The morning is a powerful time of day.
It is during the first moments of waking that your mind is shifting from the subconscious stages of sleep into the more conscious state of reality. During this transition, your mind and heart are open, alive, and just waiting to soak up the energy of a new day.
The morning is also a time when your intuition is more readily accessible and your creativity, problem-solving skills, and motivation are at their highest. This is why it is commonly believed that how you spend the first 30 minutes after waking will determine the energy with which you move through the rest of the day.
So what if you could shift a couple things around in your schedule to reclaim some of this sacred space in order to set your mind into a positive state the minute you woke up? What if there were little rituals you could practice that would change your whole outlook of the day so that you could think more clearly and be more productive? Well, a simple morning routine may be just what you need to set the stage to make your whole day more successful.
When you start the day with a conscious and powerful ritual, it can help you to:
- Feel more positive
- Manage your energy
- Tune into your intuition
- Be more productive
- Feel more aligned with your purpose
- Feel motivated and inspired to get things done
- Be more patient and compassionate to yourself and others
There are no steadfast rules when it comes to creating the perfect morning ritual. However, it is a form of self-care — so make sure to choose the practices that fit your personality and your life, that make you feel good and uplifted, and that you will look forward to doing on a regular basis. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Cultivating gratitude and appreciation is a perfect way to start your day, as it is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those things, small or big, that grace your everyday life.
To achieve this, try reflecting for a moment on the things in your life for which you are most grateful, whatever they may be: family, friends, your comfy bed, a roof above your head, the ability to stand, to breathe, or to move your arms above your head. Or perhaps you feel gratitude for the day ahead and all of the amazing opportunities it holds for you. Whatever it is, be clear and specific. Let that sense of gratitude begin moving into your physical experience, coming into the body, and spreading out through your limbs. Feel the shift in your energy and in your body.
Meditation Or Mindful Breathing
Meditation is something everyone can do to improve their mental and emotional health. With science on our side, we have become more aware than ever of the many benefits of meditation — or mindfulness. Some of these benefits include:
- Reduces stress
- Controls anxiety
- Promotes emotional health
- Enhances self-awareness
- Lengthens attention span
- Improves sleep
- Helps control pain
- Can reduce blood pressure
- Can help generate kindness
Practicing meditation, or any form of conscious breathing, will help you relax and restore your energy before you're off to the races. I suggest about ten minutes. But even just a few minutes will help you improve your mental and emotional state.
If you're new to meditation, simply start with three deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Sit tall and gentle either on the floor, a cushion, or a chair. On the inhale, visualize fresh, new oxygen filling you up. On the exhale, visualize the releasing and letting go of all things that no longer serve you. Or simply breathe and repeat the mantra, "I am healthy, well, and vibrant."
Meditation courses and apps are widely available and there is a great variety of styles from which to choose, each with different strengths and benefits. Trying out a style of meditation suited to your goals is a great way to improve your quality of life, even if you only have a few minutes to do it each day.
But most of all, be gentle with yourself and try not to judge your experience. Like everything else, mediation is a "practice."
Exercise is a great way to get your energy moving and flowing for the day ahead. An early morning workout offers enormous benefits to both your health and your daily schedule. In fact, engaging in morning workouts is often touted as your all-natural cup of coffee — waking your body and preparing your mind.
Movement, in general, is a wonderful source of both physical and mental energy, something many of us need when we start our day. But beyond that, morning exercise has been shown to improve focus and mental abilities all day long. Not only will you feel awake and have more energy after your workout, but your mind will be ready to take on whatever tasks you have in front of you.
Of course, there are many mental health benefits of exercise, and working out first thing helps you experience those benefits right away! Exercise leads to the secretion of neurotransmitters that promote mental clarity and improve attention spans.
Breaking an early morning sweat will also reward you with a rush of endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine — feel-good chemicals that will boost your mood and help eliminate stress. Plus, you're guaranteed to feel happier knowing that you started your day doing something amazing for yourself and your health.
A morning exercise routine will even help you get better sleep. Evening exercise can actually have the opposite effect: it can boost the body's temperature and stimulate the body, which can make falling asleep more difficult. Working out in the morning not only improves the length of sleep you will enjoy but also the quality of your sleep by promoting deeper sleep cycles.
If getting up for a morning jog, a HITT routine, or weights is not your style, try yoga, Pilates mat, or even some light stretches. All of these things can be found on my website — there is literally something for everyone! Plus you'll feel a sense of accomplishment, as well as rejuvenation and recharge.
Breakfast is recognized as the most important meal of the day, because it energizes your body, helps improve your concentration and productivity, and boosts your metabolism, keeping your blood sugar levels stable throughout your entire day. Eating breakfast is also associated with a lower incidence of heart disease and diabetes.
Research shows that breakfast-eaters have increased energy levels, higher consumption of important vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients, and are more likely to be within their ideal weight range compared to breakfast-skippers. Studies also show that eating breakfast reduces the risk of cravings and overeating later in the day.
But probably the most appealing benefit is that it jump-starts your metabolism, helping you burn more calories throughout the day.
