Each day when you awaken, in a fraction of a moment, the course of your day is set for you. There is brief moment in time that determines how the rest of your day will unfold for you. This small, yet profound, instant takes place before your eyes flutter open to meet the light of the day. You are awake in this moment, but are you aware?
As your eyes open and you begin to move about your day, the mind has already opened its floodgates to the thoughts. One-by-one the stream of thoughts rush in. Are you aware that you have anywhere between 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day? Assuming that you sleep eight hours per night and you are awake 16 hours of the day, on the low end that is 750 thoughts per hour and 3,750 on the high end.
Thoughts move in and out in a steady stream throughout our waking hours as you simultaneously move about your day; most thoughts going unnoticed, background noise at most. You might think that isn’t true for you, that you are aware of all of your thoughts. But the reality is that you are conscious of about only 5% of your thoughts. That means that the unconscious mind is running you on its auto-pilot mode, 95% of the time.
And while you are running around on auto-pilot mode, 95% of your thoughts are exactly the same as the day before. Ever feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog’s Day? Do your days stream together without much differentiation between one to the next? That is because your thoughts are the same, you are basically reliving the day prior.
And if all of this isn’t enough to wake you up to your thinking mind; 80% of your thoughts are negative. You are essentially living in the past of your negative experiences.
But this can change. You have the power to change your thoughts. To wake-up and break the cycles that are keeping you stuck.
There is a split moment between the awakening and the opening of the floodgates, a teeny, tiny moment before the thoughts begin to rush in. And it is in this moment that we have the power to set the course of our day.
Here are two simple things that you can do to experience more positive in your day:
1. At night, before you go to sleep, set the intention to have a great day the following day. Say to yourself “tomorrow will be a great day”. Use this phrase or choose another phrase that resonates with you.
2. When you awaken, before you open your eyes, before any thoughts stream in, as quickly as you can remember, consciously say to yourself “today is a great day”, or any other positive phrase that resonates with you. Then get up and begin your day.
That’s it. It really is that easy. But it is a practice and you are working to reprogram deeply engrained patterns. Be patient and gentle with yourself as it may take some time to get in flow with it. These two simple, yet profound, steps hold the power to change the course of your day by breaking the negative auto-pilot thought loops and creating new positive ones. Continue this practice daily and begin to observe the changes in your life; at first they may seem subtle and then profound.
*Pro Tip- I like to leave note cards next to my bed to serve as a nightly reminder and morning reminder.
How I found a morning routine to be helpful in managing my anxiety and depression.
There was a period in my life where waking up in the morning was a real struggle. The dawn of the day marked the remembrance of my troubles and worries. Before my eyes fluttered to open, my mind was flooded with a surge of negative thoughts, my heart became heavy as it sank into my chest and worry drenched every cell in my body. I wanted to pull the covers up over my head and drift back into the unconsciousness of my being- where my worries and troubles did not exist.
My aversion of mornings put me in a salty mood, which unavoidably followed me around all day. I needed something to snap me out of my morning funk- something stronger than coffee. Thus, the creation of My Magical Morning.
Below are four things that I started doing every morning which transformed my relationship with mornings from dreadful to divine.
1. “Today is Magical”
Say this phrase 5 times, with feeling, before you get out of bed.
I found that the first thing I was saying to myself in the morning, before my little eyes even fluttered open to the morning light, was “Oh cr*p, it’s morning again. Another day of this sh*t.” This was literally how I started each day and this phrase is what set the tone for my day. I was, unknowingly, sabotaging my day before it even began. So I set a little note with my alarm, a reminder, that said “Today is Magical” with some stars and hearts emojis (the unicorn had not yet debuted). From that day on, each morning, when my alarm would wake me up, I was kindly reminded that Today is Magical.
*Other options might be- Today is the best day of my life. I love my life. My life is fabulous and fruitful….. You get the idea.
Start with 5 minutes and work your way up as you see fit. There are many different forms of meditation and apps available to support your journey; sit in silence, follow your breath, visualize yourself being filled with love, or chant mantras, play around and find one that best serves you.
I like to tack this step onto my meditation since I’m already sitting with eyes closed, and typically feeling relaxed and receptive. I spend about 5 minutes visualizing, in as much detail and with as much feeling as possible, having all of my hearts desires; frequently creating a big ol’ smile across my face.
You’ve likely heard about affirmations and the claims made about their benefits. I was once a skeptic myself and I avoided them like vampires avoid daylight. But the relentless buggers kept following me around; hiding out in books, making surprise guest appearances in movies and blurting themselves out in conversations. Eventually, I surrendered to their persistence and now I am an avid believer in powerful magic of affirmations. Write them out as though every word you are writing is the truth, and in time, it will be your truth.
I took great delight in experimenting with various activities and fine-tuning the details to create the perfect morning routine for my needs. I encourage you to do the same- have fun with this, play around with different options and fine-tune until you find a Magical Morning Routine that fits your lifestyle and meets your needs.
I didn’t always dread mornings; there was another time in my life when I was having a magical love affair with them. I would wake up in the dark hours of the early morning to watch the sunrise over the ocean. I would sit quietly, in solitude, grateful for the stillness of the early morning; with sand between my toes as the gentle sea breeze would softly kiss my cheeks. Mornings and I, we had a real romance going on- it was the real deal kinda love. But when the seas of life got rough, and I was relentlessly tossed around as waves crashed over me, sometimes pulling me under, I found it difficult to catch my breath, hard to stay afloat. My Magical Morning Routine became my personal flotation device and through maintaining a daily routine I have become more buoyant and resilient when facing rough seas.
