How to Make the Most of Your Mornings
by: Deepak Chopra, M.D.
If you tell people that every morning should be like Saturday, they'd find the suggestion hard to compute. For most people, weekdays start out hectically; it’s a time when they’re under pressure to get breakfast on the table, pack children off to school, and get to work on time. By contrast, Saturday morning is relaxed, a time when someone can cheerfully look forward to the rest of the day. In terms of balanced mind and body, it's important to close this disparity.
Let's rethink the most important elements of a typical morning.
Millions of people neglect or even ignore the importance of waking up refreshed after a good night's sleep. They push the envelope by going to bed too late and spending time in bed texting, reading emails, and catching up on work. If you deprive yourself of sleep, you throw your body out of balance, which has biochemical consequences. The brain is caught in limbo between being groggy and fully awake. This can upset hormonal balance, which can lead to disruptions in other parts of life, including losing control over your appetite. Impulse eating has a lot to do with imbalance between the hormones that make us feel hungry and not hungry.
We've all been conditioned that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which is certainly true for growing children. For adults, who don’t have blood sugar issues, respecting your own body is a better rule. Experiment with less food or even skipping breakfast. There is growing respect for fasting diets that involve taking no food between dinner and lunch the next day. The theory is that the digestive system benefits from this long time off.
In any case, breakfast shouldn't be a meal where you consume sugar and excess fat, or too many calories. Skim milk, a piece of toast, and a cup of coffee may be all you need, or a veggie smoothie. The way to judge what is right for you is to assess your energy level halfway through the morning. If you feel an energy drop, you probably need a bite to eat, although for most people, losing energy a few hours after getting up indicates lack of sleep, not lack of food.
Millions of people rush through their mornings, cramming as many tasks as they can in the shortest period of time. But this is the opposite of what a morning should be, which is the launch of a day where you feel happy, relaxed, and in control. If that's not your norm, rethink how you use your time in the morning. A good medium is to allow one and a half hours between waking up and going to work. In this time, you can fit in meditation, some stretching, a brief stroll outside, and other activities to settle your mind and feel centered.
You might also sit and spend a few moments visualizing the rest of your day, seeing everything falling into place and working out well. Whatever puts pressure on you should be minimized, including catching up on work, emails, and texting. The morning is about renewal. If you make this your theme, you will find that hectic mornings are no longer necessary or desirable.
Experts on happiness point out that a happy life is made up of happy days, not postponing happiness until the future. So being awake, relaxed, optimistic, and in control—all essential ingredients for a happy day—is something you owe yourself. Sit down with yourself, consult with your family, and see if you can find ways to make sure every morning comes closer to this ideal.