You know that awesome feeling when you wake up well-rested, energized, and ready to tackle the day? It’s pretty great. So it’s worth putting a little effort in the night before to make your mornings better.
It’s hard to wake up refreshed if you haven't gotten enough sleep, so make that something you aim for as often as possible. (Try this really simple breathing technique to help you fall asleep.) Here are 3 things you can do before bed to wake up happier:
1. Take a minute for gratitude practice. Studies show that gratitude helps you feel more optimistic and reduces stress and anxiety. Taking a few minutes to write down what you’re grateful for before going to bed focuses your brain on positive thoughts and makes it harder for it to get stuck in the long-list-of-things-that-stress-me-out cycle.
Essentially what you’re doing with your gratitude practice is choosing what thoughts you want to be thinking. This is a really powerful idea and I read something recently that inspired me to think about it more. It’s a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat Pray, Love, in which she says that if you want to improve your life, you should choose your thoughts every day, like you choose your clothes. So true. When you practice gratitude, when you notice and appreciate the small good things and experiences and people that were part of your day, you’re choosing to focus on them and make it harder for your brain to think about negative things.
2. Write down anything you need to remember. I keep a small notepad in my nightstand and before I go to bed, if there's something swirling in my mind, I try to write it down. It might be a reminder to order new sneakers for my daughter or call my mom in the morning -- anything that can be moved from my mind to a piece of paper. When you write down your to-dos or reminders, you give your brain permission to stop thinking about them since now they're somewhere and won’t be forgotten.
3. Do something nurturing for yourself. Light a candle you love, take a warm shower, drink your favorite tea (watch out for caffeine), read a bit from a book you enjoy, write in your journal, do some yoga stretches, anything that makes you feel really really good. It doesn’t have to be complicated or take a lot of time -- just make it something that nourishes you. (Notice that watching your favorite show is not on this list: screen time before bed hurts the quality of your sleep, so put your phone or tablet away at least a half-hour before you end the day.)
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