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Take These 10 Simple Steps To Make You A Morning Person

Take These 10 Simple Steps To Make You A Morning Person

Wouldn’t it be an amazing feeling if you could stroll into work comfortably in the morning after a three-mile jog, twenty-minute workout, fifteen-minute ashtanga yoga session, or whatever your ideal morning routine would be?

In an interview with Harvard Business Review, Christoph Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany, explains that, “When it comes to business success, morning people hold the important cards. They tend to get better grades in school, which gets them into better colleges, which then leads to better job opportunities.”

But we all knew this, or at least suspected it, right? There’s even a saying about it: “The early birds catches the worm.”

Early in the morning is when your mind and body are most rested. Your motivation is at its highest then, and there are less things to distract you from writing or thinking deeply and creatively about projects. You are most productive at first light, which explains why so many successful people wake up before the sun rises, including Richard Branson (Virgin Group founder), Tim Cook (Apple CEO), and Indra Nooyi (CEO of PepsiCo).

If you love the idea of creating a success-boosting morning routine that gives you a headstart on others, and also affords you time for exercise and family, but struggle to get up when the alarm clock sounds, don’t worry. There are simple steps you can take to make climbing out from under the covers and starting your morning earlier much easier, and maybe even fun. Here’re ten of them:

1. Define your motive beforehand.

As with any change, it’s important to have a solid reason for waking up early. Define a meaningful reason for why you want to get up early and write it down if necessary. For example, you might want to wake up early to fit in a morning cardio workout, squeeze in a morning run, or have some extra time to cook a healthy breakfast for your family. Whatever the reason, being clear on it from the start will motivate you and set you up for success.

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2. Get enough sleep — 7 to 9 hours.

Waking up early and well-rested starts with getting enough sleep. Unfortunately, due to our busy lifestyles, many of us don’t get enough sleep. But, just like you need to make time for exercise, you need to make time for quality sleep. Admittedly, balancing our own wellbeing against other personal and professional responsibilities is tough, but do not compromise on your health for success.

Schedule 7 to 9 hours of sleep (the average amount adults needs in a night, although some naturally need more) into your day. What you get from a good night’s rest cannot be supplemented elsewhere. Your body and mind are more apt to change other habits (like wake time) if they’re well-rested.

3. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule.

Don’t just get enough sleep once in a while. Get enough sleep every day.

“Many people think they’re getting more or less than they actually are,” says Colette Haward, MD, a psychiatrist in New York City. Watch out for that. An inconsistent sleep schedule means that, “Your sleep cycle is pushed back a few hours. It’s delayed at night, which causes excessive sleepiness in the morning and during the day,” Dr. Haward says.

Sleeping two hours later on Saturday and Sunday also throws off your internal clock during the week. “We all have a 24-hour clock that regulates our sleep-wake cycle,” Dr. Haward explains. That is why it’s so important to keep a consistent sleep schedule and get the recommended hours of shuteye.

Nathaniel Watson, MD and president-elect of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, agrees.

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“Keeping a consistent sleep schedule,” he says “is one of the best ways to ensure you’re getting quality, restful sleep.” It will reflect on your wake time, as well.

4. Adjust your sleep schedule gradually.

Just because you should get enough sleep and keep a consistent sleep schedule doesn’t mean you should shift your schedule suddenly. Drastic adjustment will keep you rebounding between early and late times, rather than helping you create lasting change.

Start adjusting your bedtime gradually by just 15 minutes at a time, advices Dr. Haward. And, if you have a sleep debt to repay, it’s better to nap during the day than to mess up your nightly sleep schedule. That said, don’t take extended daytime naps, because they can keep you up at night.

5. Establish a relaxing evening routine.

A relaxing evening routine can help to clue your body into what is to come. It will chill you out and let your mind know that it is nearly time to fall asleep. For example, Dr. Haward recommends taking 30 minutes to prepare yourself for sleep with a three-step plan:

Firstly, take a hot bath or shower (when you step out, your body temperature drops, which encourages sleep); secondly, jot down a list of things you’re worried about to clear your mind; and thirdly, dim the lights and meditate, do some deep breathing or practice progressive relaxation, in which you slowly tense and then relax all your muscles from scalp to toes.

Drinking a cup of (decaffeinated) tea and reading for 20 minutes or so each night before bed is also a good and relaxing routine you can establish. A relaxing routine will help you sleep better and wake up fresh.

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6. Create a sleep sanctuary.

Once you know when to sleep and what to do right before bedtime, it’s important to make your bedroom conducive for sound sleeping. A snooze-friendly bedroom is clean, quiet, comfortable, and dark (light suppresses secretions of sleep-inducing melatonin).

Your bedroom also needs to be cool to allow you to sleep comfortably and wake up rejuvenated.

“The magic number for a sleep-friendly room is around 69 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Dr. Haward. A wool blanket can also go a long way in keeping you cool throughout the night.

“Wool is a fantastic insulator but also good for wicking away moisture and keeping you cool,” Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep, says. And if your mattress leaves you achy, now is a good time to upgrade.

7. Power down and unplug from technology.

Any kind of bright light emitted by electronic devices in the bedroom can shift your circadian rhythms, making it harder to get a good night’s sleep. So, no late-night TV shows and no checking e-mail in bed. Dr. Haward notes that televisions, cell phones, and computer screens all emit blue light, which suppresses melatonin production. Turn off those electronic screens at least an hour before bed to make dozing easier.

8. Hop into bed and get some sleep.

If you can’t fall asleep: “After 30 minutes, get up and engage in a quiet activity. Don’t flip on bright overhead lights; use a soft table lamp instead,” says Dr. Haward. Twenty minutes into a favorite book or crossword puzzle in a dimly lit room and you should notice your eyelids dropping. Time to hit the sack.

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9. Break up with the snooze button.

When the alarm goes off and your immediate temptation is to hit snooze, go ahead and do it. Hit the snooze button, but get out of bed. Wait for those next few minutes before the alarm goes off again to pass while you are out of bed. The idea is known as “inverted snooze.” It helps ease the pain of waking up by telling yourself you only have those few minutes to stick it out.

Stretch, move around, start brewing coffee, make an entry in your diary – do something, anything to keep yourself awake. By the time the alarm goes off again you should be fully awake and alert, rather than dull and still grumpy in bed, likely to hit snooze again.

10. Seize the day and make things happen.

Starting the day in grouch mode, thinking about all the things you don’t want to do today is a terrible way to start your day. It might even de-motivate you from the wonderful habit of waking up early you’ve started. Instead, remind yourself of your motive for waking up early and think ahead to the best things you’ll do all day. It will stir your energy and fuel your desires to seize the day and make things happen.

Eat a healthy breakfast. Exercise. Be your best self. Your willpower is at its peak in the morning. Make the most of it!

Featured photo credit: lzf via shutterstock.com

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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