3 Morning Rituals to Reduce Stress and Keep You Healthy - Malti Bhojwani

3 Morning Rituals to Reduce Stress and Keep You Healthy - Malti Bhojwani

Do you know a very small change in your lifestyle can actually make a great difference in your life? Well, it sure is the truth and everything we do on a daily basis affects our life in some way or the other. So why not accept these small changes in our lives, which ensure that we will be stress-free and healthy all our lives? After all, we will never be as young as we are today anymore.

 

Stop sleeping with the tech-enemy.
 
Ninety nine per cent of you sleep next to your phone and check it the first thing in the morning, believing that you HAVE to do this, in case there is some incredible news that will change your life and give you reason to be excited or formidably grave issues that will ruin your life. Since most wake up to a shrill alarm, you are subconsciously already "stressed" and the instinct is to look for the cause of that feeling. To combat this modern problem, scan your phone quickly for news from just your immediate family and then keep your phone away from you for the next 30 minutes.
 
The newspaper, TV, excessive conversations, messages, emails and social media will bombard your brain with "stressors" that will trigger your Fight, Flight or Freeze impulse. Social media is also known to trigger envy, jealousy, "fear of missing out" and "fear of not being good enough" as we tend to compare ourselves with our contacts. Postponing the stimulus by nourishing your body and soul for a few minutes after rising will equip you with the headspace to deal with the barrage of information in a more responsive, less reactive way.
 
 
Take a 30-minute bliss-dip
 
Do a body scan; check for tension and stress. For example, is your forehead creased, your jaw clenched, or toes curled? Deliberately do the opposite in your physiology, breathe deep, unclench, open up your body and your chest by spreading your arms out and force a smile on your face. The magic is in the actual doing. Cognitive understanding is not enough, you have to really experience this in your body. You may be reading this thinking it could not make a difference, but I promise you that if you consciously practise this every single morning from now for the next month, you will experience the deep peace and freedom that comes from living with less stress and more joy. With your phone far away, have half a glass of water with a few squeezes of lemon and some sodium bicarbonate (check with your doctor, in case of blood pressure), then sit down with your favourite morning beverage or a light breakfast and listen. Listen to the birds if you can hear them, listen to your thoughts, jot down a to-do list if you have concerns niggling at you and forcing you to look at your phone or computer. Do what we call a brain dump, and then write 10 things you are grateful for and the one powerful attribute you want to commit to bringing into the day. It could be: fun, laughter, a peace-offering, magic, energy, leadership, slowing down, acceptance, mischief, or anything. Doing this helps you be at source rather than be reactive to what the day brings.
 
Think about how your thoughts are different when you are on holiday. Consider when was the last time you woke up without stress, when you actually woke up happy? These are the kind of thoughts you want to train yourself to have every single morning. Smiling, while I languor on my bed, physically feeling the soft sheets and taking in the morning scents, feeling pure gratitude, is the one conscious ritual that has made the biggest difference in my own life. Sit in mindless meditation for a few minutes and then slowly ease into the day. You can pick up the newspaper and your phone now.
 
 
Good for the Baseline
 
Prepare as much as you can the night before. Make sure you set a progressive peaceful alarm, and plan what you are going to wear the night before. I also try to organise the first half of the next day before going to sleep, adding only 1 or 2 big tasks. This practice is especially useful on Sundays, when anxiety (residue from school days) is at its highest. Research states that exercising at the start of the day increases your baseline metabolic rate for the next 15 hours. This means that you will be burning calories a little faster all day if you do some cardio in the mornings. I have experienced  this myself and found it to be true, having experimented both morning and evening, keeping other variables constant.
 
On the same token, easing into the day with meditation, yoga or quiet contemplation will reduce your anxiety levels and increase your coping mechanisms. Let's be honest and face reality, we can't avoid stressful situations and disappointments altogether, all we can do is to learn how to cope better. As Deborah Moggach wrote in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - "The only real failure is the failure to try, and the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment."
 
In my new book, The Mind Spa - Ignite Your Inner LifeCoach, I share the iHour, which is a one-hour commitment every morning to nourishing yourself - body, mind and soul. If you feel you don't have the time, go to bed an hour earlier so that you can wake up early. The benefits of starting your day, fully nourished instead of depleted, will reflect in the results you have in all the areas of your life. 
 
Malti Bhojwani is a professional life coach, author and facilitator of transformation and self discovery. Having been on her own in the personal development industry for over 15 years, she brings her years of experience to scores of individuals, teams in corporations and entrepreneurs all over the world. She is an affiliate with Aberkyn - a Change Leadership Partner, co-founded by McKinsey & Company who have recently set up their SEA office. You can visit her site at www.maltibhojwani.com 
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