Take Epsom salt baths. Okay, so maybe you’re a little too hurried to bathe leisurely in the morning, but that’s only because you’ve structured your schedule that way. Get to bed earlier and wake up so your morning isn’t a miserable trek through stress-inducing tasks. Epsom salts (especially the eucalyptus ones) remove toxins and ease muscle tension and pain, among other health benefits. Technicalities (or claims) aside, you step out feeling like layers of stress were lifted off of you.
Set intentions. It’s not that much different than scribbling down your “to do” list except for one major factor — your intentions don’t have to be tasks and responsibilities. To be most effective, they should be how you’ll approach your tasks and responsibilities. To not have anxiety on your morning commute, to answer your emails first thing in the morning rather than put them off, etc.
Put on something warm as soon as you get up. When you’re not being lured back into the warmth of your bed, it makes it a hell of a lot easier to actually get through your morning tasks.
Rather than meditate, learn to just sit quietly for a few minutes. One of my favorite calming/centering practices is just “sitting,” which is like meditating, except it doesn’t come with the frustrations of trying to achieve zen. Sit without the distractions of media or entertainment or TV or other people for a little bit. You don’t have to close your eyes or anything, and you don’t have to focus on your breath if you don’t want to. I do it with tea in the morning, and it helps me focus to center rather than constantly be pulled in 5 different directions as soon as I wake up.
Read a book — not the newspaper, and not your Twitter feed. It’s tempting to want to scroll and be up to date with whatever’s happening in the world, but it ultimately just pulls you into the never-ending rat race of status updates and relentless news. Try waking up to read a few pages of a book in the morning instead.
Make a list of your most basic tasks and cross them off as you do them. By basic I mean, “get up,” “brush your teeth.” The reason isn’t so you actually remember to do these things, but that once you get that sense of achievement and momentum, it grows throughout your morning and then throughout your day. The productive only get more productive and vice versa. Ease yourself into it in the simplest way possible.
Keep your phone on the other side of the room when you go to sleep so it’s not the first thing you look at when you wake up. No good day is beginning by you being inundated with emails before you’re even out of bed. Not to mention, if your alarm is your phone, it forces you to get up to turn it off.
Make sure your sleep schedule matches your circadian rhythm. I recommend the app Sleep Cycle to assist you with this. Work with your body, not against it. Figure out what your best wake-up time is and how many hours you need to function best.
Envision. Before you actually get up, set aside a few minutes to lay there (if you can do so without falling asleep) and imagine exactly what you want your day to look like — or better yet, what you want your day to feel like. Structure instantly combats anxiety and you need to take a few minutes to help cultivate your mindset for whatever it is the day holds.
Stretch in bed. I’m not a “get out of bed and go running in the freezing cold” kind of gal, but I will stretch while still laying in bed. It doesn’t feel like a huge discomfort and eases tensions of maybe having slept in a strange position or what not.
If you’re going to wake up early for anything, make it something you can look forward to, like maybe a quick massage. It’s not an unrealistic thing: you can get a 10 minute massage for $10, which is both totally do-able and completely changes the tone of your day. Regardless of whether or not your choice of activity is getting your shoulder kinks out, it should be something that’s either relaxing or exciting, ideally both.
Text someone good morning. Aside from such messages being lovely to receive, it makes you feel connected.
Decide on something you’re going to treat yourself to later on in the day. We all know the lure of Friday night drinks and dinner is enough to get us through the week, but what about deciding that you’re going to grab your favorite drink from your favorite coffee place at 3 p.m.? Making (or ordering) your favorite dinner when you get home? Deciding you are going to watch two hours of Netflix with absolute abandon, and feel no guilt for it? Decide on something and let it be your motivation to get everything else done.
Respect your limitations. If you’re never going to be someone who can actually get up and run three miles before work, don’t force it. There’s stepping out of your comfort zone and growing, and then there’s just being untrue to what actually brings you fulfillment. People do a lot of things disingenuously, but start your morning off respecting yourself and your day will follow that trajectory, too.