Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
Follow your own path

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Simple Strategies to Start Your Day Off Right

Do you have a short fuse? Is your usual breakfast a cup of java? Can't sleep at night? Run out of steam before the day is over? Many of us are rushed, ragged, and run down on a regular basis. We snap at the kids, the spouse, the dog. We splurge on ice cream, chocolate, or down a few glasses of wine at night to relax and then we wonder why we wake up in the middle of the night. Seems like a vicious cycle but it doesn't have to be this way.

There are some simple strategies we can implement every morning that will help us cope with the stresses of the day, have more energy, and have better control over what goes in and comes out of our mouths. 

As a single mom of two young boys, holding down a demanding career in IT, managing a house, and all the issues of life, I learned that starting my day off right was more than a bowl of Special K. If I wanted to come home at night and be ready to deal with two small boys, homework, sports activities, and then grad school studies, I needed to make some adjustments. So today I am sharing these simple but effective strategies with you so that you, too, can feel good when your head hits the pillow at night.

1) Start off the day with quiet and movement.
For me, that meant rising before the sun and the kids, donning a pair of running shoes and going for a jog around the nearby college campus. The trail around the campus was lined with trees and every so often deer would come out to meet me. In the same way a deer pants for water, I was thirsting for time with God and this was the only way I could find it. The peace and quiet of the early morning campus was like a meditation of sorts. I could clear my mind and focus on the energy moving through my body.

Solitude is so important. It allows us to think through problems, prepare ourselves for the events of the day, and calm our restless minds. Movement also gets our energy flowing. Even a few yoga poses or stretches will help move the blood and the chi that has been stagnant over night.

2) Fuel up with good nutrition.
It's been said breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Fresh fruit with oatmeal or yogurt, peanut butter on whole-grain toast, or an egg sandwich are all good ways to nourish the body and kick start our metabolism. A Starbuck's coffee, although quick and temporarily filling, is not going to give our bodies and brains the nutrition they need to function at optimal performance. Did you know your brain uses 20 - 25% of the calories we consume? When we use our brains for heavy thinking, it uses more. I also pack a nutritious lunch. Coworkers used to make fun of my healthy lunches, my supply of dried fruits, prunes, and nuts. I know I am what I eat and when others reached for the candy jar, I reached for a nutritious snack.

3) Dress for success
How I look has an impact on how I feel about myself. Yes, it takes time to do my hair, put on makeup, and exercise, but people notice. When I glimpse in the mirror, I feel positive. When I dress nicely, I feel better about myself. People do judge by appearances, sorry to say. A popular pastor recommends looking in the mirror every morning and saying "Girl, you look good today". I think that is pretty good advice. Most of us look in the mirror and see nothing but the wrinkles, the dark circles, or the thighs. As my mom would say, "Accentuate the positive and minimize the negative". None of us are perfect, not even the models in the magazines. Everyone has something they are not happy with, so go ahead and do your hair, put on some lipstick, and above all, wear a smile to work.

4) Set Your Intention for the day
Be intentional about your focus for the day. For example, if I am working on being patient, I will say "Today I will be patient with everyone I meet". Setting an intention helps keep our focus on what we want to improve on. Other examples are "Today I will remain calm" or "Today I will be kind". I personally have to use the same intention for a while before it becomes a habit. It helps me to memorize a scripture verse to go along with it. One verse I love is "This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it," This verse reminds me to have a positive attitude when I wake up. Have you noticed that negative thoughts seem to bombard you first thing in the morning? We need to counteract these thoughts with positive thoughts right off the bat or that is the way our day will go. I use scripture but you can use whatever sacred text or words that have meaning for you.

These four strategies cover all three parts of us: body, mind, and spirit. We must tend to every aspect of our being if we want to achieve healing, wholeness, and harmony. What area do you struggle with most? Is it your weight, your energy level, your self-confidence? These tips are guaranteed to help all of them. I hope you try these for yourself and I'd love to hear how things go for you. You don't have to live a life of lethargy and exhaustion.

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Until next time, keep smiling and keep looking up!

Ariel