Picture a morning full of chaos...whatever "chaos" means to you. For me, it's whining children upset about their outfits, a husband scrambling out of the door to avoid/ignore incoming "chaos" and a laundry list of tasks that absolutely CANNOT fit into the 17 minutes left before you have to leave out the front door. Sound chaotic to you?
Maybe your chaos is waking to a dog who has pooped on your favorite decorative rug...or a sick child puking on the floor...or maybe even a last second realization that an important work assignment is due in less than five minutes! Whatever it is, we have all experienced our version of chaos in the mornings when it's time to head out, show up and be ready. Annoying is an understatement for how that feels, right?
I'm completely guilty of letting these tough mornings lead to tough days. I sometimes expect it. I almost WELCOME it. It's insane to think about now. As if I believe in my mind that a bad start to a morning HAS TO equal a completely bad day. Well, the truth is, it doesn't. While we can't control everything that happens TO us, we can ALWAYS control how we respond. So, in the spirit of no longer expecting or accepting the worst after a bad start, here are my five top tips to counteract a tough morning.
1. SMILE. - Sounds simple right? It can be extremely difficult when you're upset or frustrated. But do your best to force a bright smile out while looking in the mirror. That perceived joy and happiness is often contagious. Hopefully you'll catch it and when you head out and about during your day, others will catch it too.
2. Take 5 minutes (or 2 or 3...whatever you can manage) to BREATHE. - I'm a firm believer that oxygen and water can cure almost anything. And even scientific studies have shown that deep breathing techniques can calm anxiety. Often times, the stress of your morning results in a feeling of anxiety for the duration of your day. Inhale as deeply as you can and exhale as long as you can. You will be surprised at just how therapeutic this process can be.
3. Dedicate the next 30 minutes you have available to PLANNING something exciting. - It can be a staycation, a solo vacation or even a self-care day! Just take some time to enjoy the idea of a mental and/or physical get-a-way. Book the hotel, scout the area for fun activities, schedule a pamper service, whatever! Taking some time to "fantasize," if you will, can be a major mood booster. Thinking about things that bring you joy and happiness is a sure fire way to well, bring you some joy and happiness.
4. Express yourself! - It might seem counterproductive to some, but holding things in leads to more stress, anxiety and potentially anger and sadness. Tell someone about your frustrations. This could be the people causing some of the frustration, or a friend, a therapist, a close co-worker, whomever you feel comfortable talking to. This isn't an opportunity to dump on an unsuspecting friend or to argue with your spouse before you start you day, but it is a chance to speak your truth (briefly) so that you can effectively get it off your chest. The likelihood of moving on and having a better day is much greater if you're not harboring all of your sad/mad/angry/stressful feelings the rest of the day.
5. Spend a few minutes stretching. - Yes, I said, stretching. It's a well-known fact that exercise releases chemicals in your body that improve your mood, but most people don't realize that similar chemicals are released from simply stretching. Think about how good a deep yawn and overhead stretch feels first thing in the morning. Right!? So, try it. The next time your family is conspiring to ruin your day with a tough morning (joking), stop and stretch the muscles of your upper back, chest, the front and back of your thighs and your neck. You will feel better instantly and from an activity that can take less than three minutes.
Remember, you can't control every aspect of your morning (or your life, for that matter), but you can control your response and how you counteract the negative forces and feelings. You can use strategies to decrease the potential chaos of your morning, but ultimately, there will be times when things are chaotic. Instead of jumping on the crazy train and prepping for a bad day, try these tips to help improve your outlook on the day ahead. Do your best to feel your best. Here's to better mornings and regardless, AMAZING days to come.