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Last Updated on April 20, 2021

5 Best Guided Morning Meditations for Energy And Motivation

5 Best Guided Morning Meditations for Energy And Motivation

Do you wake up feeling fatigued, depressed, or unmotivated? Adding a simple morning meditation for energy may help. Practice one of these guided morning meditations for increased energy and motivation daily, and you will wake up refreshed and ready to take on each day!

The benefits of meditation are hard to ignore. Meditation is a long-held tradition in Eastern cultures that has recently become popularized in Western culture, using science to back its effectiveness. Meditation has been proven to decrease stress, depression, anxiety, and pain. It has also been shown to increase motivation and attention.[1]

What is Meditation?

First, let’s explore the different forms of meditation before diving into specific guided morning meditations for energy and motivation.

There are a few different forms of meditation that we will explore:

  • Moving Meditation
  • Mindfulness Meditation
  • Mantra Meditation

Moving meditation combines gentle exercises, breathing, and focus. Examples of moving meditation include walking meditation, yoga, tai chi, or qigong.[2]

Mindfulness meditation involves present-moment awareness of whatever action you are taking. It can be practiced as you move through your day simply by bringing your awareness to your breath, mind, and body.

Mantra meditation is similar to using positive affirmations. It incorporates repetition of sounds, words, or chants as a focal point for meditation. Mantra is thought to shift stuck energy from the body. Certain mantras (or sounds) have been shown to synchronize both hemispheres of the brain. This can help oxygenate the brain, decrease blood pressure and heart rate, and calm brainwaves.[3]

While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, it provides a general introduction to the several forms of meditation. For a more comprehensive list check out: 17 Types of Meditation (Techniques and Basics) To Practice Mindfulness.

How Does Meditation Increase Energy and Motivation?

Meditation increases endorphins in the brain, which is the chemical responsible for a runner’s high. However, when compared with runners, master meditators show higher levels of endorphins than runners post-meditation.[4] Long-term meditation practices are also associated with increased melatonin, which is responsible for regulating sleep.[5] Over time, consistent sleep patterns increase overall wellbeing and energy levels.

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Other long-term effects of meditation include an increase in the grey matter in the brain. Meditation has also been linked with increased cognitive function, memory, and attention.

The long-term impacts of stress contribute to feelings of exhaustion, burnout, and fatigue. Meditation has been shown to decrease the impacts of the sympathetic nervous system (commonly referred to as the fight or flight response). A regular meditation practice may assist in relaxation by decreasing heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. [6]

However, meditation is not just for relaxation. The Buddhist tradition where mediation originated focuses on remaining alert during mindfulness. Seasoned meditators show increased alertness and awareness in brain functioning compared to non-meditators.[7]

5 Best Guided Morning Meditations for Energy and Motivation

Now that you know how meditation can help increase energy and motivation, here are the 5 best guided morning meditations you can try.

1. Wake Up With a Sun Salutation for Increased Energy

Yoga practices that focus on breathing have been shown to increase energy and attention.[8] Starting your morning with a Sun Salutation is one excellent way to increase energy and motivation in the morning for lasting results.

A Sun Salutation is a sequence of yoga poses strung together in a specific way. A focus is placed on moving mindfully with the breath through the postures. If done mindfully, one can enter a flow-like state while practicing a Sun Salutation.

Practicing Sun Salutation Type A

Inhale and reach the arms up overhead. Exhale and fold forward with a slight bend in the knees. On your next inhale, place the hands on the thighs while straightening the spine. Exhale and melt down into a forward fold once more.

On your next exhale, place your hands on the mat and step your feet into a plank pose. Lower down from straight legs or bent knees with your triceps just grazing your rib cage. Your whole body will be flat on the mat. As you inhale, keep your hands on the earth and lift your head, neck, and chest off the mat. Exhale and press back into downward-facing down.

On your next inhale walk your feet back to the top of the mat and hang in a forward fold. Roll your body up letting your head and neck come up last. You can choose to finish your practice here or flow through the sequence once more.

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If you are new to yoga, practice alongside a trained instructor or find a yoga video that walks you through the correct alignment to ensure you do not injure yourself as you practice. Allow yourself to be guided through the practice so you can focus on your breath as you move from one pose to the next.

2. Practice Walking Morning Meditation

Another way to combine movement and mindfulness is through walking meditation. Walking meditation involves slow, mindful steps with a focus on the breath. Exercising outdoors can help to boost serotonin and increase endorphins. This can be a wonderful way to start the day with increased energy and a positive mood.

Step slowly and mindfully, as if you are walking on thin ice. Slowly begin to inhale through the nose and count the number of steps you take. Then, slowly exhale and count your steps. As you walk, keep counting your steps on each inhale and exhale. Try to keep your pace even while focusing your attention on your breath and body.

