This morning habit will lighten your working day, with an inner calm that lasts

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If mornings were a celebrity, they’d be that rock star hell raiser – kicking up trouble and creating mayhem, when in fact they’re just widely misunderstood. 

Because, whatever coffee shop signs tell you, mornings weren’t made to “rise and grind”. Too many of us spend the first part of the day in a kind of anxious spin, dashing from one task to the next – with bed hair that’s barely receded. 

And if we’re not on some mad productivity spin, churning through the inbox with all the zeal of a shark that’s spotted blood, we feel like we have to be doing something worthy; like mixing green powders or going on a hike, à la Orlando Bloom

Mornings weren’t made to rise and grind

But mornings aren’t meant to be the moral or operational high point of your day, from which everything beyond goes downhill. Instead, they set the tone for what lies ahead, and ease you into what is, for far too many of us, an already exhausting schedule

So, rather than hurling yourself out of bed, revving up to the day like Wim Hof would an ice bath, try taking half an hour to chill instead. Here’s why it can help:

Sleep is a process – it takes a while to come round

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When you wake up, you’re a bit like a bear post-hibernation (admittedly, some of us are more growly than others). And a bear in that state doesn’t pretend to be some bouncing bunny instead. 

Sleep, as we know, is deeply nourishing and important to mood and cognitive abilities. So, it makes sense to respect the process. Give yourself time. Wake up slowly. Examine the morning light on the ceiling. Drink a cuppa in bed. 

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It takes up to half an hour for that morning “brain fog” (and yes, it is a thing) to recede; don’t try and chase it out the building. That inner bear of yours *really* doesn’t fancy a 6am disco spin. 

Lie-ins are for life – not just for weekends

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It’s ironic that at weekends we allow ourselves to chill a little; when, in fact, many of us are already relaxed. It’s the weekend, which means free time. Space to roam. No need to show up, do or prove anything. 

 

Carve out some time to come round to the world

Wouldn’t it be nice to take a slice of that delicious feeling and take it into weekdays, too? Let’s face it, most of us don’t have lives that fit neatly into “work” and “leisure” compartments. So rather than assuming that, when we’re stressed, we need more free time or holidays – isn’t the challenge to make our work days more relaxing? 

Half an hour extra in bed during the week is an excellent way to begin with this task. Instead of telling your body, “Go! Go! Go! Oh, and look – there’s a Sabre-toothed tiger in the hedge,” you’re saying, “Take it easy. Slow down. No need to rush”. What better message to create balance and keep a lid on those soaring cortisol levels? 

Slow down – in whatever way you can

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Of course, many people will feel they simply don’t have the luxury of a lie-in. You might have young kids demanding cereal around 5am, or an early meeting to get to. Or conversely, you may struggle to get out of bed, so you need some motivation.

Broadly speaking, however, the answer to these scenarios remains the same. Yes, you can do things that make mornings easier; like arranging your outfit the night before, or creating a spot where your phone and keys will always be. 

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These steps may be helpful, in the same way that a morning jog is a religion for some people; and a vital way to get out from under the duvet. Do what works for you. But, in this always-on culture we live in, relaxation is easy to forget. So, if you can, carve out some time to come round to the world. It could be half an hour, it could be ten minutes. 

However you cut it, giving yourself space after waking up to slow down, take a breath and come round before the day begins in earnest – even in a way that’s not structured (e.g. meditation) – can line you up for a less hectic day ahead. It gives your mind and body a powerful memo that you have time. Don’t rush. You’ve got this. You don’t need to **do** anything.

In an age of relentless grind, it’s a rare reminder; and one that begins the day as calm as we hope to go on. 

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