Upgrade Your Morning Routine in Under 10 Minutes

The American Conference on Physician Health revealed some remarkable research, which highlighted the importance of one simple tool in preventing burnout amongst health care providers and physicians. The remarkable thing was this experiment lasted 14 days, yet the results held for beyond a year. You may be wondering what kind of magical unicorn were they given? 

The task was called “three good things” and it revolved around strengthening a person’s ability to perceive and savor positive emotions. The hallmarks of burnout are: physical exhaustion, depersonalization and diminished sense of personal efficacy. Yet when this intervention was implemented, they seemed to be able to harness their ability and perceive situations positively.

YOUR PERCEPTION OF A SITUATION IS DIRECTLY INFLUENCED BY HOW YOU FEEL IN THAT MOMENT.

This relates to what we were discussing previously wherein, your focus determines your reality. Your perceptions are influenced by how you feel. Therefore, when we are feeling overwhelmed, exhausted or stressed, we forget to acknowledge that this state of being determines what we notice and what we do not notice about the world around us. 

For instance, when you show highly stressed individual’s photos that are positive, neutral and negative, they will recall in stunning detail the negative images and have little information on the positive or neutral. Evolutionarily speaking, this is a great survival tool, but it’s awful for individual wellbeing or happiness. 

To combat the inability to experience positive emotions, Dr. Sexton of Duke University formulated the Three Good Things program. The task was to note three positive things every night that happened throughout the day, and label them with one or more of the following emotions – joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, amusement, inspiration, awe or love. They can be as significant or insignificant as you like.

This may sound too simplistic to make an impact but what was found is that flexing our muscle towards “good”, enhanced our ability to continuously notice “good”. This simple experiment, in only 14 days, reduced burnout rates by 20 percent, and 48% of those held their results at a 1-year check in. The physicians also reported fewer conflicts, shortened delays and a better work-life balance. 

Let’s just mention that again because it is so critically important that I want you to remember THIS, if you could only take one thing away from this reset.

YOUR FOCUS DETERMINES YOUR REALITY.

This is in many respects the core of how I understand neurology, hormonal health and our

physical experience. We have full control over our thought patterns, belief systems and

essentially our hormones. 

That is why you can begin implementing a 6-9 minute morning routine that will set you up

beautifully to create the reality you have been hoping for. This routine will have three

components to it.

  • A breathing exercise

  • A gratitude practice

  • Goal setting practice

It’s not always about fixing something that is broken but more about starting over and

creating something better. Let’s begin each morning with an open heart and calm mind. 

As soon as you wake up in the morning (if you are normally woken up by little ones,

just set your alarm a bit earlier for the reset), I want you to take 6-9 minutes for yourself.

Solely yourself. If you are not too sleepy, you can sit up in bed, but if you find you need to get

up and moving first, find a comfortable chair (but not too comfortable!).

Take a few deep breaths and begin.

THIS SHIT WORKS.

First 2-3 minutes

Deep breathing exercise

The first couple minutes will be spent simply breathing deeply. We want to ensure that we are

inhaling (filling our belly), holding for a couple seconds and slowly exhaling. We will continue this

pattern for a couple minutes. Do not worry about thoughts creeping in or the clock specifically.

Just breathe.

This sounds quite simple, but in the beginning, it can be a challenge. Whenever you are feeling

frustrated with the practice, just take a second and focus on your breathing for a few more

breaths.

Next 3-6 minutes

Gratitude

The next few minutes will be spent recognizing 2-3 things in your life or your day that you have boundless gratitude for. They can be as simple as your morning coffee, the sleep you just had, or as significant as the experience of being a mom, friend, grandma, wife, partner. You can choose whatever you like each day, be it small or significant.

During this process we do not want to merely take a few seconds to think – wow I am so happy to have my children – we want to really sink in and relish a sense of pure gratitude. It is one thing to state you are thankful, and it is entirely another to truly feel it.

We want to take a moment out of our day to really recognize what we have and how beautifully life has unfolded for us thus far. Yes, there have been some bumps, bruises, stressors and losses, but let’s focus on the many things in this life that make it all worth it.

Remaining 6-9 minutes

Goal Setting

The remaining few minutes will focus on your goals and how you would like to create your reality.

Select 2-3 goals that you would like to achieve today and one large future vision that you are working towards. Do not frame them in a future context; feel them as if they have already been accomplished.

Experience the emotions associated and the satisfaction attached. This practice of visualization harnesses our focus and enhances not only our productivity but also potential.

Many of us go through the day, doing a tremendous amount but feeling unfulfilled. We have quite literally “accomplished a lot”, but we are so focused on what hasn’t been done or what is left to do that we blunt our sense of satisfaction with what we have achieved. Setting intentions for the day allow you to narrow in on what you expect of yourself while also providing a framework for feeling content with the day’s work.

Once this is complete, I like to finish off the practice by sending love. Send love to yourself, your family, friends and even those you have conflict with. The act of sending love is not only for others it is for you. It is to bring peace in your heart and to begin your day with a clear mind.

Mallory Ryan