Waking up is hard to do. Yes, I know. How incredibly pithy, witty and play-on-wordy of me, however, let’s be real, it is. And we don’t always wake up the best way for our start of the day. Whoa! I’m on a poetic roll, aren’t I?
ANYway, we started looking into how to help all our friends and neighbors continue the benefits of a great night’s sleep by having a fantastic wake-up routine and found this 30-minute “how to” that we found rather intriguing. And, so, in our effort to always bring you the best, brightest and worthwhile info that we can over here, I agreed to try it out for myself before passing it along to you. We gave ourselves the challenge of trying it out for a week to get a feel for what to expect. Here’s what happened.
First… No phone and think only positive thoughts for 2 minutes
We have that inclination to check our phones the moment we wake up. We use them as alarm clocks, to check the time, to check the weather, to check for texts, to check our email, to check… you get the drift.
The number one step upon waking is to NOT look at your phone and to think positive, life-affirming thoughts for the first two minutes of your day. I use my mobile as my alarm clock — yep, guilty — and whatever powers that be came up with this system said that was okay, just don’t look at it again. Fine. The first day I screwed up. I jumped out of bed as usual totally forgetting I had made this commitment to my morning routine-a-thon. So I switched my first day to night, changing it from a “wake-up” routine to a “wind-down” sort of deal. I lay in my bed gauging what five minutes might be — remember, I can’t look at my phone so I couldn’t use it as a timer either — thinking positive, happy things. It took me a moment to be a bit more centered and focused, but I went for it then did it again the next morning.
Second… Some deep breathing, ways to stay centered and mindful for 5 minutes
I’m a big believer in meditation. It’s something that really helps me face the day, so this part of in through the nose out through the mouth and keeping some affirmative, mindful thoughts felt pretty easy and welcome. What is a mindful thought? Well, “Gratitude affirmations,” as says Dr. Nicole Bernard Washington, a board-certified psychiatrist and the chief medical officer at Elocin Psychiatric Services. “The benefit is to clear your thoughts and allow you to start the day with a clear mind.” Got it, okay. So, I lay in my bed, trying not to think about the fact that I’m winging the 5-minute mark, and was thankful for, well, a bunch of stuff. I’ve got amazing kids, adorable dogs, a killer family, awesome friends, and a giant yard rampant with gophers. Aahh….
Third… (and ironically, the hardest for me) spend 5 minutes journaling
I hate journaling. I really, really, REALLY do. It’s that thing that makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs. I’ve found my living, my passion is writing. There is nothing I don’t like about it… except to put down my thoughts in the moment. Really, who cares what I’m thinking? I have that tendency to look back and realize I have not evolved as much as I would like. What a bummer. But then I read this from Christie Tcharkhoutian, M.A., MFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist. She’s discovered that “writing upon waking” is beneficial. Writing continues that creative flow from your dream life into your day as opposed to automatically waking up and looking at your phone, which can put a creative block and interfere with your ability to stay present. “Some brain research suggests that this practice is helpful for brain integration because it helps to integrate parts of the brain that involve linguistic and creative capabilities, setting a tone of creativity and balance for the rest of the day,” she says. “Writing something positive — such as three things you are grateful for or a positive intention for the day — can help to improve mood throughout the day. Our dream life and subconscious work overtime in our sleep and channeling that stream of consciousness as soon as you wake up into writing helps to feel more connected and mindful throughout your day. Writing continues that creative flow from your dream life into your day as opposed to automatically waking up and looking at your phone, reading and consuming information which can put a creative block and interfere with your ability to stay present throughout the day.”
If there’s one thing I’m all about it’s taking that creativity throughout my day and incorporating my dream life into my awake life. That’s the Sleep Club way, people. So…
Fourth...write down what you need to do that day
You know the deal — your to-do list. Okay. The point with this, however, is to help you check them off and feel you’ve accomplished something, give you purpose and positive affirmation through action. I decided to write 5 things I needed to do that day and attack them in hopes I’d get them done. And, well… we’ll get to that.
Fifth… Take the next 10 to 12 minutes kicking it with family (and that includes pets)
The love we have in our lives, the caring we share out in our world usually includes other people or beings. The goal is to spend quiet, quality and calming time with those you love. For me, it’s my dogs. I’ve got two giant sons living with me who go to school and work late hours, so they’re asleep when I wake up. But my dogs, my girls, are right there, gazing at me fondly, curled beside me, and I decided that every morning I would walk them, just us, being with them. As Forrest Talley, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist shares, “ The bond between [pet] owners and their pets is often very strong, and a source of significant happiness. Including a little quality time in the morning ensures this bond is not neglected.”
Now, I’ve said the last 10-12 minutes, but the routine suggests you can use the last 2 minutes to go on your phone if you like. Since I was committing to the whole 30-minute morning routine thing, I decided not to give myself over to my phone until I was done with the half-an-hour preparation for my day.
How’d I do?
I wobbled, I’ll be honest. At least at first. That journaling thing, people. Holy crap! But, since starting this, I’ve embraced it. I don’t write every morning, but what has happened is I don’t touch my phone other than to turn it off from waking me up. My dogs and I walk every morning, I lay in bed relaxing, being with myself and I feel like I face the day with more of, well, me — the inherent, real me. And I never even knew I wasn’t there. Odd, isn’t it?
Last things last…
Thirty-minutes of morning wake-up time may seem like a lot to you. It did to me. After all, if you’re “go, go, GO!” in your life, most of us figure you’ve got to jump up out of bed and hit the ground running, literally. But is it really? We’re talking about time to give to yourself and don’t you deserve it? If you’re like me, there’s no way around what you need to get done in the course of the day, but it can wait for you, can’t it? Wait for you to give something to yourself that you so rarely do these days — time for you?
Christopher Walken said, “None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an afterthought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else."
And no time like the present.