“Good” Morning

I recently moved to New York City, and now instead of the bus, I ride the subway to get to work. I’ve written before about the start to your day, but as my commuting habits have changed, I experience and witness new behaviors and interactions, all that make me think quite a bit.

Typically the subways are very crowded in the morning. Crowded like, you’re literally shoulder to shoulder with others, crammed into a tight subway car at 8:30 in the morning. This isn’t the most comfortable way to start the day by any means.

That being said, it amazes me that so many people get so incredibly angry and frustrated, when the day has just begun.

Yes, there’s not much room for personal space or breathing room, but this is something that almost all 8 million people in NYC experience. Each individual commute is no different than the millions that are happening at the same time as you.

So when someone gets bumped into, or someone shoves their way onto the subway to cram themselves in, it can create a lot of tension, frustration, and even yelling. Presumably not long after we’ve all just woken up.

Now I’m not saying that these people should push their way into the subway car, or keep their backpacks and purses on while on the train, but confrontation, arguments, and self-mutterings only add to the stresses and frustrations of the daily commute.

It’s important to remember that the way to make change is by doing it with a smile. 

Not many people are morning people, but your own lack of sleep, personal dealings, and moods shouldn’t be pressed onto others if they aren’t acting in accordance to your will.

We’re all living together in a very crowded city, anger and argument will only lead to an even more frustrated, anxiety filled commute. 

So even if everything is going well in your commute, take your headphones off once in a while and get out of your own little world. Smile and chuckle to the person next to you as you both cram closer and closer together as more people fill the subway car.

Half of the reason why we continue hate our commute is because we ourselves take no action to make it better.

And if no one else is going to do it, you should.

Recognize that everyone on that subway, train, bus ride or walk is in the same position as you. You’re no different than the person who’s jammed up against you. So meet them with a smile instead of an eye-roll and sigh. Say hello instead of turning your music up louder.

Because while the city is so dense and crowded, disgruntled morning commutes could not bring people any farther apart and into their own world.

Start the day off with a smile to a stranger, and you just might set the tone for the whole rest of your day for each of you. 

How does your day start?

Do you ever commute to work and once you get there realize that you have been putting on a mean, frowning face your whole way there?

Do you ever commute to work and once you get there realize that you haven’t said a single word to anyone yet even after you walk to your desk and sit down to start your day?

There’s a lot of power in the phrase “start of your day”. Many people think that the start of your day begins when you start work in the morning, or when you get to the subway, or when you eat breakfast. But the start of your day begins the second you open your eyes in the morning.

And it’s how we act from that exact moment that can dictate your mood and behavior throughout the whole rest of the day.

I was commuting to work with a good friend of mine this morning and found myself laughing and smiling almost the whole way there. When I looked around, hardly anyone was doing the same, and I immediately pointed out that I was getting upset thinking about the people who don’t get to laugh in the morning. Now they may once they get into work, or they may not. But smiling and laughing from the moment your day starts – when you open your eyes – helps put me in a great mood even before 9am hits.

You may not have someone to commute with in the morning, and you may really enjoy a peaceful and personal start to your day and that is totally fine. But if you answered yes to either or both of the questions above, you may be craving that morning conversation and laughter that you’re not getting. 

So what do you do if you don’t commute with someone?
Call or text someone else who is on a similar schedule as you! Or, my personal favorite, start a conversation with a stranger. You never know who you might meet, the joy a new face can bring, and the quick and meaningful conversation that can bring happiness to someone else’s day because of it. Don’t you want to be the person someone refers to when they say: “Wow! That person was really nice!”

So make the start of your day meaningful from the second you open your eyes. Smile and laugh as early in the morning as you possibly can. It just may make you a healthier, stronger, and happier person because of it. 


Morning Routine for Greater Energy

Nothing gives you more energy in the morning like a great night’s sleep.

But if you didn’t get one, and even if you did but still want a little boost, here’s a great morning routine that I follow almost every day before I even have a coffee, that allows me to wake up quicker, feel more energized, and carry positivity with me throughout the day.

1. Take a cool shower

The first thing I do every morning is take a shower. I feel groggy all day if I don’t shower when I get out of bed. So that’s the first step.

But what gives you an energy boost is either taking a completely cold shower, or, do what I do, and take a warm shower but riiiight before you’re about to get out, slowly turn the knob cooler and cooler so your body has a little time to adjust, and then see how far you can go!

