By: Charlotte Miller
That early morning chime on your phone wakes you up abruptly and you immediately go to your phone. You scroll through Instagram mindlessly and check to see if there are any Snapchat story updates from friends across the world. What have people been doing while you have been asleep? Did you miss anything in the news or on your feed? The pressure of trying to keep up with friends online often leaves us stressed.
This is an all too common example of how many of us start the day. It may be tempting to fall in the technology trap, but there is truly nothing on your phone that cannot wait 15 minutes. Your social media and news will still be there, trust me.
No one wants to start their day stressed out. What causes this? An overload of the stress hormone, cortisol. “Cortisol plays a key role in the physical adaptation to increased energy demands during stress periods” (Dedovic et al., 2009). An early morning spike in cortisol can negatively impact how your mind and body react and adapt to stressful situations throughout the day, and smartphones are to blame. Excessive smartphone use can have negative effects on cognitive control and reward prediction (Chun et al., 2018). Moral of the story: eliminate phone use in the early mornings, it will reduce stress levels and help you better manage challenging tasks throughout the day!
As soon as my alarm rings, I turn it off and put my phone back on my dresser, face down. I get out of bed, open my shades to let the morning sunlight fill my room and I make my bed. Who doesn’t love getting into a made bed every night? Making your bed when you wake up starts your day with intention and productivity. I then go into a morning stretch, usually lasting around five minutes.*
“The ability of connective and muscular tissues to change their architecture in response to stretching is important for their proper function, repair and performance” (Apostolopoulos et al, 2015).
My stretching routine is followed by writing my schedule for the day in my journal. I like to think of my daily schedule as less of a to-do list and more as my intentions for the day. Intentional focus. What do I want to achieve today, and how am I going to achieve it?
Now, I cannot claim to be a productive over-achiever every day but, I am committed to consciously trying to progress in different areas of my life: intentional focus. I wash my face with cold water to wake me up and usually end my morning routine with a coffee or kombucha. This formula for success takes no longer than fifteen minutes, but it makes sure I start my day on the right foot, set intentions for the day and am conscious of my mind and body. I then pick up my phone and (not to my surprise) everything that was there fifteen minutes ago, is still there!
Starting the morning with a mindful routine sets the day up for success. Going into the day with intentional focus yields progress. Having a morning routine, like starting on time and having an interruption-free morning, will ultimately lead to a more productive day.
*This is my favorite quick stretching sequence by health and fitness influencer, Katie Austin.*
Apostolopoulos, N., Metsios, G., Flouris, A., Koutedakis, Y., & Wyon, M. (2015). The relevance of stretch intensity and position-a systematic review. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1128–. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01128
Chun, J. W., Choi, J., Cho, H., Choi, M. R., Ahn, K. J., Choi, J. S., & Kim, D. J. (2018). Role of Frontostriatal Connectivity in Adolescents With Excessive Smartphone Use. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 437. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00437
Dedovic K, Duchesne A, Andrews J, Engert V, Pruessner JC. The brain and the stress axis: the neural correlates of cortisol regulation in response to stress. NeuroImage (2009) 47:864–71. 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.05.074