Believe it or not, how you spend the first hour of your day can have significant effect on your mood, motivation, mental energy and health. In all cultures, it is dictated that the day must be started with a mild stretch, a walk, a bath and praying. This inculcates a good metabolism, mood and clarity of mind. There is a reason this protocol has been followed over centuries and after scientific analysis and research we are back to square one. Let us elaborate on the activities a day must start with and why:
- Mild Exercise and Stretches: The body acts in a way where you need to stretch. This is due to the reason that stretching improves circulation, relieves tension and increases flexibility that the body needs before doing any activity.
Lying in the same position for an elongated period of time causes the body to develop stiffness, hence it must be ‘warmed up’ before you start a task. Similarly, this also translates to joint flexibility. Stretching makes the blood move faster and bring circulation to the extremities. Try doing the stretches for 30 seconds to relieve any mental or physical stress carried forward from the previous day.
You can start by a normal arms stretch, slight back twist, stretching upwards and toe touching. For a proper stretching routine try the yoga asana Suryanamaskar.
- Avoid any tech contact: Stop making your phone the first point of contact in your life. Research suggests checking your phone first thing in the morning has a negative effect on your mental health as notifications from the previous day make you feel like you have cloud over your head, leaving you hesitant to get up.
According to Sid Savara, an expert in time management and personal development, says that the minute you check your email in the morning, “you risk doing what someone else wants you to do.”
If it’s the alarm clock you worry about, buy a traditional one as a bedside object and it will work wonders for you. The rays from electronic display can make you in fact more lazy and put your right back towards oversleeping.
- Freshen yourself up:
Drink a small glass of water to get your system running and avoiding any dehydration from the previous night.
A splash of cold water on your face improves mood, brings blood circulation to the face and relieves any tension you might have stocked up. Taking care of personal hygiene gives a sense of freshness and optimism.
Now the most significant part – a cold shower. A cold shower (you can adjust the temperature a little bit in winters but not too much) provides immune-friendly changes and increases your body’s lymphatic, circulatory and digestive systems to initiate a healthy effect on your body.
It can also help decrease symptoms of depression so you know it is a feel good activity. If nothing else, it will activate you and what’s as good as a little screaming in the morning?
- Do your chores and make your bed – These are not to increase the quality of your life but make you avoid stress in the morning and clear your mind.
Cleaning up, organizing, packing yourself lunch, brewing coffee, disposing your dirty clothes from the previous day are some activities. Also, you will have a small sense of achievement right in the morning and come back to a tidy environment after a stressful day as well. It surely does not mean the ones who make their bed are any less busy but instead most of the times, are productive.
71 percent of bed makers consider themselves happy; while 62 percent of non-bed-makers admit to being unhappy. Bed makers are also more likely to like their jobs, own a home, exercise regularly, and feel well rested, whereas non-bed-makers hate their jobs, rent apartments, avoid the gym, and wake up tired [source: psychologytoday.com]
- Visualize & plan your day ahead: There is strength in the power of visualization. When you see yourself doing something, you will have the will to go ahead and do them as well.
This does not mean checking your email and start working. These are the goals you have set for yourself and want to achieve. Think about them, plan how you will go about them and add a few things in your weekly planner or todo list if anything pops in your head.
You will be one step ahead already. Before doing anything, you have started to achieve your goals.
Essentially, you have to avoid a stressful motivation of something left incomplete or something you need to complete. Do not confuse accomplishment with negativity towards tasks you do not want to think about, but do them instead.
Keeping your head clear for the first hour of your day will increase your overall productivity throughout the day.