Days come, days go. Some last an eternity, others fly by. Some are cheerful, others uneventful. Yet you can be sure that the sun and the moon will rise and set, that the birds will sing in the morning.
I used to have a busy corporate job in London. Once I learned to live my days mindfully, I noticed how I became much more relaxed. The days weren’t less stressful, but I wasn’t as stressed anymore. Instead, I was feeling grateful for my life.
I often help clients of my coaching practice improve their work-life balance. These five tips have helped them to anchor their days and have more fun. They gained time as they prioritized according to their values.
1. Wake up mindfully.
When your alarm rings, take a moment to notice the blank canvas of a new day. I always feel mornings are freshly quiet as the day is still unwritten. Don’t check your messages yet, and get present to this particular morning. Is the sky blue or gray? Are your dreams still with you? Are you feeling rested or restless?
Slowly turn your attention to the day ahead and set an intention. What matters most to you today? An example could be "I want a loving relationship," or "I want to deliver a flawless presentation." Repeat it a few times, write it down or pick an object like a bracelet or picture to remind you during the day. Once you’ve made your intention clear, you’ll be surprised how often it comes true, usually in an unexpected way.
2. Follow a morning practice.
Dedicate a part of your morning to a routine, such as yoga or meditation. If you prefer to putter around the house or go for a run, that’s fine too. Most importantly, create an oasis of calm so you can anchor yourself in your values, even if only for 10 minutes. If you have a family, carve out some time before everyone wakes up, or during your commute.
My own practice combines meditation and yoga. It normally lasts an hour, but I can shorten it to 30 minutes. Meditation stills my mind, and mindful breathing connects me to life’s flow. Yoga offers an opportunity to love my body. I add restorative or energizing poses according to my body's needs. Even after sleeping restlessly, 10 sun salutes will refresh me.
3. Love your food.
The food you take in makes a big difference to your day, but first make sure your food goes out! Rehydrating your body does wonders to kick start your digestion. I drink a liter and a half of lukewarm water and herbal tea every morning, ideally before starting my routine.
Then it's time to think about food! What are you craving? What does your body need? If you're fighting a cold, add turmeric or echinacea to your smoothie. If you're anticipating a demanding day, make a filling breakfast, like oatmeal. I mostly eat fruit and vegetables to complement the body’s nightly detox. Think of breakfast literally — better not to break your fast with a huge meal!
4. Keep it simple.
Now we're ready to move. Whatever comes your way, keep it simple. Flow with the day, observe what it brings, and play with it. Keep your mind cool, your heart open, and you'll make sharp, intuitive decisions.
It helps to set your priorities so that you’ll feel content about having written that article, or gone for a run. What is the one thing that you want to do today, if nothing else?
Combine being organized and flexible. I always leave free time so that on a beautiful day I can go out in nature. Do you allow yourself to do something spontaneous, like curling up in bed if you feel like it?
This is not selfish or self-indulgent. The more you do the things you love, the more fulfilled you’ll be. Consequently, you'll have more energy to grow and be available to the people you love.
Closing your day is as important as starting it. Some people list the things they’re grateful for. I always make sure to check out the night sky — watching the moon and stars connects me to the bigger picture of life.
At least 30 minutes before going to sleep, set your devices on airplane mode. Keep your bed for sleeping and only go there once you're ready to sleep. Set your alarm for the 7-9 hours of sleep you need plus a little extra to account for falling asleep. The more regular your sleeping, the easier your body will unwind and rejuvenate.
My body’s natural rhythm is to sleep early and wake up with the birds when a fresh new day is about to start!