Rise & Shine

What's your first thought when you wake up?  Are you a chronic snoozer who dreads getting out of bed?  Are you bombarded by thoughts of all the things you need to do in the day?  Are there no thoughts at all, just fuzziness as you shuffle to the kitchen to make coffee and feel human again?

With the busy-ness of our days, it’s easy to just get up and go -- business. as. usual.

Setting the tone for our day by implanting a thought, word or desired feeling can make all the difference for what our experience and baseline level of connection will be for the upcoming 24 hours.

If you don't know what your first thought is, set the intention to be aware of it for the next few days.  It's easy to forget.  Maybe write yourself a sticky note and keep it by your bedside or if you're using an alarm on your phone, write yourself a note that will pop up.  Don't judge it or feel bad if it's not working out perfectly.  It takes time to shift habits.

One of the busiest people I know recently shared on his vlog that the first thought of his day is to say the word love.  Love  unconditional love; romantic love; that feeling of fullness, peace, and tranquility that feels like it oozes out of you.  It sets the tone for his day and reminds him that this is the feeling he wants to put out to the world.

It's hard to argue with that, but if love isn't your thing or you want a specific vibe for the day (first day at Crossfit?  Job interview?), try out a few words:

"confident

happy

peaceful"

"joy"

"energized"

Observe how you feel when you say them out loud; see how you feel when you think them.  The aim here is to feel it.  Our words carry meaning, which in turn creates feeling.  That feeling isn't just something you experience as an emotion, we experience this on a biochemical and physical level as well.  Just as we know what it feels like to be angry or frustrated, stressed, worried and scared (tense, with shallow breathing; narrowed focus - you can only think about that problem; a racing heart and pounding of our pulse in our ears), the opposite emotions of peacefulness, happiness, ease, and grace have an impact.  They release feel good hormones & endorphins, they slow our heart rate, balance our blood pressure, they widen our focus to see more possibilities.  The area of science known as psychoneuroendocrinology studies this (long name, I know).

Making the shift

  • Rise & shine -- if you think youre going to fall back to sleep, prop yourself up in bed or move to a location that feels nice and is comfortable.  If youre bombarded by little people or pets the moment your eyes open, finding space in the bathroom might work.

Start with just a minute if thats all you can take.  Set a timer if you need one, take a few deep breaths, and with closed eyes, focus on your chosen word and how you want to feel -- then feel it.

  • Try starting a gratitude journal and jot down just three things you are grateful for in the morning and at bedtime.  This can take as little as 10 seconds and helps prime our brain to focus on the positive.
  • Spread the love send a quick text or email to tell people you love them.  Smile.  A good mood is just as contagious as a bad mood.
  • Feel some good vibrations in the morning, rather than turning on the news, which can be a huge downer, put on some fun or uplifting music.   Use headphones so you won't wake up the family or your roommate(s) or dont use them and get everyone involved.  Sing in the shower.  Do you think you'll feel silly?  That's a good thing being silly gets us close to laughing.  And I don't think we need to wait around for the meta-analysis of 100 double blind studies to show us that laughter really is the best medicine.  I laughed really hard the time I was rocking out to the crescendo in Alicia Keys' Empire State of Mind piano solo and found my roommate staring me like I'd lost it.

*   *   *

It's a common saying that "life is short" and I get what that is trying to tell us, but life is actually the longest thing we will experience.  Each day is another opportunity to start fresh.  We have a choice in how we feel and we have a choice in how we respond to events in our path.  Even a glimmer of positivity can make a difference for the rest of our day.

In health,

Dr. Tara

Does this resonate?