This not only jolts your body to wake up, but it helps you get out of the shower faster because you won’t be in warm and steamy water that you want to stand in all day.

2. Listen to music

I’ve already written about the power of music, but applied to your morning routine, listening to music, preferably some happy, upbeat tunes, really helps energize your body and mind and can set the tone for the day. Singing along, maybe dancing around a little while you get changed, are all things that can help wake you up and bring some joy and fun to your morning routine.

Nothing like a good endorphin release from a good song first thing in the AM.

3. Drink a glass of room temperature water

The next thing I do to give me added energy is to drink a full glass of room temperature water. Every night as a part of my nightly routine, I set out a glass of water so it’s ready for the morning.

Doing this boosts your metabolism and kick starts your body into action. It also gives you the much needed water your body is craving after not drinking anything in 8 hours. Hydrating first thing in the morning gets you an easy glass of water out of the way, and gets that digestive system moving for better daily internal health.

If there is the one takeaway you get from this post, make it this one. I swear by this and recommend everyone to try this step every day for a week and see how you feel!

4. Stretch

The next thing that I do (and admittedly don’t always get to) is a very short energetic stretch routine that allows my body to loosen up and give me a little boost before preparing to sit down for most of the rest of the day. Remember when doing these stretches – breathe deeply! Repeat this sequence for as many times as you please.

  • Yawn stretch – just like the way it sounds. Stand up tall, bring both arms over your head and then slowly lower them as wide as you can, giving a great stretch across your chest and through your back.
  • Forward fold – As you bring your arms down from the yawn, slightly bend your knees and continue bringing your arms down to reach toward your toes. Stay there for a little while slowly swaying back and forth, getting comfortable feeling your hamstrings elongate and your lower back stretch and tension in your lumbar spine release.
  • Downward dog – From the previous position, bend your knees generously to bring your palms to the ground. Step your feet back so you’re in a plank position with your arms in line with your shoulders. Then press and lift your hips up to form an upside-down “V”. Try reaching your heels as far down to touch the ground as you can.
  • Cat/Cow – Next, lower your hips and get onto your hands and knees with your back forming a flat table. Then, slowly press into the ground lowering your head and sending your back up high to create a “scared cat” looking pose. Then, send your back down, bring your chest toward the ground and lift your head out high so that your spine creates a “U” shape while continuing to press into the ground. Do this a few times.
  • Downward dog – Same as above!
  • Cobra – Finally, lay down completely with your arms close to your chest and your palms flat on the ground, then press up slightly so that your chest is elevated but your hips are still on the ground. Lift your head up high and breathe.

5. Smile all the way down the stairs

Here’s something that most people probably don’t do, but it’s such an important tip that can not only give you more energy in the morning, but create a positive mood to carry out the entire day.

Every morning when I walk down the stairs to head out the door, I make sure that I force myself to smile as big as I can and give myself a mental pep talk including things like “Today is going to be a great day and you’re going to kill it”. Oftentimes when we walk down the stairs (or go down the elevator) to leave our apartment building or house, we do the opposite of this. It’s often a time of brief dread and thoughts of “I don’t want to go to work” or other similar lines.

Walking down the stairs also can literally feel like we’re walking down in mood, into another world that’s filled with stress and work, and down from the comfort of home (i.e. your bed). So forcing a smile and positive words as you walk down the stairs flips this completely on its head and sets the pace for the day, energetically and with your mood.

6. Energetic breathing on your commute

The final thing to do to bring in as much energy as you can for your day is to practice energetic breathing. Overtime, our bodies start to breathe shallower instead of deep, full, meaningful breaths that we are meant to take.

So on your commute to work every morning, I challenge you to take very deep breaths expanding your rib cage and all the way into your diaphragm and belly. Sit or stand with good posture and focus on your breath and turn it into a meditation. You can do this while listening to music, reading a book, or looking out of the window of the bus.

This helps your nervous system to remember to take fuller and more energetic breaths and give life to your body through deep breathing. And this doesn’t have to stop after your commute. As you begin to practice more and more (because you will likely get a little light headed after doing this for a few minutes and need to take a break) you will find that you will naturally start to breathe deeply and more energetically.

If you give this routine a try, I promise you that you’ll feel more energized before you’ve even had your coffee. Practicing this every day will help create a routine centered around an energetic and positive start to your day and promote strength, health, and happiness each and every morning.