We are allowed to start fresh with each new day that dawns. This opportunity for reinvention affords us the space to channel our inner yearnings and show up as the person we want to be. So instead of waking and going through the motions of existence, wouldn't it be great if you could seize the day right from the get-go?
When you start a day positively, you honor your present and future selves. You welcome the gift of life and the wonder that life entails into your life. And don't worry, I'm not going to suggest 5 am wakeups and ice baths as the only options for positive starts to your day.
This article will explore the importance of getting a positive start to the day and 5 ways you can start your day positively.
Why positivity is important
We all know the dangers of the downward spiral. It can be easy to get sucked down with the world's weight on our shoulders. But did you know there is also an opposite effect?
The upward spiral effect is lesser known, but it exists! This upward spiral effect occurs when unconscious positive affect derived from lifestyle processes takes hold and helps our adherence to positive health behaviors. The result of this is an increase in positive behavior.
Let's look at positivity in more depth. What words do you associate with positivity?
When I think of positivity, I think of being constructive, optimistic, and confident. A positive person conjures up someone with high self-efficacy, enthusiasm, accountability, and happiness.
What do you think the morning of a positive person looks like? I imagine the morning of a positive person looks intentional, planned, and productive.
Now consider the morning of a negative person. I envision this to be chaotic. They possibly slept in, ran out of breakfast cereal, and missed their train to work.
Can a positive start to the day change a negative person into a more positive person?
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The benefits of starting your day positively
The outcome of our day often rests on the way our morning starts.
In my dissertation at university, I looked at the effect of exercise on cognition. My results coincided with the now widespread science that morning exercise can improve:
- Decision making.
Another way of understanding this is that morning exercise puts your brain a few hours ahead of those who don't exercise. So you may start your working day bright-eyed and bushy-tailed while your colleagues are still half asleep.
There are many ways to start your day positively; this responsibility doesn't rest solely in the exercise domain.
There is a critical difference between negative and positive starts to the day. This difference rests in action. We can all have the intention to start our day in a particular way, but if this intention doesn't transfer to action, we won't reach the desired positivity.
If you intend to wake up, enjoy a coffee in peace, and then walk your dog, this combines fuel for your mind and gentle exercise. Those who achieve this intention start their day with success, and this sense of winning at life spills into the rest of the day.
Those whose intentions fall short and don't result in action start their day on the back foot. They may feel embarrassed and already behind before their working day even begins.
5 ways to start a day positively
We've touched on some morning habits that positively affect the start of your day. Let's get more specific and look at 5 ways to start your day positively.
1. Build a morning routine
Be my guest if you want to get up at 5 am and jump in an ice bath. I can see the merits, but I won't adopt this trend only because I'm not too fond of the cold and love my sleep. Luckily there are other options for positive morning routines available.
Consider how much time you need in the mornings and if there is anyone else you need to cater for. Do you need to get the children ready? Or do you have pets that need to be fed and exercised?
The great thing about a vigorous morning routine is that it becomes a habit. We know habits take effort and energy to establish, but once they are ingrained, they become automatic.
Try getting up 30 minutes earlier to incorporate a positive action into your morning routine.
Here are some positive actions you could integrate into your morning routine:
- Morning run.
- Yoga session.
- Read positive affirmations (here's why they do work).
- Meditation and breathing routine.
- Set your daily intentions in a journal.
- Read something inspiring and empowering.
You can alleviate your morning pressure by being as organized as possible the night before. This organization means preparing clothes and food for the next day.
2. Fuel yourself properly
Make sure to eat breakfast.
Seriously, if you want your mind and body to be ready to tackle whatever challenges lie ahead, you need to nourish them.
A decent breakfast with good macros is vital to set you up for the day. Not having time to sit down and have breakfast is no excuse. If time is an issue, you can have breakfast on the move.
I'm not a breakfast fan. But I know my mind and body need the nutrients to allow me to be my best self. So, I usually grab a protein bar before my morning exercise routine and then have a protein shake afterward.
Ensuring we are adequately fuelled means our energy and attention span can last until lunchtime, and we can give our best of ourselves to our day.
3. Eat the frog first
I'm vegan and still eat the frog first thing in the morning!
This slightly bizarre expression originates from Mark Twain, who said, "if it's your job to eat the frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it is your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first."
What Mark Twain is suggesting is to get the biggest tasks done first thing. We often spend most of our time procrastinating and putting off more arduous tasks.
If I don't train first thing in the morning, my motivation wains, and I find myself thinking about it, dreading it, and being distracted by it.
So get up and eat your frog; leapfrog (excuse the pun) over the biggest hurdle of the day early on. Eating the frog first makes you feel accomplished, energized, and ready for anything.
4. Exercise early in the morning
I can hear audible sighs across the screen at this suggestion.
Fitting exercise into your morning is one of the most positive ways to start your day. In a previous job, I was at my desk from 7.30 am. The days when I galvanized action out of my intention and rose at 5 am for my run were when I felt capable of tackling anything.
There's an incredible sense of achievement for having already worked out before the start of your day.
So what counts as morning exercise? The good news is, I'm not asking you to go for a 10-mile run every morning. You can personalize it to suit your time scales and fitness levels.
- 20-minute yoga session.
- 30 minutes of HIIT.
- Run, swim, or cycle.
- 30 minutes of strength work.
- Gym session.
If possible, you can try to kill two birds with one stone. Turn your commute into a sustainable exercise by cycling or walking to work. Is this an option for you? Ultimately this option helps maximize your available time.
5. Keep devices off
I am a total hypocrite here. But until you have accomplished your morning routine needs, don't even think about tuning in to the outside world. Yes, this means e-mails or social media only once you are ready to tackle the day.
The author and stoicism expert Ryan Holiday says he turns his phone on once he has exercised, spent several hours writing, and seen to the needs of his children. If this process is good enough for Ryan Holiday, it's good enough for us.
By staying off devices, we are giving our brain a chance to wake up, arrange its thoughts, and set its intentions without being influenced by the outside world.
Try it for yourself and see how you get on.
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Starting a day positively sets the scene for the rest of the day. A week of positive starts soon becomes a month, which bleeds into a year. Before we know it, we have orchestrated positive change and are happier and more successful.
How do you start your day positively? What's your favorite tip to share with others? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!