Recently, I wrote a science-based article (http://www.fulfillmentdaily.com/positivity-overrated/) on the power of positivity for our individual and societal health. Mornings are a crucial time for us to begin the practice of positivity. Our morning can frame our whole day, and we all want to start the day off right.
I wish I could tell you of all the perfect things that I do in the morning. You know, like wake up at 4:30 a.m., practice my yoga and meditation for 90 minutes, and honor the rising sun. Then after more glorious "me" time, where I read my spiritual books and sip my chai at leisure, I gently wake my kids and husband with kisses and a delicious made-from-scratch breakfast, and send them off to their day with their well-balanced lunches, complete with homemade parathas (that's freshly rolled and pan-fried leavened bread goodness, for you non-Indians).
Ummm... sure. Let's face it. Some of us just don't DO mornings. Our idea of a good morning is honestly, one where we can sleep in! But reality calls -- and for many working parents, mornings seem absolutely frenetic. We are trying to wake up our young kids, get their teeth brushed, get matching (or at least clean) clothes on, get breakfast ready, make lunches, and somehow, also get ourselves ready for work in the process, all within a very short timeframe. Many of us may feel that we do not have enough time to devote to our own sanity in the morning -- because we have hungry mouths to feed first, and morning meetings to get to, amid battling morning traffic. And quite frankly, many of us are sleep deprived because we stay up late -- not to party, but to work, because it's the only quiet time we have to focus.
So how can we non-early risers cope with mornings, and help others cope with us in the process? Here are five things I've learned that help no matter what kind of morning riser you are:
1. Start with ritual. Start with whatever brings you peace, and do it immediately after waking. Do it every day. For me, it's taking literally 60 seconds to breathe, acknowledge that I'm awake, and give reverence to the divine. I may not have 45 minutes to meditate every morning. It's OK. I meditate in the evening instead. I can still internally connect in the morning briefly, and it makes a huge difference in my day.
2. Greet your loved ones with a smile, and if you're grumpy, just don't talk. Honestly, sometimes silence is golden. Grunts, if somewhat musical, are permissible. Cuddles (they aren't just for kids) can really help cut that morning malaise.
3. Honor the morning routine. It's easy to get distracted by your adorable 6 year old who wants to show you his latest breakfast invention that involves sticky juice, a food that is no longer recognizable, and your finest jewelry. Don't do it. Don't get off track. Their lunches depend on it.
4. Breathe with presence and gratitude. Mornings are the best time to begin your informal mindfulness practice. Grounding yourself, by breathing into your body, connecting with your loved ones, and enjoying the pleasure of just not having your mind run like a roller coaster first thing in the morning, is refreshing in and of itself. Noting even ONE thing you feel grateful for in the morning (for me, it's usually Chai), perks up your mood and starts the morning off well.
5. If all else fails, go back to bed. Seriously, if you're a night person, but you need to be up in the mornings, carve out time for a short nap during the earlier part of the day if you can. Sleep deprivation causes premature aging and health complications. Who wants that? Even 10 minutes in your office chair can make a huge difference.