2 Minutes to a Better Day
Be happier, feel energized and find your focus with this easy 4-step plan
(This article appeared previously on Grandparents.com.)
Waking up on "the wrong side of the bed" doesn't have to dictate your day. A calm and happy morning is within easy reach — all you need is two minutes, your attention and a little space to breathe, says Gabby Bernstein, a motivational speaker, New York Times bestselling author, and frequent expert on The Dr. Oz Show.
"Start your day with a good attitude and let your positive energy guide you," she says. Read on for Bernstein's four-step, two-minute path to feeling energized, supported and carefree all day long:
1. Do the 1-Minute Breath
Time commitment: 60 seconds
The action: Spend one minute practicing a special breathing meditation Bernstein calls "The 1-Minute Breath:" Inhale for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds and then exhale for five seconds, repeating the pattern for 60 seconds total. "One minute a day spent in stillness can change your life," says Bernstein. "Use this practice to silence your mind and harness your energy."
The proof: Also known as "mindful breathing," the practice of noticing your breathing pattern and consciously slowing and steadying it, has been shown to boost your immune system; reduce inflammation; lower blood pressure, stress, and depression; improve attention span; increase empathy and compassion for yourself and others and more. What's more, research shows that long-term beneficial effects can be seen after just two months of regular practice.
2. Bless Your Friends... And Your Enemies
Time commitment: 30 seconds
The action: Silently bless the people in your life — especially the people who make you feel stressed and resentful. Instead of starting your day with anger and negativity, pray for them to be happy and to have all the good things that you want for yourself. "I know this may sound difficult — but it’s totally worth it," says Bernstein. "The instant you bless another person, you clear space to receive more love and positivity."
The proof: A 2008 study published in the Journal of Personal Social Psychology found that people who set aside time to think warm and tender feelings about themselves and others in their social network felt increasingly positive on a daily basis, which in turn strengthened their "personal resources," including mindfulness, purpose in life, social support and decreased illness symptoms. The kicker: Increased personal resources predicted greater overall life satisfaction and less depression.
3. Say No to Screens
Time commitment: 0 seconds
The action: Refrain from email, news, texts and social media for the first hour of your day. If you check your phone the moment you wake up, scanning for the latest updates and emails, you're pre-loading each new day with stress, says Bernstein. "Though this habit seems natural, it can create a lot of anxiety and tension," she says. "Begin the day with clarity and peace, and use the morning to prepare energetically for the day instead of overloading on media."
The proof: Mental health experts agree with Bernstein. “When you check your phone first thing in the morning, you run the risk of stimulating your mind into criticism and judgment," says Joanna Kleinman, a psychologist in Cherry Hill, N.J., referring to the emails and voicemails that beg your response and Facebook updates that compel you to compare your life to other's. Allowing entry to your inner critic can set off a cascade of stress hormones and elevated blood pressure — a poor foundation for a healthy day.
4. Create a Best-Case Scenario for Your Day
Time commitment: 30 seconds
The action: Take a moment to set a positive intention and meaning, and think about what you’d like to have happen throughout the day. Say it out loud, write it in a journal or affirm it while looking in the mirror. "Your intentions create your reality, and what you focus on first thing in the morning can have a powerful impact on your whole day," says Bernstein. "I love this practice because it sets me up to win!"
The proof: Born out of Buddhist thought, positive intentions can be thought of as the antidote to negative self-talk, a habit which can keep you from realizing the things you really want in life. If you always tell yourself, "I'm a worrier," you program yourself to fulfill that prophesy. When you set a positive intention, such as "I focus on the big picture" or even "I'm getting better at focusing on the big picture," you leave the door open to improvement and are more likely to work toward it.