Welcome to a brand-new year! For many, this is a time for making resolutions and setting goals that we want to achieve with the commencement of the new year. This is the time to look back at the previous year, take note of the highs and lows, and create your new reality for the next 365 days.

How you start your morning is very important for setting your intentions. When your mind is in a state of peace, you’re better able to focus on getting your goals accomplished by setting your intention on what’s most important. For me, my morning routine readies my mind and body for the events of the day. Below are a few ways that I start every morning relaxed and with a clear mind which allows me to prepare for the day ahead.

Gentle stretches. Incorporating stretching into your morning routine, improves blood circulation to your muscles and increases your flexibility. Improving your range of motion through greater flexibility is a great way to open up your body, which enhances the flow of energy. Contrary to the common adage that stiffness if a part of aging, it isn’t.  In fact, having a series of morning stretches helps to maintain your flexibility well into golden years, providing for a better quality of life.

Morning stretching also helps your mind and body to wake up much faster. When you’re feeling good in your body, you’ll probably notice that your mood improves as well. With this positivity, you’ll be better equipped to focus on your daily goals.

Additionally, stretching is a great stress reliever. When you know that there is an event that you’re not looking forward to, tension builds in your body. This tension can create stiffness and pain. Stretching will loosen up the stress-related tension and allow the energy to flow throughout your body. For examples of morning stretches, try these from the PopSugar Fitness article, 5 Have-an-Awesome-Morning Stretches.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson

Be outside for the sunrise. If you have the opportunity in the morning, step outside, go barefoot on the grass or sand on the beach, when the sun is rising. Taking this moment to observe the beginning of the day helps to regulate your circadian rhythm, de-stresses you, and is also a great mood elevator. In a recent article, Dr. Jack Kruse, neurosurgeon and CEO of Optimized Life, explains how sunlight is an important part of how the body creates dopamine, melatonin, and b-endorphins. Morning light, in particular, contains ultraviolet (UV-A) and infrared (IR-A). What’s fascinating is that being exposed to this part of the electromagnetic spectrum results in an increase in histadine production in the skin. Dr. Kruse explains that “histadine is an aromatic amino acid that absorbs massive amounts of UV-A light.” So our skin actually has receptors that were previously only thought to exist in the eye.  With this and the increased levels of the “feel good” hormones, it’s all the more reason to not ever miss another sunrise.

Dr. Molly Maloof explains in the Well + Good article How to Maximize your Summer Days With a Sunrise Ritual that the blue light of the early morning sun helps the body to wake up, giving the body a natural energy boost. Dr. Maloof explains that “Your digestive organs are regulated by the hypothalamus through light and the timing of food intake. In fact, science tells us that early-a.m. light exposure is correlated with lower [body mass index] BMI.” This is good news if you’re wanting to lose weight.

When the sun is rising, find a comfortable spot outside, perhaps on the grass. I like to actually stretch at the same time where I try to expose as much of my skin as possible to the sunlight, while facing in the direction of the sun.  Be sure to breathe deeply and observe the sights, sounds, and smells that surround you. You can increase the benefits of enjoying the sunrise by taking time to meditate, expressing gratitude for waking up and having the opportunity to see another day.

Meditation/Prayer. Meditation helps the brain to focus and to become more creative. In meditation, you open your mind to creative thoughts and provide the space for messages to be received. It can be guided, where someone else leads you through the meditation, or unguided. No matter which route you choose, the benefits are the same – improved creativity, brain function, and immunity.

In your morning prayer, you can talk to God with very little interruption. Unlike meditation, where you are allowing your mind to rest, prayer is active communication. Prayer time is your opportunity to express gratitude for all the blessings you have received, to ask for healing for those in need of it, and to ask for guidance for the day ahead.

Having an attitude of gratitude is beneficial to both your physical and mental health. By simply acknowledging the things in your life for which you are grateful, you can reduce blood pressure, lower heart rate, and improve your immune system as it can result in an increase in white blood cells. For your emotional health, gratitude lowers the risk of depression, improves mental resilience, and boosts your self-esteem.

Affirmations. Every day, we speak things into our lives, mostly at a subconscious level. By practicing affirmations, you are re-training your brain to think in a positive manner. As you focus on good things, your emotional state becomes elevated, leading to improved moods. With a positive attitude, any feelings of stress or overwhelm are diminished, enabling you to not only feel better, but to become more effective in all that you do.

For some, speaking positive statements over their lives may seem quite foreign because, in being surrounded by pessimistic messaging via mass media outlets, it’s much easier to listen to and believe negative statements over more positive ones. However, by practicing daily affirmations, your optimism will increase, and you will make less room for ideas and beliefs that do not espouse gratitude and enthusiasm.

To create your affirmations, start by bringing to mind any negative thoughts or beliefs that you may have. To identify these, reflect on some of the fears you may have as these typically are the source for many of the negative thoughts that you may carry unaware.  Once you have them, rephrase your statements so that they are now positive ones. Be sure to use the words “I” or “my” when beginning your declarations. Because you want your mind to perceive your affirmations as something that is already in place and happening now, always create your statements in the present tense. Here are some examples to help you get started. Create affirmations that specifically pertain to you and your situation.

“I am enough”

“I am loved and accepted.”

“I am worthy of the life I choose to live.”

Journaling. The morning is often the most creative time to jot down your thoughts as your dreams have allowed your imagination to flow freely without restriction for the past several hours you were asleep. In your journaling time, let your thoughts run as free as your imagination flows, writing everything down without consideration for grammar or formatting.

Expressing your thoughts in writing provides you with an emotional outlet. This can be very cathartic if you’re dealing with feelings of stress and overwhelm. According to Dr. James Pennebaker, author of Writing to Heal, “When we translate an experience into language we essentially make the experience graspable.”  As human beings, we have a strong need to understand and find meaning in the events of our lives.

Journaling is also a great way to work towards your goals. By writing down what you want out of life, you’re stating your intentions. As you allow your thoughts to flow through your pen, or the keyboard, you’ll begin to map out the pathway to manifest your dreams. When your thoughts are visible, your brain will begin to consciously and subconsciously work towards making your thoughts reality. In my own daily journaling, I prefer to jot down my thoughts as well as three goals for me to accomplish that will bring me closer to making my dream a reality. I have found that including the emotional component of goal-setting to be invaluable in determining which goals to actually focus on. This applies to both personal or professional goals.

Access a free copy of my Passion Journal here to keep track of your thoughts and daily goals.

With your goals written down, your journal can serve much like an accountability partner. Every day that you review your goals, you’ll be reminded to stay focused on what’s most important. If you’re unable to complete them, for any reason, you’ll be able to jot down the reason why you were unable to do so, which may help to elicit parts of your life of which you may have been unaware. If you’re unaware, you won’t know that there are issues that may need resolution.  Ultimately, you’ll have a record of the steps you have taken, what has worked in your favor, and the lessons you’ve learned, giving you clarity so that you can achieve your dreams.

Starting your morning off in a peaceful and joyous mood will help you to be more productive. You’ve heard the statement, “The early bird catches the worm.” By incorporating these ideas into your morning routine, setting your goals for the day will be much easier and you’ll be more likely to accomplish them, placing you on the path to a very happy and healthy new year.

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