In a world where everything is traveling at a rapid pace, anything that promises to enhance our productivity is welcomed with open arms. But while our yield increases, our physical and mental health is dwindling (and we're pretty sure the whole work/life balance idea is a myth). So how do we get back to center and put ourselves first, ahead of our to-do list? We're here to let you in on a little secret. It's something we do ourselves every day and it only takes 10 minutes. Ready for it? Wake up 10 minutes earlier. That's it.
This is your time. A chance to reflect, quiet the mind, and slowly ease your way into the day. It might seem like a struggle at first, we get it, any change is always a challenge, but taking this time for yourself will really help set a calmer tone for the day and help you feel in control of your life. Now that we know what to avoid doing in the morning, it's time to give your morning routine a life-changing overhaul. Ready? Let's go.
If you're slow to wake up in the morning, take this time to smell the aroma of a fresh cup of joe or iced coffee and sit down to drink it. Don't make it and drink it while you're rushing to get the kids breakfast or while you're checking work emails. Really inhale the coffee as you sip it slowly, mindfully, and enjoy every last drop. If you don't drink coffee, have an herbal tea instead. You and your taste buds deserve it.
Remember that book collecting dust on your bedside table? It's officially time to open the cover. Put your alarm on 10 minutes earlier and get started already. If you don't have one handy, then we suggest buying one that inspires inner peace and happiness to rewire your brain and get it started on the right track. If reading isn't your thing, then many of the MyDomaine editors listen to podcasts that inspire, educate, and motivate; they basically help you win at life.
When you only focus on that daily task list (which seems never-ending) we lose sight of the things in our lives that matter and our happiness can turn down towards the frown side of town. Taking a few minutes each morning to practice mindfulness will help. According to Berkeley Science Review, it "can improve our quality of life and make us feel happier." So what exactly does it entail? Sarah Roberts, Ph.D., from the University of Quebec in Montreal writes: "Mindfulness means being present no matter what we're doing, and being aware and curious about what's going on inside and around us—without judgment."
Why does it help? Roberts says by applying this simple practice every day we can limit some of the most common mental health issues and stop "sleep-walking through our days without really connecting with anyone or anything." Just 10-minutes of mindfulness meditation is all it takes to see a change in your mood and quality of life.
If you really want to kick-start your day, wake up and make your bed—properly. Science says bed makers are happier and more successful than those who don't. Our own social media manager, Kate Winick, swears by it and even made a strong argument for making the bed every day. "If you intend to give your job, your body, and your diet a high level of care and attention that day, don't start off by getting sloppy with the first task you're faced with each morning," she wrote. "It's not a hugely impressive achievement in and of itself, but it sure is easier to remember to put on real shoes and grab a smoothie instead of a chocolate-chip muffin when I'm officially in Doing Things Right mode first thing in the morning." Give it a try, you might surprise yourself.
Are your excuses for not working out sounding like a broken record? We totally feel you. Our tired levels are at an all-time high too, but your body and emotional health really feel it when you don't. Even if you can't face a sweat-induced workout when you first wake up, take 10 minutes to stretch it out. Yoga is a phenomenal start to the day. Science has proven it staves off anxiety and stress, controls diabetes, sharpens the brain, decreases depression, lowers your cancer risk, reduces PMS, improves your sex life, and even extends your lifespan. We could go on, but we think you get the point. Wake up earlier and try out some of these ancient stretches; they could make a huge difference.
The still of the morning is one of the best times to focus and map out the day. Your mind is fresh and clear after the reboot of a good night's sleep. Ditch the electronics for this one and go back to good old pen and paper. According to Harvard Business Review, you only need five minutes. "Sit down with a blank piece of paper and decide what will make this day highly successful," wrote Peter Bregman. "What can you realistically accomplish that will further your goals and allow you to leave at the end of the day feeling like you've been productive and successful? Write those things down."
Then (here comes the most important part) schedule them into time slots on your calendar. "If your entire list does not fit into your calendar, reprioritize your list. There is tremendous power in deciding when and where you are going to do something." Then you can start the day knowing exactly what's ahead of you and be in control from the get-go.
If you're anything like us, finding time for lunch can be a stretch (meetings often take precedence), which means our health usually gets benched. One way to pack in your day's worth of vitals is to make time in the morning for a green smoothie. It's nutrient dense and delicious. It's also a great morning ritual to honor your body and give back. If you need some ideas these green smoothie recipes have five ingredients or fewer, and our editor swears by this delicious green energy drink.
This is one of our favorite ways to start the day—successful women live by them too. Whether you prefer to vocalize them out loud or repeat them internally, mantras are a great way to turn your negative self-talk into positive ones. Research has shown that what we tell ourselves deeply affects how we think, so self-destructive thoughts can really take their toll on our self-worth. Instead, wake up a little earlier and use the first 10 minutes of the day to create your own mantra. You'll switch your internal morale meter into motivation mode—Olympians swear by these. If you need some inspiration, check out Louise Hay's daily affirmations and find the one that resonates with you.
How do you spend the first 10 minutes of your day? Do you find waking a little earlier helps?
This post was originally published on September 16, 2016, and has since been updated.