Podcast episode 15 How to start your day feeling calm
Welcome to Pressing Pause, the podcast for overthinkers.
I’m Gabrielle Treanor and I’m a writer and teacher specialising in overthinking and overworrying. Here I share with you ideas, inspiration and actions to empower you to spend less time overthinking and worrying and more time enjoying your life.
Hello and welcome to episode 15. Today I’m talking about how we can start the day feeling calm and in control rather than frazzled and stressed out. I don’t know about you but I’m not a morning person. I never have been the kind of person to leap out of bed the second the alarm goes off and I don’t see that changing any time soon. So while there’s no magic spell that turns you into a morning person or makes everything become super easy, your kids perfectly behaved and an invisible maid to make your breakfast, there are actions you can take to determine the trajectory of your day.
And just to be clear, I’m not suggesting you set your alarm any earlier, or find more time in your morning routine. I’m not going to suggest you do half an hour of yoga or vigorous body brushing in the shower or say you mustn’t touch your phone for the first hour, but if you want to do those things please do. What I’m going to share is more about your mental approach to the day as you go about your morning routine.
So, here are five ways you can begin your day on a more positive, nourishing note. You can try one, some or all of them, whatever you feel fits with you and your schedule.
Okay, number 1 before you get out of bed
You’re awake, just about, you know you need to heave yourself out of bed but before you do, take a moment to practise a little loving-kindness. This is an ancient meditation where you extend kindness to yourself and to others, and while it seems very simple it can really improve how you feel at the start of the day.
First of all, imagine the face of someone you love and repeat these words to yourself a couple of times:
May they be safe
May they be happy
May they be healthy
May they live with ease
Then picture a wider group of people in your mind, perhaps your friends, work colleagues or your neighbours, and repeat the phrases again.
Finally picture yourself where you’re lying in bed and repeat the words one last time, replacing ‘they’ with ‘I’.
May I be safe
May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I live with ease
This is a shorter, simplified version of loving-kindness meditation but you get the idea, it’s about extending compassion to yourself and others. Try taking a few moments to say these words and see if it gives your day a more positive intention than simply rolling out of bed with a groan.
Number 2 when you’re in the bathroom
Choose one of your daily rituals such as brushing your teeth or washing your face, and make it a mindful activity. Rather than thinking about everything you have to do today focus your attention on what you’re doing in that moment in time. Feel the tube in your hand as you squeeze toothpaste onto your brush, watch how your mouth changes shape as you move the toothbrush around, notice how the toothpaste tastes and smells. You don’t need to have an opinion on what you’re doing or judge your brushing technique, you’re just noticing what’s taking place as this moment, just as it is. Your to do list won’t vanish, it’ll still be there when you leave the bathroom, you’re just not bringing it with you, mentally, into the bathroom.
Number 3 as you’re getting dressed
This is another opportunity to practice mindfulness and give your mind a break from the millions of thoughts rushing around it. You can focus on the action of choosing, ironing, and putting on your clothes. Or you can use this time to practise another positive intention – gratitude. Think of something, or several things, that you’re thankful for in your life right now. The more specific the better and it can be as tiny as you like, you don’t need to search around for something momentous. You could be thankful that your child slept until past 6am or that you feel prepared for today’s meeting or that the sun is shining. Think about why you’re thankful for whatever it is and let that feeling soak in. It’s easy to leap forward into imagining the day ahead and dive straight into overthinking mode. This short gratitude practice reminds you of what is already good about your day, before it’s barely begun. Listen to episode 3 for more on the life-changing power of feeling grateful.
Number 4 while you’re getting ready
It may feel like your morning is rushing along already but you still have the rest of the day ahead of you. What do you want to do today, what would feel like an achievement or simply enough? It doesn’t need to be a big goal or hitting a target, your one aim for the day could be to get outside at lunchtime. Or to clean the bathroom. Or to notice when you’re being mean to yourself. What is one thing you could do today that would feel like success, however small, and in whatever shape? Create that one intention for yourself.
And number 5 before your day really gets going
So now you’ve created that one intention for yourself, think about how you want to feel and create an affirmation to remind yourself throughout the day. Let me give you some examples. If you’re feeling nervous you could give yourself the affirmation ‘I am brave’ or ‘I can do this’. If you’re unsure what’s going to happen you could use ‘I am open to today’. If your confidence is low you could repeat to yourself ‘I am enough’ or ‘I am doing my best’.
Or, instead of an affirmation you could use a mantra to remind yourself of how you want to feel or behave. So, for example, if you think you’re going to feel tense and stressed, repeat the mantra ‘Breathe in, breathe out’. If you’re feeling under pressure, say to yourself as often as you need ‘Nothing needs to be perfect’. To help you think of a word or phrase imagine what you would love a friend to say to you today, something that would help you right now, and say it to yourself. When you find words that feel good write them on a piece of paper or make a note in your phone so you can see and repeat it throughout the day.
These ideas don’t change your to do list or your responsibilities and they don’t change you, your family or your co-workers into perfect people. By following these suggestions as you go about your usual morning routine you can be more mindful, more intentional about how you feel and how you approach your day, so that you start off being proactive rather than reactive.
And if you’d like to find out how giving yourself just three minutes a day can soothe your whirring, overthinking mind, take a look at Exhale, my beginners’ guide to meditation for overthinkers. The course starts whenever you join and it includes interviews with women who share how they benefit from fitting meditation around their work and family lives. Go to gabrielletreanor.com/podcast for a link in the show notes or find it in the courses section of my website. You’ll also find all the other podcast episodes and show notes on my site too.
Thanks for joining me for Pressing Pause, until next time, lovely people.