Try to avoid busy areas with lots of people or traffic to reduce distraction. A walking path with lots of open space is ideal. Once you have finished you can bring your attention to the sights around you and mindfully breathe in and out as you slowly return to a normal pace.

3. Let Your Stress Melt Away During a Mindful Morning Shower Meditation

One of the easiest ways to practice meditation is by adding it into activities you already do. The trick is to bring your attention to the present moment. Choosing activities with lots of sensory input can help heighten the experience of mindfulness.

Examples of mindfulness activities can include chores like doing the dishes or sweeping. It may also involve routine activities like exercise or showering.

If you shower in the morning, you can easily incorporate mindfulness into your routine. It is best to remove any distractions while you shower but if you would like you can play gentle, instrumental music in the background. Focus on the sensation of the water running over the crown of your head and down your entire body. Imagine the water is cleansing stress, tension, and worry from the body and mind.

Bring your attention to the five senses. This can aid in grounding for decreased stress and anxiety, which will improve long-term energy and focus. Notice the temperature of the water and the air. Smell the different soaps and shampoos as you wash. Allow yourself to indulge in the moment by closing your eyes as you stand under the water. If you get distracted come back to one of your senses.

This shower meditation is a form of mindfulness. It does not take any extra time from your day. It is simply one way to incorporate present-moment awareness into your routine.

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4. Practice Bellows Breath for Increased Energy

Deep breathing is another way to increase energy and attention. There are several forms of breathing exercises utilized in yoga and meditation. Breath of fire or bellows breath is one exercise for increasing energy and vitality.[9]

This breathing exercise can cause dizziness or light-headedness. Discontinue practicing if you experience any negative side effects and return to normal breathing.

Begin by inhaling through the nose. With a forceful exhale, contract the diaphragm as you breathe out through the nose. Inhale and allow the belly to expand and then exhale and allow it to contract.

When first starting, it can be helpful to go slowly. Reverse breathing, where you expand the belly on the exhale and contract on the inhale, is common but should be avoided.

Once you have the rhythm down, you can move quickly through the breathing exercises. An emphasis is placed on the inhale while the exhale is forceful and contracted. The inhale and exhale should be similar in duration.

Aim for three breath cycles a second. Do not practice for more than 15 seconds without taking a break when you are first starting. As you become more advanced you can add 5 seconds, working your way up to a minute of practice.

5. Practice Mantra Morning Meditation for Increased Energy

Science suggests that repeating the mantra “OM” can result in increased alertness and sensitivity to sensations (pronunciation of “OM” sounds similar to “A-U-M”). In spiritual traditions, it is considered a primordial sound, which created all other sounds[10].

When “OM” is chanted aloud, it vibrates at 136.1 Hertz. This is the same frequency as everything in nature.[11] Scientific studies have uncovered evidence to suggest that chanting OM may be related to vagus nerve activation, which assists in the rest and digest response in the nervous system.[12]

If you are new to chanting, it can be helpful to practice reciting “OM” aloud. The sound of “OM” is similar to “A-U-M” with the word being drawn out for several seconds on the exhale. More seasoned meditators may choose to focus on the word internally.

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To begin, simply inhale, and on you exhale, chant “A-U-M.” You may choose to set a timer on your phone for as long as you have to practice.

Another way to practice mantra or chanting is to use mala beads. Mala beads come from the Hindu faith and are a string of 108 beads with one larger bead at the end. Hold the mala in your left hand and begin with the first bead between the thumb and pointer finger. Each time you chant OM, move your fingers to the next bead until you reach the largest bead, also known as the guru bead.

Once you have finished, take a few moments to sit in silence and observe any new thoughts or sensations that arise.

Incorporate Morning Meditation into Your Routine

Now that you know the 5 best guided morning meditations for energy and motivation, where do you begin?

Follow these tips for forming a new habit:

  1. Set realistic and sustainable goals
  2. Practice at the same time, every day
  3. Weave the practice into your current routine

Ten weeks may be a realistic time frame to commit to a consistent practice, despite the adage that it takes 21 days to form a habit.[13] Choose one of the morning meditations for energy and motivation that fits your current schedule. Keep it simple and try to build it into your already established routine.

Choosing to practice at the same time every day will make it easier to practice consistently. Instead of looking at this like something you have to do, choose to view it as something you get to do. This should be an enjoyable activity that you look forward to each morning.

Doing one of these activities each day can assist with increased energy and motivation, not to mention the variety of established physical and psychological benefits of meditation. Practice these guided morning meditations for energy and motivation every day for ten weeks and you might just become a morning person, after all.

Featured photo credit: Sage Friedman via unsplash.com

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Reference

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Olivia Schnur

Olivia is a Clinical Mental Health Counselor and Registered Yoga Teacher. She writes about healing, health and happiness.

