As a Naturopathic Doctor, I’m always counseling patients on sleep hygiene (what you do 1-2 hours before bed) as it can have a significant impact on your sleep quality and duration. This past winter though, I realized that “sleep hygiene” is important for going to sleep, but “wake up hygiene” is equally important for waking up from sleep.
This goes beyond brushing your teeth, getting ready and making your breakfast smoothie. What I’m talking about is how you emotionally set your day. The degree at which you set your emotional thermostat is likely how your internal emotional temperature will stay throughout the day. I’m sure you all are thinking I’m going to say to do yoga, exercise, or meditate in the morning. Those are all great ways to start the day if you can, but I’ll be the first to say that for me, that is just not going to happen! I am not a morning person. In fact, the last thing I want to do when I wake up is exercise (I’m more of a night owl in regards to this). And although I meditate, I think it’s a stretch to even believe I could do so properly when I’m in such a groggy state of mind. So before I tell you what works for me, let me tell you what didn’t work for me last winter.
Last winter in Toronto was especially cloudy and rainy. I noticed once we had 2.5 weeks without sun, and like other Torontonians it was having an effect on my mood. I would get up frustrated from my annoying alarm clock ringtone, and then the FIRST thought in my mind when I looked out the window would be, “Wow, another crappy day.”
As I continued throughout my morning, I would think more negative thoughts – about the day, about the things I had to do, about my life, and I would carry this toxic sludge inside. I did this for many months unconsciously, as we all do. At first, they were just thoughts. They were separate from me – isolated instances in my mind, but then, after so much practice, I started to believe them. Eventually, they started to reinforce my negative self-beliefs. One day, I woke up, and I can honestly say that I was so annoyed and tired of telling myself that it was another crappy gloomy day. So, I didn’t. I couldn’t say it was a sunny day, because it wasn’t, and I couldn’t say that it was the best morning of my life, because that would’ve been a lie, but what I did say, was this:
“Today is a new day, and I’m open to the possibility of it being a good day.”
It made me feel good, and it made me feel truthful to how I felt. It also gave me the positivity to reject some of the negative thoughts that would come into my mind. I can’t say that it changed me into feeling like I lived in utopia, but the cumulative effect shifted my perspective and thought pattern. I started to build on it, and think about 5 things I was grateful for to start my day. It pushed me to meditate more often in the middle of the day when I was feeling agitated. It made dealing with those cloudy months just a little bit easier. After all, those cloudy days are going to happen no matter what you think. And much to my detest, mornings will always be here, but tuning my emotional thermostat to a happier, more open temperature has made dealing with mornings a bit easier…which for this night owl is about as good as gold.
Dr. Rahim Kanji is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Toronto, Canada. He has a passion for evidence-based natural medicine, specifically empowering his patients to make nutritional changes which create dramatic impacts to their health. For more information, visit his website at www.rahimkanjind.com.