8 Secrets to Wake Up Feeling Great

What are the toughest times of day for you as you begin life post-divorce?

Most of my clients say that the worst times in each day are often bedtime and first thing in the morning.

Because morning is so crucial to having a successful and happy day, I wanted to share some of my strategies for getting out of bed in the morning with a smile on your face.

These are some of the real-life habits I developed back when I felt my life was over, and I was engulfed in grief and remorse 24/7.  For me, mornings were actually worse than evenings because I found that I had the greatest number of negative thoughts as I lay in bed in those first waking moments before arising.

Maybe you feel the same.

Want to feel happy and hopeful every morning rather than full of dread?  You can, and all it takes is about 30 minutes of preparation, one time only.

So, here are the questions you're going to ask yourself to prepare for creating a happy morning.  Can you list at least 3 responses to each of the questions below?  Five responses or more are even better!

The questions:

1.  What do you like best about mornings (even if you're not a morning person)?

2.  What activity do you super love love love that you're hardly ever able to fit into your day (maybe you just wish you could read a fascinating book for a few minutes)?

3.  What completely new at-home activity have you been meaning to try for years, but never got around to it (a craft, a recipe, a beauty treatment, bonsai, explore your feminine sexuality . . . )?

4.  What totally silly physical activity are you way too depressed to even think about doing right now, but some part of you smiles to think of how crazy it would be to jump out of bed in the morning and do it?  (Think jumping around with earphones while listening to your favorite high school party song -- on one hand, no way, you feel way too awful to do that, but you've been feeling awful for so long that you're ready to try any fool thing in order to feel better.)

Okay.  Have you answered the four questions above?  You now have a little list of items for each of the four questions.  Now, you are ready to create a magical start to your day that will powerfully shift those dreadful morning mental and emotional states.

Just one more pre-planning step:  Circle all of the possible activities that take 15 minutes or fewer to perform.  Or, see how you could break some of those activities into baby steps, and fit something fun into about 15 minutes.

Preparation:  

1.  For your first try at this, decide to set your alarm 30 minutes earlier than you usually do.  (Get to bed a little bit early if necessary.  It's really worth a try!)

2.  Set your alarm to a favorite, uplifting song, and not a buzz-tone from your alarm clock or phone.  Make the song something that has a lot of girl-power to it.  (And definitely nothing that reminds you, in any way, of your ex-husband, or any ex for that matter!)  Are you thinking, "I have *no* idea what kind of music I'd like to wake up to"?  Check out this girl power playlist from Pop Sugar (that has many of my own favorites).

3.  On your nightstand, or next to your pillow, scribble a little note of your wake-up activity for the following day.  (You pick two responses from the four questions above.  For example, if you love to see the sunrise, then check out tomorrow's sunrise time, rise five minutes before sunrise, go outside, and see it.  Or, if the sunrise is not visible from your house, pull up one of my favorite sunrise videos on your phone.)

4.  Just choose two things from any of the four questions above and have them ready to go.  If you're going to dance it out for three minutes, have your song cued up.  If you're going to read a few pages of a book you've been dying to dive into, have the book in bed with you.  If you're going to try that relaxing facial mask, throw the ingredients together the night before.  Here are some great recipes.  

Make it a gift to yourself to have whatever it is prepared the night before.

You'll feel as if someone is really taking care of you.  And, it's true.  That person is you!  Keep it simple, but know that preparing your tomorrow is a key way to love yourself up!

And, it's morning:

5.  Alarm goes off (with cool, inspiring song).  Do the first activity on your note-to-self next to your bed.  Do it, even though for the first 30 to 60 seconds you are groaning, your eyes are rolling, and you do. not. feel. like. it.

6.  Check in with yourself.  How do you feel?  If you feel great, then ignore activity #2 and move ahead with your day.  Yay!  If you're still feeling like a very sad grumpasaurus, move on to activity #2.  Yes, I know, you still may not feel like doing it at all.  But it's just 15 minutes more (or maybe fewer).  By the time you finish that one, there's a 99% chance that you are set up for a happier day.  Don't you want to find out if that promise is true?  Then try activity #2 on your note-to-self.

7.  If you do this for a week, swapping out various activities from your list, you'll find out which ones really make you feel wonderful.  Keep those on your "magic mornings" list, but also add new stuff you'd like to try to your list.  And, please let me know how it goes!

Mwah!

.8.  Bonus goofiness.  I dare you to try this one:  Before you get out of bed, pretend you're a beautiful, powerful, in-demand diva (because, you are, but you might not know it yet).  Say aloud five times, "I am a goddess, and I now create my day!"  If this sounds totally preposterous, at least you'll laugh before your feet hit the floor.

10 ways to rock a dreary Monday

This time of year, in the Northern Hemisphere, mornings are dark and dreary, and Mondays can be the biggest challenge. Especially when you're already feeling low energy and depleted from all the changes that divorce brings.