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Published on July 15, 2021

Shift Work Disorder: 17 Ways to Manage it Better

Shift Work Disorder: 17 Ways to Manage it Better

Are you having trouble sleeping? Or do you feel like you can barely stay awake when you need to? Are you left tired and irritable, lacking the joy and motivation that life once brought? If these complaints are tied to your long or rotating work schedule, you may be suffering from shift work disorder—a common ailment among professions with schedules outside the typical 9 am to 6 pm range.[1]

Why does it matter? Let’s be honest—being tired stinks. It feels terrible and leaves you vulnerable to many health risks that well-rested people aren’t as susceptible to. Not only that, but it can also wreak havoc on your relationships and quality of life.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to help manage this, and you can start trying them out today! Some of the solutions may not be what you expect. For instance, you might have linked improved sleep to exercise, but did you know that being compassionate with yourself can also have an impact?

Who Are Affected by Shift Work Disorder?

Twenty-five million people are shift workers in the country, so you are far from alone if you are struggling with this. Shift work disorder is a condition frequently affecting anyone who works a job where their schedule is outside standard business hours. Nurses, police officers, firefighters, and factory workers are common examples of professions with schedules that rotate around the clock.

Rotating shifts naturally leads to a change in one’s schedule, including sleep. As your sleep schedule becomes more chaotic, your body is unable to adjust and regulate itself and can result in having difficulty falling or staying asleep. This inevitably leads to less sleep, which is where some big problems can arise.

What Are the Symptoms?

Sleep is one of the most important (and underrated) aspects of our lives. Enough sleep and good quality sleep are critical to our emotional, mental, and physical health.

Insufficient sleep can lead to a significantly increased risk of physical health problems, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and gastrointestinal disorders. Mentally, being tired contributes to having scattered concentration, difficulty processing information, and being more likely to make mistakes or have an accident. Emotionally, the fallout of being chronically exhausted is linked to poor emotional regulation including being irritated more quickly, as well as an increased likelihood of developing anxiety and depression.[2]

Any of this sound familiar? If so, keep reading for some scientifically-based tips to help you manage your sleep better and get your life back.

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17 Ways to Manage Shift Work Disorder Better

Quality sleep, or the lack thereof, impacts us physically, mentally, and emotionally. The most impactful plan of attack against shift work disorder and to regain quality sleep must also reflect that.

I suggest reading through all of the tips and formulating a plan based on what you think will work for you. Start by trying out one thing and build from there as you are able. Remember to construct a plan that addresses your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Let’s start in the most obvious place first:

Your Job

1. Make Your Schedule the Best It Can Be

Randomly rotating shifts has been found to have the worst impact on our health.[3] If you have to rotate your schedule, request to rotate shifts in a clockwise fashion.

For example: work the day shift, rotate to the nights, then to the early morning shift, then start back on the day shift. Sounds silly? It’s not. Studies show that our bodies more easily adjust to changes in schedule when completed in a clockwise manner.[4] This is because of something called our circadian rhythm—24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock that carry out essential functions. The most commonly known of these is sleep. It has been discovered that our circadian rhythm adjusts forward more easily than it does backward.

2. Speak to Your Manager About Keeping Your Workplace Bright

Special lights have been designed to assist with circadian rhythm. It turns out that absorbing bright light that is most similar to sunlight can positively impact regulating our circadian rhythm.[5]

3. Avoid a Long Commute to and From Work

Having a long drive home after working a rotating shift is statistically not in your best interest. It’s been shown that fatigued/sleepy employees are 70% more likely to have a workplace accident and 33% more likely to be involved in a traffic accident.[6]

To avoid putting yourself at risk by driving when you’re not at your best, catch a nap before leaving work, pull over to sleep, or stay at a friend’s house nearby.

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4. Speak to Your Manager About Your Concerns

Many companies that operate around the clock are willing and able to make accommodations to those working alternative shifts. Whether it’s helping you find a schedule that works best for you or connecting you with other programs designed to support your well-being, being in good communication with your employer is to everyone’s benefit.

Sleep Attitudes and Environment

5. Change Your Perspective and Start Prioritizing Sleep

Here’s the deal: despite some pretty well-known dangerous effects of not getting enough sleep, somewhere along the line, our society began to think of sleep as a luxury. Some even consider it a badge of honor to “power through” without much (or any) sleep. People have been made to feel embarrassed or lazy if they get the recommended amount of sleep each night.

Here’s the bottom line: sleep is not a luxury.

Let me repeat that—sleep is not a luxury, and getting a consistent and healthy amount does not make you a slacker. Sleep is actually when our body does a lot of repair work on itself—blood vessels, muscles, and other organs. Sleep also boosts our immunity.