Sleep is an essential component to our physical and mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, in our fast paced culture, sleep seems to be put on the backburner: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”; the reality is, “you’ll be dead if you don’t sleep.” When we sleep our body undergoes a restoration process; brain chemicals are restored and the body receives much needed rest.
Have you ever notice that you sleep more when you’re sick? That’s because your body is mending itself. Your body is physically making you slow down so that it can nourish and repair itself.
Without an ample amount of quality sleep, we experience burnout and fatigue and we are more susceptible to illness and plain ol' grouchiness.
A good night's rest not only leaves you feeling refreshed, alert and ready to take on the day but can improve your mood, lower stress levels, help maintain a healthy weight and decrease anxiety.
I consider myself to be a sleep queen in that I take sleep very seriously as it directly affects the rest of my life. Restless sleep affects my mood and behavior and increases my anxiety. Frequent nights of restless sleep can keep me in the anxiety loop. If you experience anxiety, I encourage you to make getting a good night's rest a priority and watch how the rest of your world begins to, seemingly effortlessly, change.
5 Tips for Better Zzzz’s
Learning your body’s natural sleep cycles and honoring them with drastically improve your quality of sleep. It is important to note that not everyone needs the same amount of sleep during the night, some of us need more sleep than others to feel well rested and ready to take on the day ahead.
Experiment: Notice when you start to feel tired at night and begin your nighttime routine. Sometimes if we push ourselves past the time when we are feeling sleepy, we may experience an unwanted boost of energy later, making it harder to fall asleep. Note the time you wake up naturally, and relish in the bliss of waking up at your leisure. I recommend doing this experiment a few times to get an average idea of your personalized natural cycle.
* I recommend exploring your natural cycles on an evening when you’re at home and do not need an alarm to wake up the next morning (you don’t have to be anywhere at a particular time).
Personal example: I naturally begin to wind down between 8- 9pm and I put myself to bed between 9-10pm. If I push myself to stay up later this will often give me an energy boost making it more challenging to fall asleep and often resulting in restless sleep. I naturally arise anywhere between 5:30-7am. For you math wizzes out there, you probably already noticed that I require a longer period of sleep than most. I am a creature that operates best between 8-10 hours of restful sleep.
Essential oils truly are a gift from Mother Nature and they are a wonderful aide for sleep. I personally recommend lavender, vetiver and Serenity (a blend by doTerra). There are two ways to use essential oils for sleep: topically and aromatically.
When applying oils topically (to your skin) you will want to mix them with a carrier oil. I personally like sesame and almond oil. Since I know I’m going to use this blend regularly, I mix my oils into a 4 oz dropper bottle that sits next to my bed. The majority of the bottle is filled with my carrier oil. I then add 10-15 drops of lavender and 10-15 drops of Serenity. Vetiver is a heavier oil that I don’t use every night. On the nights that I use vetiver, I mix 1-2 drops in my hand with 2-3 droppers of the lavender/Serenity blend.
Now for the good stuff- I then massage my feet with the oil. Why the feet? The feet have much larger pores than the rest of the body and they don’t have sebaceous glands which acts as a barrier- making them the perfect place to apply oils- quick and effective absorption. Indulge in this experience, lovingly massage your feet and enjoy the relaxing sensations. *Be sure to place socks over your feet when you’re done so that the oil doesn’t get everywhere.
To use oils aromatically, you’ll need a diffuser. You can purchase reasonably priced ones on Amazon. If you plan to leave your diffuser on while you sleep, be sure to purchase one that has an automatic shut off, like this one.
Fill the diffuser with water to the water line and add 2-4 drops of lavender 2-4 drops of Serenity and 1-2 drops of vetiver. Place your diffuser in a location where the scents will wash over you throughout the night.
*When purchasing oils be sure to choose quality products. I personally use and recommend doTerra and Young Living, but they can be pricey. Do your research to find an oil that best meets your needs.
Ashwagandha is an herb used in Ayurveda that is helpful in preventing anxiety, relieving insomnia and reducing stress-induced depression, amongst many other benefits. I first began taking ashwagandha in the morning to increase energy and stamina however, I personally found that it made me groggy and sleepy, and therefore I switched to taking it at night as a part of my bedtime routine. I use the powder form and mix about half of a spoonful with hot water and fresh juiced ginger cubes. Ashwagandha has an earthy taste to it, which some may not care for. You can also mix it with warm milk, which may help with the earthy taste.
I only recently discovered binaural beats and to be frank, I can't get enough of them. I find them to be profoundly healing for the body and mind. You can find a plethora of binaural beat tracks available on YouTube- for Free! What makes binaural beats unique is that you must listen to them with headphones on and the reasoning for doing so is that one frequency is being sent into one headphone while a different frequency is being sent into the other, voila- binaural beat. For sleep I recommend finding a sleep specific track or a theta focused one. Simply plug in and play as you rest in the comfort of your bed.
A regular practice of Yoga Nidra will improve your quality of sleep. The systematic technique is designed in enhance full body relaxation and rejuvenation. Through a regular practice the body and mind, effortlessly, learn how to relax more easily, to let go of the day and drop into the alpha-theta space of deep relaxation.
Purchase Yoga Nidra MP3's on my website www.MelindaQuesenberry.com
* The practices and information provided in this article are for educational purposes only. They are not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure physical or emotional conditions. They are not intended as a replacement for medical advice.