I suggest eating within two hours of waking to keep your blood sugar levels steady and to provide you with essential nutrients to kick-start your body, mind, and spirit.
So what are the best breakfasts to reap all of these benefits? A healthy breakfast should be balanced and provide a mix of protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and healthy fats to keep you satiated and fueled up for your day. Here are some of my favorites.
Studies have also shown that eating breakfast can improve memory and concentration levels and lower stress levels, improving our mood and making us happier! So the next time you start to rush out the door in the morning without something to eat, consider that without breakfast you are essentially running on empty, like trying to start a car with no gas. On the other hand, a healthy morning meal can give you energy, satisfy your appetite, and set the stage for healthy eating habits all day long.
A morning ritual is an investment in yourself and a commitment to improvement. If you don't take some time in the morning, you may find you've put your personal well-being on the backburner for the whole day. But starting the morning with self-care, love, and acceptance can help shift our mental dialogue and allow space for us to truly flourish in our daily life.
By using the morning to be fully present, compassionate, and alive in your body, mind, and spirit, you can consciously form positive habits that will significantly transform and empower your life.
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When I first heard #OKBoomer, I cringed and thought — here we go again.
Yet another round of generation bashing, this time Millennials against Baby Boomers. This new social media conflict will not help workplace dynamics.
Throughout my career, I've heard countless rants about long-established workplace norms that younger generations perceive as overly repressive rules that subvert identity, familial obligations, civility, and respect for the environment.
I get it. I remember how I felt early in my career being told that I couldn't wear pants, had to wear pantyhose (even in 90-degree weather) and that I wasn't allowed to speak to executives. Seriously?
Gen X here to the rescue.
Sandwiched between the much larger Baby Boomer and Millennial generations, Gen Xers are often overlooked. Please allow me to build a bridge to the opportunity ahead.
For me, the generation challenge is a communications opportunity. And the stakes are high, because we spend about 70% of our day communicating. Within that timeframe, we spend about 45% listening, 30% speaking, 16% reading, and 9% writing.
By 2030, most Baby Boomers will have retired, and approximately 75% of the workforce will be comprised of Millennials. That gives us about a decade to continue working together to create a work environment that is better for women, people of color, and the younger generations.
As a multigenerational workplace scholar, I'm often asked, what is a generation, and why do they matter?
Karl Mannheim, the founder of sociology, concluded that key historical events significantly impact people during their youth. Essentially, when you were born and what was happening where you lived during your formative childhood years, help define what is important to you and help set your value system.
Think of it this way, if the games you played growing up allowed you to advance to the next level regardless of if it took one attempt or fifty, you might have a different perspective on what mastering a task looks like than someone who didn't.
If technology has almost always allowed you to be more efficient, you may seek to perform a job as quickly as possible, so that you are being productive, not because you are looking for a short cut.
If the answer to any question was always a Google search away, you might get frustrated when your questions go unanswered and are told to figure it out.
These examples begin to explain why Baby Boomers and Millennials value different things. However, there are always going to be outliers. I study generational-related values, because they frame how we show up and what we expect when we come to work.
In my recent study of 1,400 Baby Boomer, Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z women, I examined strategies for communicating. I was particularly interested in interpersonal communications — the process by which people exchange information, feelings, and meaning through verbal and non-verbal messages. It turns about that the most essential characteristics by generation were active listening (paying attention to others), collaboration (teamwork), and empathy (showing understanding for others).
Baby Boomers believe they are best at "paying attention to others."
Given our hectic schedules at work, you may be tempted to multitask while speaking or try to get by gleaning the gist of a conversation in a conference call while working on a report at the same time. But this isn't deeply effective. Active listening is crucial because being highly engaged in a conversation helps everyone involved have clarity and alignment on exchange. It also helps build rapport and trust between participants.
Some practical ways to demonstrate active listening include:
- Asking specific questions or paraphrasing what you've heard
- Using non-verbal cues such as making eye contact and not looking at your device
- Maintain body language that shows you are interested and the speaker has your full attention
Gen X believes they are best at "working with others."
Lots of us have heard the expression, "There's no 'I' in a team." Teams that collaborate well have a better chance for sustained and repeatable success.
Effective ways to demonstrate collaboration are:
- Establishing clear goals and expectations for the team
- Being accountable for the team and yourself
- Providing and being open to feedback
Both Millennials and Gen Z believe they are most effective at "showing understanding for others."
The workplace is more diverse than ever before. Some organizations may have a Baby Boomer, a Gen Xer, Millennial, and a Gen Zer, all working alongside each other. By showing empathy, we can demonstrate that we appreciate and respect each other's perspectives and are open to understanding how they feel about a situation, idea, or concept.
Effective ways to demonstrate empathy are:
- Listening without judging or forming an opinion
- Being slow to criticize
- Acknowledging the other person's feelings as valid for them
So, instead of dismissing a generation with a hashtag, let try to open a dialogue. For example, next time you are working a Baby Boomers demonstrate that you are actively listening to what they are saying. Try sending a summary email about your deliverables on an assignment Gen Xers to highlight your collaborative skills. And take time to let Millennials and Gen Z know that you appreciate and understand their point of view.