Next five minutes: Mindfulness techniques and deep breathing
“I recommend that all my patients engage in some sort of meditation or prayer first thing in the morning,” says Dr. Nicole Bernard Washington, a board certified psychiatrist and the chief medical officer at Elocin Psychiatric Services. “The benefit is to clear your thoughts and allow you to start the day with a clear mind.”
“Gratitude affirmations are a great way to start the day as well,” Washington says. “By starting the day making gratitude statements you allow yourself to focus on the positive things in your life. In a world that tends to highlight the negative, starting your day off on a positive note can have positive effects on your mood.”
You can also incorporate breathing exercises to help achieve clarity.
“While laying in bed, breath in through your nose, hold it for five seconds and then release the air through your mouth,” instructs Dr. Erlanger ‘Earl’ Turner, a licensed clinical psychologist and professor. “Repeat these steps several times. It should help to relax the mind and body.”
Spend five minutes journaling, which can also be done in bed
The urge to pick up your phone or laptop is probably powerful now, but hold off for just another five minutes and instead take to pen and paper (ideally you should keep a journal on your nightstand).
Christie Tcharkhoutian, M.A., MFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist finds “writing upon waking” to be beneficial.
Writing continues that creative flow from your dream life into your day as opposed to automatically waking up and looking at your phone, which can put a creative block and interfere with your ability to stay present.
“Some brain research suggests that this practice is helpful for brain integration because it helps to integrate parts of the brain that involve linguistic and creative capabilities, setting a tone of creativity and balance for the rest of the day,” she says. “Writing something positive — such as three things you are grateful for or a positive intention for the day — can help to improve mood throughout the day. Our dream life and subconscious work overtime in our sleep and channeling that stream of consciousness as soon as you wake up into writing helps to feel more connected and mindful throughout your day. Writing continues that creative flow from your dream life into your day as opposed to automatically waking up and looking at your phone, reading and consuming information which can put a creative block and interfere with your ability to stay present throughout the day.”
If journaling isn’t your thing, listen to positive messages you recorded
Journaling may be a practice you’re not into, or prefer to do at night. If either is the case, consider making a recording of yourself reading daily affirmations aloud and listen to them instead.
“To implement daily affirmations into your morning and set an intention by reading them aloud to yourself, or listening to a recording of yourself reading them every morning,” says Tcharkhoutian. “If positive statements about your identity are replaying like a broken record, they will combat the negative beliefs that can creep in and sabotage your day.”
Spend 5 minutes writing down the essential tasks for the day
Once you do the aforementioned practices, you can get down to the business of the day — but before your mind starts buzzing with to-dos, use these five minutes to itemize, prioritize and be super specific with what you want to achieve today in list form.
“Don’t just [write] ‘check emails.’ Write down, ‘check 20 emails in 30 minutes from x to x time,” says Stephanie Lincoln, a licensed mental health counselor, certified fitness trainer and the Founder/CEO of Fire Team Whiskey. “We all have hundreds of items on our to-do lists, and this helps us prioritize just five essentials for that day to not feel so overwhelmed.”