Here are my top ten strategies to make going back to work on Mondays a happier and more rewarding experience.

Get a head start that sets you up for the whole week:
1. Have a warm and nourishing crock pot meal ready to simmer for Monday night dinner, so it's effortless when you get home. Have everything in the crock pot, in the fridge on Sunday night, so all you have to do is take the pot out of the fridge, set it into the heating element, and turn it on.

2. Get your wardrobe in order for the entire week in advance. Pull out five outfits, with all lingerie and accessories already placed on the hanger for each day. You can use this process to weed out your closet, too. As you try on clothing items, if they're too worn, don't fit right, or don't make you feel good, put them right into the donation bag for the thrift store, not back in your closet. This process will take just one hour once a week, and you'll enjoy more variety in your workplace attire instead of relying on the same outfit or two over and over. When you look good, you feel good -- and you'll be more relaxed when you don't have to make a clothing decision each and every day.

3. Get all your weekday lunches sorted in advance, too.  If you make a crock pot dish over the weekend, you can put individual portions in the refrigerator or freezer for your lunches during the week. Make sure you have individual-size yogurts or other favorite healthy snack items so that you have your lunches preplanned.

4. Get to bed on time so that you have plenty of rest.  Start to wind down about an hour before bedtime. Turn off the television and step away from your computer and phone.  Try a little yoga for relaxation, 20 minutes with a good book full of self-nurturing thoughts, and a small glass of red wine or a nice warm cup of herbal tea. Just after you turn out the lights, prayerfully release all stresses and worries, knowing that getting a good night's sleep is the best thing you can do for your future.

Feeling good from the start:
5. Create a Monday morning wake-up ritual that you love. Set your phone alarm to wake you up to a favorite song, have a special treat ready for breakfast, have an inspiring audio book ready to play on your commute. The basic idea is to make morning as cozy and luxurious as possible. No chaos, no rushing, no tension.

6. Just before you start work, do a quick week-starting ritual that sets you up for the day. Here's a suggestion: Center yourself with a few slow, deep breaths, and write your personal intention for the day on a post-it note, keeping it where you can see it during your workday

7. Keep a few fun rewards in view as the day progresses: A delicious lunch that you're looking forward to eating, a mid-afternoon treat of some kind, and definitely something fun to look forward to after work.  More on this below, under "reward yourself for your magnificence."

8. How about a 10-minute late lunchtime nap at your desk while listening to soothing music or a motivational .mp3? Go to youtube.com and search for the emotion you want to feel, such as confidence, relaxation, or abundance.

9. Preschedule a mid-afternoon break that is truly a break.  Walk away from your desk.  Talk to someone you like.  Connect, even for just a few minutes, with an activity you love.  Make your break something that you really look forward to.  Can you work from a cafe for an hour in the afternoon?  Can you take a brisk walk for a few minutes outdoors?  A change of locale can really help.

Reward yourself for your magnificence:
10. Reward yourself with something special after Monday's workday is done:   Have a few videos queued up that you can't wait to watch (allow yourself to veg a little; it's Monday).  You've already arranged for dinner -- it's in the crock pot, so all you need is a bag of mixed greens and some salad dressing -- so there's no dinner to prepare.  Unsure how to reward yourself?  I'm always in favor of having a 25 Little Luxuries List handy, so you can always quickly choose a treat for yourself . . .

Steps to make this happen:
Before the weekend (total time is about 3 hours, and most of this research is reusable):
  • Come up with some yummy, quick recipes for lunches and Monday night dinner. Try epicurious.com or just search "quick lunches for work" and "crock pot meals" on Pinterest for lots of fun ideas. (Don't own a crock pot? You can buy one for less than $30.) 
  • Shop before the weekend (when the grocery is less-crowded) or have your groceries delivered
  • Make a playlist of music that inspires you. You can use this list to wake up to a different song every morning, and have some tracks to enjoy as you dance your way to getting ready for work. Everyone needs at least a few favorite songs on her phone! 
On Saturday or Sunday (total time is about 3 hours, and it gives you a much, much more relaxed week):
  • Arrange your outfits for the entire workweek (with all accessories on the hangers). Once you do this the first time, every week it will be easier (and it will make you feel so fresh and ready for anything). 
  • Cook a couple of dishes for weekday lunches, and pack individual portions in the fridge. 
  •  Have your crock pot meal ready to plug in on Monday morning. 
On Sunday night:
  • Shower and wash your hair to streamline preparations on Monday morning.  
  • You've already pre-planned so well that your Sunday night can be very relaxing, so savor the satisfaction of having a wonderful strategy for a painless (and, dare I say, fun) start to your workweek. 
Have your own tips to feel happy about Mondays?  Please share in the comments below!