Wakefulness is defined in the dictionary simply as ‘not sleeping’ whereas others describe it as ‘a state of awareness or mindfulness’ and ‘being fully awake in the present moment’.
I am neither talking about being awake in the physical sense nor being awake in a spiritual sense, I am talking about being awake in the tangible bodily sense…. literally waking well or more specifically waking up refreshed and excited for a new day.
I used to believe only “special” people woke up refreshed and excited, that only super men and women who were born motivated could achieve this goal, but of course, like most things, you can learn to train your mind.
As briefly discussed in the last blog the best way to wake up refreshed is to align yourself with your circadian rhythm – which will be discussed in a later blog – however there are also other simple ways to wake up well that I will highlight below. Some of these are obvious and oft mentioned, other are rarely discussed and have come through a lot of research, reading and study around the wakefulness! So, here are the Top 6 ways to wake up refreshed and motivated:
1. Try to wake up around the same time every day (including weekends) – this is the one we’ve likely all read before, but unfortunately it’s true. Sleeping a little longer on weekends is of course perfectly natural, however try to limit it to only an extra hour or so. It’s better to get up at a similar time even at weekends and then take a short nap later in the day, but try to keep your wake up time pretty similar every day.
2. Wake up the way nature intended!!!
We had been programmed for thousands of years to go to sleep when it got dark and wake up when it gets light…..but modern technology such as electricity and modern “nuisances” (such as having to work for a living!!) mean that we stay up later, get less sleep and usually wake up by modern technology, namely an alarm clock.
There are few things more foreign to our natural humans instincts than being woken up by a jarring alarm clock………even if that alarm clock is playing music we enjoy! We need to wake up by sunlight and other environmental arousals, singing birds for example – much like we did when we were better aligned with nature and our own natural rhythms. (Research actually shows that the closer we wake to sunrise the quicker we become alert and ready for the day!)
So, if you are able to leave a curtain or blind open – without it disturbing your sleep – then you should do so, but if not, I highly recommend buying an alarm that comes with a lamp that mimics a natural morning sunrise, namely one that begins with a low dull light and gradually increases in brightness over thirty minutes or so until at full brightness at the moment you wish to rise.
These alarms are available across all price ranges (from $6.99 for the Wake Up Color Changing Light Alarm Clock from Meritline.com to $165 for the BlueMax™ Sunrise System at fullspectrumsolutions.com – please note I am not affiliated with any of these products or websites)
Alongside natural sunlight clocks, also ensure the sound you wake up to is natural, such as birds tweeting, or waves crashing or even a rooster! There are likewise many alarm clocks that can be purchased with these features, but also some free or inexpensive apps — drop me a note below and I would be happy to recommend my favorite wake up apps.
So, wake up as nature intended………not suddenly and sharply by a jarring alarm clock, but easily and gradually by light and environmental cues!
3. Start your day with 3 things: Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude
My first thoughts every morning were ‘I am so tired’ or ‘I must go to bed earlier this evening’. These thoughts came so natural to me that I thought they couldn’t be changed, but like many things they simply had become a habit, a bad habit. Instead start your day with Gratitude.
It came as no surprise to me to learn during my research that in the Jewish religion people are encouraged to ‘give thanks’ upon awakening, immediately even before leaving the bed. Now, most Jewish people I know are not aware of this, but none the less it is a useful lesson to us all, whether or not we believe in G-d or in religion. That blessing is : “I offer thanks before you, living and eternal King, for you have mercifully restored my soul within me, Your faithfulness is great.”
I do not recommend your using this verbatim, unless you choose to, but simply make your first thought one of appreciation and gratitude for being Awake, for being given another chance at another day. Note: this is not a prayer, you’re are not praying or asking for anything, simply saying thank you and expressing gratitude. It is far better to wake up with gratitude than any other emotion.
After this initial thought, then reach for a Gratitude Journal and write down the 3 things that you were most grateful for that occurred to you the previous day. This could be as simple as a good commute to work, an uninterrupted night sleep, a fabulous movie you watched, having a home, your spouse, your family, whatever you choose…….simply write down 3 things from the previous day you are grateful for.
Fourthly recite any Affirmation you choose. It could be something personal to you “I’m going to have a great day” or it could be the recommended daily affirmation from a book, or affirmation cards or even an app such as “Daily Affirmations”.
Next, write down 2 things you’d like to achieve by lunch time – these may be work related, but they do not have to be. It could be getting the kids to school on time, or eating a healthy breakfast, or completing the annoying presentation, or at least starting it!! Write down these 2 things,
This entire process from expressing gratitude to completing your affirmations will probably take about 5 minutes and is proven far more effective than pressing the snooze button!!!
I will be covering Visualizations more in a future blog – as they deserve their own Blog! But for now, after your Affirmations simply spend a few more minutes Visualizing. This can be as micro as writing a wonderful presentation, to as macro as securing your dream job or driving your dream car, but for now simply spend two additional minutes visualizing.
Then drink the glass of water with lemon juice that you put next to your bed the night before — (did I mention to put a glass of water with lemon by your bed the night before!!) – and then head to the bathroom.
Finally, once out of your bed begin your day Mindfully.
Mindfulness is an attentive awareness of the present moment, namely an awareness of your senses and one’s body, feelings and mind. Rather than being on auto-pilot simply spend some minutes aware and mindful. (This will also be covered in great detail in a later blog)
Brush your teeth mindfully.
Here’s a quick tip…..brush your teeth with your wrong hand (ie left hand if your right handed) and while standing on one leg. It sounds crazy, but the benefits are multiple, firstly you will become more aware of brushing your teeth, next you will be exercising a part of your brain you don’t usually exercise, since using your wrong hand requires additional thought and finally standing on one leg strengthens your core, and I don’t necessary mean in a yoga and chakra way, but simply strengthens your stomach muscles and will help you get a flatter belly!
Next, shower mindfully. It is truly amazing the difference to your shower when you shower mindfully. If you take one thing from this blog that you can do tomorrow without any real additional effort it is to shower mindfully. So, I challenge you to shower Mindfully and let me know the results!!! Firstly, I bet you all forget to do so, I bet the normal random chatter in your minds take over and you leave the shower and realize you’d forgotten to be mindful, but if you do remember then let me know how it feels…….let me know if after you silence the usual chatter in your mind and instead focus on being mindful in your shower whether your shower feels any different???
So, in conclusion, if you want to wake up well then follow these 6 simple rules: awaken consistently, wake up the way nature intended!!!, start your day with Gratitude, Gratitude and more Gratitude, then recite an Affirmation, visualize and be Mindful. If you do these things you will feel the benefit after day 1, so keep with it and after 30 days it will change your life!!!