If we could help people feel as proud about sleeping as we do about them working out regularly or sticking to a healthy diet, people might be a lot healthier.

6. Make Your Sleep Space as Conducive to Rest as Possible

This means tweaking your environment so it’s as enticing as possible for your body to go to sleep. Keep the room dark using blackout blinds, reduce the temperature (our body rests best when slightly cool), limit interruptions (phone calls, visitors, noise), and remove electronic devices.[7]

Set yourself up for success by supporting yourself through your surroundings. If you wanted to lose weight, you wouldn’t frequently surround yourself with cookies, cake, and ice cream, right? Same idea here.

Personal Habits and Choices

7. Stick to a Regular Sleep Schedule as Closely as Possible—on Workdays and Days Off

This is obviously difficult when your schedule changes on the regular, but the more consistent you can keep your bedtime, the easier time your body has getting to sleep and staying that way.[8]

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8. Allow Yourself Time to Catch Up on Sleep

Having enough days off to rest and recuperate is an important aspect of protecting your health. You wouldn’t expect to be able to drive across the country on one tank of gas, right? Filling your own personal gas tank is just as important.

9. Take Naps, but Don’t Overdo It

It’s recommended by the Cleveland Clinic to take a 90-minute nap just before starting your shift and then a 30-minute nap during your “lunch break” at work.[9] Again, this is all about keeping some gas in your tank and not allowing yourself to get to the point where you are running on fumes. Short naps will help you stay refreshed and alert on the job.

10. Limit Caffeine to the Start of Your Shift

Most of us love a good hit of caffeine, especially when we are tired. But overdoing it or having caffeine too late in your shift can negatively impact your ability to get to sleep when you finally have the time to do so. Moderate your intake to help yourself get some quality sleep.

11. Avoid Alcohol Before Bed

Unwinding after work with a drink can be tempting. It can make you drowsy, which many people mistakenly believe will help them get better sleep. Unfortunately, alcohol will actually keep you awake (or wake you up later). This obviously impairs your ability to get the quality of sleep you are looking for.

12. Don’t Smoke

Much like alcohol, people turn to nicotine to “calm their nerves” or help them relax. Also, like alcohol, nicotine has been shown to disrupt sleep.[10] Cut back or cut this habit out as able.

13. Eat Well and Eat Smart

Choose convenient nutritious meals and snacks. Nutritious food is the foundation from which our body creates the needed chemicals for quality sleep. Foods high in saturated fat and sugar have been shown to have the worst impact on sleep.[11]

Also, timing is everything as they say. Eating too much or not enough before your shift can cause you to feel tired.

14. Get Regular Exercise

According to numerous studies, exercise can be as effective in treating sleep disorders as prescription medication.[12] Yes, you read that correctly—regular exercise is the bomb!

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This one can be tricky to convince people to do, especially if they are already tired and short on time. If you don’t have the time to hit the gym, take a brisk walk, dance around your living room to your favorite song, or mow your lawn. Despite feeling tired, getting up off the couch and moving around (moderate to vigorous exercise) is best for reducing the time it takes to get to sleep and improving the quality of sleep.

Mental and Emotional

15. Establish Consistent Practices That Help You Relax Before Bed

This can include yoga, deep breathing, a warm bath, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, meditation, and hypnosis. These are designed to reduce physical tension and quiet your mind from thoughts that are keeping you awake. There are lots of great apps and free videos that can help you with this.

16. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT as it’s known, works by helping you to identify thoughts and behaviors that make sleep worse and then developing new habits consisting of thoughts and behaviors that promote sleep. There are psychologists and life coaches who are specially certified in CBT that can help you with this.

17. Show Yourself Some Compassion

Sounds silly? Well, it’s not. A seven-year study conducted at the University of Mannheim concluded that the daily practice of self-compassion positively impacted people’s quality of sleep.[13]

The concept of showing ourselves compassion is foreign (and uncomfortable) to many of us. Try going easy on yourself for being grumpy, and give yourself some credit for the efforts you are making in tough circumstances. What would you say to your best friend if they were struggling with the same situation? I routinely ask my clients this question as it’s sometimes easier to be compassionate to others than ourselves. This tip might take some practice, but the effort could result in a better night’s sleep.

Final Thoughts

Okay, there you have it—17 different ways you can help yourself manage shift work disorder, feel more rested, more like yourself, and enjoy life again. To get started with your plan, pick out a few tips that you can implement today, but remember to choose a well-rounded approach—addressing the physical, mental and emotional.

Be patient with yourself. It takes time to build new habits. And show yourself some compassion and kindness—you might just be able to sleep better when you do.

Featured photo credit: Yuris Alhumaydy via unsplash.com

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