal with a daily entry of five things you are grateful about. Expressing your gratitude is a prayer for more of the same wonderful things and experiences to come. A sense of gratitude makes less, more. Be thankful for a good night sleep, a roof over your head, the switch that turns on the light, the faucet that delivers water to your hands, the birds singing, the warm weather, the cool breeze, your car that takes you where you want to go, your job (some people wish to have), your health (some people only wish they have), it’s endless. Be thankful for every little thing. You will be amazed of what more beautiful things you will see and experience – things that you perhaps did not notice before.
n Move your body. One interesting study showed that how you use your body can dictate how you feel. If you wake up sluggish, dragging your feet, shoulders down with a sorry face to go with it, your mode follows. As crazy as it may sound, when you wake up, after you put on the smiling face, and the sense of gratitude, start dancing. Or simply wake your muscles and your skeletal system by engaging on some kind of activity. After meeting my physiologic needs in the morning, I put on my warm joggers, summon my eager German shepherd and go for a 20 minute walk. If you go out early enough, you get a bonus of enjoying a blissful sunrise experience. It’s priceless. It makes your heart sing.
n Feed your body. Our human body is an amazing assemblage of machineries with intricate feedback mechanisms aimed to create balance constantly. Just as any machine, it needs the right fuel to work efficiently. You don’t put diesel to a non-diesel car. You don’t give poison to your pet. Feed your body what it needs. It needs a balanced nutritious food every meal and in between. So many resources are available to figure out what is good for you. Seek professional guidance as needed. I go for a high protein, low carbohydrate morning meal.
n Feed your brain. We all have the capacity to learn. In fact, learning new things is one way to enhance our brain functions. Engaging in lifelong learning stimulates the development of new and rich pathways in our brain that can improve memory and critical thinking. Every morning commit to reading, listening to audio books, internet blogs that will expand your positive brain growth. If you have a smart phone and ear buds, you can feed your brain while you are walking by listening to audio materials. Feeding your brain positive information everyday will significantly add up resulting to a change in how you interpret what you see and experience in your world.
Having a plan for the day also helps. Before you go out the door, have a desired plan on how you want your day to go. Commit to have the best version of yourself at work or at play. Reframe the not so pleasant encounters. Focus on the joyful experiences. A few times in the day, just look around you and just be. Accept what is and harvest the good. And may you harvest more “good” this New Year.
A registered nurse, Dr. Elvie C. Ancheta is administrator of the California Department of Veterans Affairs’ William J. “Pete” Knight Veterans Home in Lancaster.