Your alarm has gone off and after a few bleary-eyed moments of coming to, you start to realize everything you have ahead of you that day. You have a big meeting at work that you have to present for, but what if the subway is delayed again and you arrive frazzled and late? Your kids have a test today and even though you helped them study all night, what if still they get a dreaded C?
Phew, OK. Deep breaths. Time to incorporate some mindfulness.
Live in the Present Moment
Rather than worry about the what-ifs of the day, allow yourself to use the first 10 minutes of your morning to live in the present moment.
“A lot of people are in a heightened state of anxiety first thing in the morning,” says Keeley Teemsma-English, a Brooklyn-based therapist and licensed clinical social worker. “You wake up and all the stress of work, life, relationships, etc., can hit you all at once.”
This is where mindfulness can come in to save the day, so to speak.
“Mindfulness is about being in the moment,” Teemsma-English says. “You’re not worrying about the future, you’re not worrying about things that have already happened, you’re in that moment in time and you’re aware of what’s going on around you.”
By being aware of not only how you feel emotionally and physically in that place in time, you also get a stronger sense of what’s going on around you and focusing on that.
Five Senses Mindfulness Exercise
For your mindfulness morning exercises, Teemsma-English suggests incorporating all five of your senses. For instance, listen for sounds (the singing of a bird outside your window), look for sights (the way the morning sun hits your window), smell scents (the brewing of your morning coffee), experience tastes (enjoy the various texture and yumminess of your peanut butter and banana on toast), and reach out and touch something (give your dog her morning pet).
You can do this five times for each sense, she says, focusing solely on them as part of your mindfulness practice.
She says that a lot of her patients enjoy using their meditation apps first thing in the morning, as the guided exercises are usually short and sweet (roughly three minutes) and it can re-wire you to open those instead, rather than a stress-inducing email or social media check-in.
Another possible mindfulness step to take in the morning, she says, is to quite literally take some steps. Before you start your morning routine or head out the door for food, take a 10-minute mindfulness walk to clear your head, all while incorporating your five senses.
But even if you aren’t someone who gets stressed out first thing in the morning, Teemsma-English says incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine “starts you off on the right foot.” “You proactively de-stress and you don’t worry yourself about things that are on your plate for that day,” she says. Instead, “you learn to assign importance to the things that really matter. You learn not to add value to the things that don’t deserve our time or energy.”