Do you find yourself telling friends, “I’m not a morning person – at all”. Maybe while chatting, you’ll greet your co-workers in the morning with a playful GIF image like this one:
I totally get it. This could be due to a number of possible contributing factors… your sleep schedule, diet, an addiction you’re working on recovery from, or maybe a physical or mental health condition. For example, if you have a mental health condition like ADHD, your brains default mode of operation has you preferring later nights and a later start to your day:
“The Reticular Activating System (RAS) in the brainstem is responsible for regulating arousal and the sleep/wake cycle. In ADHD brains, the RAS is dysregulated; circadian cycles skew toward higher activity levels in the evening, resulting in later bedtimes and waking times. In fact, many individuals with ADHD celebrate when they finally have time to themselves late at night. This is when they are attracted to internally driven activities, like watching TV, engaging with social media, looking at porn, or playing computer games. With their greater arousal, which is often experienced as a second wind, these brain-pleasing behaviors are reinforcing… Understanding what ADHD brains want makes it clear that the struggle for self-regulation is neurological, and has nothing to do with character deficiencies.”– Dr. Ellen Littman, Ph.D. “Never Enough? Why ADHD Brains Crave Stimulation“
With that in mind, please know that there is always a way to ‘neurohack’ your way to a good morning, on what could have been a bad day. With intentional planning, a routine in place each day, you can give yourself ‘nudges’ towards a better mood, and set yourself up for success. Rather than allowing your brain to follow through on how it feels on its own – based on its default mode of operation (i.e. if you have limitations due to a mental health condition), you can learn how to take back control of the reigns and set the intention of how you want to feel. So if you want to have a better day than how you woke up, here are some ideas based on what I have learned work for me and my Bipolar & ADHD brain:
Drink Water First
“Getting fluids into your body right after your wake up will help your body flush out toxins first thing in the morning. Your brain tissue is 75% water. When you’re not properly hydrated, your brain operates on less fuel, and you can feel drained, or experience fatigue or mood fluctuations.”– Chris Bailey “A Life of Productivity“
Open the Windows
“Sunlight and darkness trigger the release of hormones in your brain. Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. At night, darker lighting triggers the brain to make another hormone called melatonin. This hormone is responsible for helping you sleep. Without enough sun exposure, your serotonin levels can dip.”– Dr. Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D. “What Are the Benefits of Sunlight?“
Turn On the Music
“Research suggests that background music, or music that is played while the listener is primarily focused on another activity, can improve performance on cognitive tasks in older adults. One study found that playing more upbeat music led to improvements in processing speed, while both upbeat and downbeat music led to benefits in memory.– Dr. Daniel B. Block MD “How Listening to Music Can Have Psychological Benefits“
So the next time you are working on a task, consider turning on a little music in the background if you are looking for a boost in your mental performance. Consider choosing instrumental tracks rather than those with complex lyrics, which might end up being more distracting.”
For relaxation and focus, I love to listen to ‘Relax Daily’ on YouTube:
To help motivate myself into a better mood and feel more creative, using what is called ‘Binaural Music’ (also referred to as 8D Audio), I put my headphones on and listen to a playlist like this:
The research on Binaural, Biolateral, Bi-lateral and ‘Brainspotting’ EMDR therapy is very promising and exciting to learn about. I wrote about this type of therapy the other week here: ‘Ever Heard of 8D Music? You’ll Never Listen to Music the Same Again‘.
Take Your Supplements &/or Meds
The modern diet for the majority of the worlds population doesn’t provide everything the body requires on a daily basis. More of us work indoors the majority of the day and miss out on the natural sunlight that gives us a boost in Vitamin D. The pioneer days are long over, where every family was outside working the land to grow their own food. Media advertisers today persuade us to try [addictive] yummy treats and fast foods which contribute to obesity and nutrient deficiencies. We also inherit health vulnerabilities through our parents, passed down to us, and that sometimes requires us to take necessary supplements or medications to help support our brain, and other organs.
Much like an individual told that their pancreas doesn’t produce sufficient insulin, they are required to take medication and monitor their blood sugar and make necessary lifestyle changes to support their body. The same goes for someone told their brain doesn’t produce sufficient serotonin and dopamine— may need to take medication to help support their brain function. They’ll also be encouraged to monitor stress levels and make necessary lifestyle changes to keep hold of mental stability. In short, there is no shame in needing to take medication daily if you have learned that certain areas of your body are not functioning normally. This is all part of building a healthy life that feels safe and satisfying. 🙂
Walk the Dog
Looking for a simple way to help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and maybe even improve your memory? Take a walk in the woods. “Many men [and women] are at higher risk for mood disorders as they age, from dealing with sudden life changes like health issues, the loss of loved ones, and even the new world of retirement,” says Dr. Jason Strauss, director of geriatric psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance. “They may not want to turn to medication or therapy for help, and for many, interacting with nature is one of the best self-improvement tools they can use.”– Harvard Health Medical School
“Taking a walk outside will help the brain produce endorphins, which are neurotransmitters responsible for regulating mood. Both being outside and walking can work together to create positive changes in overall state of mind. The National Academy of Science in the US has proven that walking in nature actually changes your brain.”– Advanced Neurotherapy – “4 Reasons Why Walking Outside Benefits the Brain“
Eat A Healthy Breakfast
“Think about it. Your brain is always “on.” It takes care of your thoughts and movements, your breathing and heartbeat, your senses — it works hard 24/7, even while you’re asleep. This means your brain requires a constant supply of fuel. That “fuel” comes from the foods you eat — and what’s in that fuel makes all the difference. Put simply, what you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and, ultimately, your mood. Like an expensive car, your brain functions best when it gets only premium fuel. Eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress — the “waste” (free radicals) produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells.”– Dr. Eva Selhub MD – “Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food“
“Eating for health and longevity is frustrating and complex for many of my patients. They feel they need a biochemistry degree. The Omni Diet incorporates cutting edge science but it is so easy to follow.”–Joel Kahn, M.D., Director of Preventive Cardiology and Cardiac Rehabilitation, Detroit Medical Center
To be honest, sometimes I get annoyed by planning meals, so I try to strategize to make the meals as simple as possible, especially breakfast. My mornings are already rough in trying to get my brain motivated, so I make a breakfast shake with very intentional ingredients that I know will give my brain the fuel it needs to work on building and managing a healthy body. My favorite drink powders are Juice Plus Complete, and Omni brand by BrainMD.
Write Down 3 Simple Goals for the Day
Back in January of 2020 I had an inspired goal to get prepared (not knowing what the rest of the year would bring) and disciplined on time management. It was then that I felt compelled to organize a morning routine that would help me create a plan for the day. In this routine I write down 3 simple goals. I have learned from many successful gurus – keeping your actions simple results in getting more done over time. If your goal is to work on weight-loss, and you have a long history of having a sedentary lifestyle, you first want to work on building a consistent habit, and then once established reliably, focus on increasing the time each day that you exercise. So in the beginning you’d start with an incredibly easy goal of ‘5 push ups’—that’s it, after two weeks of doing this consistently each day, add in a little more. If you go too big too fast you’ll likely burn out and become uninterested. You want to focus on setting yourself up for WINS so you can feel motivated to do more. I do feel that this morning routine has played a major role in helping me pull through some of the hardest periods of my life, past and present. I do believe that it can help you too.
I recommend reading these books to learn why setting simple goals, and simple tasks will help you be more productive and accomplish more, than trying to tackle large projects and overextending your time:
If you found this article helpful, please share with your friends! 💚 If you are in search of more support in the pursuit of building a healthier and happier life, check out our group on Facebook where we focus on small actions and gentle encouragement.