Good Beginnings: One Thing Today

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In March we launched a call for action on our social media called One Thing Today. We guided you day by day, with one thing you can do each day, to increase your emotional wellbeing. We organized this by three phases: Beginnings, midpoints, and endings which you can apply to days, weeks, months, years, or even across any time lines such as work projects. Here’s a summary on how to treat your beginnings in life.

Good beginnings matter.

Without beginnings there is no progress made, no growth and development and no goals are reached. Good beginnings set you on the right track. In order to have a good beginning all you need to do is start with one thing that takes you in the right direction.

You are in charge of your emotional health and we at Aurelia Psychology are here to help guide you in taking small, healthy and wise actions every day. We will give you the scientific or sometimes philosophical reasons behind every action. It is easier to make healthy choices and small changes when you understand the reasoning behind them. 

These are our suggestions on what your One Thing Today can be.

1. Begin your day with a positive attitude.

Set the tone of the day by starting your day off as positively as possible. For those with small children this is a huge ask! Take turns with your partner of who will do what in the morning so that it’s not all on one person. Prepare as much as possible the night before so that you only take care of absolute necessities , e.g., showering, brushing teeth, putting clothes on in the morning. 

People who tend to think more positively have better immune functions and are more productive. If you’re used to waking up and dreading the day, we have an experiment for you: Practice acting as if you have a positive attitude. Think of someone you admire who is positive. Think: How do they move? How do they think? How do they talk? Then act in that way for a whole morning and see how you feel that day. Do you notice a difference?  

2. Set a goal.

Take a moment either during breakfast, or while driving to work or even while brushing your hair, and ask yourself what is one thing you want to accomplish in your day. It could be a small but meaningful goal like getting through a difficult morning meeting and keeping calm during the meeting. Or it could be a bigger goal like finishing a 5K run you committed to. 

Good goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (SMART goals). 

For example, the above 5K goal is only realistic and achievable if you have been running. If this is your first day of running ever in your life, then you may be setting yourself up for failure. So set goals that you can actually achieve. 

3. Start your morning right.

Starting your morning “right” could mean so many different things. It completely depends on you what “right” means to you. For a working mother for example, simply making it through the school drop off on time and showing up to work on time could be “right.” To someone else, getting up at 5 am and exercising and eating a wholesome breakfast is “right.” Know what your version of “right” is to you and set yourself up to do that. 

4. Do not push the snooze button.

You want to start your morning on the right track the moment your alarm goes off. It is a mistake to push the snooze button and continue sleeping for a few minutes longer. First, you will not get good sleep because of the awareness that your alarm will go off again soon. You will probably be lying in bed dreading that alarm. That is not very restful at all. Second, you know what the consequences of delaying getting up are. You will be rushed until you get out the door.

Give yourself the gift of a peaceful morning and get up when your alarm goes off. No one we know has ever regretted getting up when their alarm went off. Most people regret not getting up on time.

5. Create healthy morning rituals.

Adopt and nurture healthy habits to start your day. Rituals are a great way to instill long-lasting habits. Rituals can help with achieving a desired outcome (even if you don’t believe in rituals). 

Create your own unique ritual. For example, drink a glass of water first thing in the morning to rehydrate your body. Have your glass of water outside while soaking in sunlight to help you wake up. Take a few deep breaths.

A word about coffee: Wait at least an hour after waking up before you have your first cup of coffee. Allow your body to start producing cortisol first and only then have your morning coffee. Caffeine interferes with your body’s cortisol production, hence it is a good idea to delay that first cup of coffee.

Which morning ritual can make your day start off healthy? 

6. Prepare for your day.

Prepare for your day in the way that works for you. For example, if you are a night owl, prepare for your day the night before. If you like to wake up early then prepare in the morning. As much as possible try to remove any small decisions from the start of your day e.g., What should I wear? Do I need gas? What podcast or music will I listen to while driving? What should I have for breakfast, lunch, or dinner? These may be decisions that take less than a minute each but when added up can start to consume too much energy especially on a busy day.

When your decisions are planned in advance, they can actually give you energy and add pleasure to your day. For example, feeling confident about what you’re wearing or feeling good about your food and getting a nice meal to nourish you, not having to worry about enough fuel in your car or having something fun to listen to on your commute, these little things can all add to the quality of your day.  Preparation can lead to a productive but also pleasurable day. 

If all planning fails, at a minimum give yourself 10 minutes before leaving the house or before starting work to think about your day and your week as a whole. Do you have everything you need for your day? Have a look at your diary as a reminder. You don’t want to be half way through a morning meeting and realize you forgot about a doctor’s appointment that’s in 30 minutes. Planning ahead puts you in control of your day.

7. Say goodbye to your loved ones when you part for the day.

Rituals of connection are important in romantic relationships and family life. Formal ceremonies such as weddings and funerals bring family and friends together to celebrate or grieve. Informal but thoughtful rituals of connection are just as important for creating feelings of warmth and safety that can be carried through the rest of the day. These rituals happen daily and weekly. 

Examples of informal rituals of connection are, saying good morning to family members and kissing them goodnight. These rituals bring calm when things get stressful, energy when fatigue is setting in and maintain daily connection during busy times. Rituals of connection also remind us that the love in the relationship and family is more important than the little squabbles of everyday life.

A loving kiss or hug and a happy goodbye sets off the day right. Everyone can go about their day feeling safe that they have a loving home to return to. 

8. Check in with yourself before starting a task.

Before entering a meeting, do a 2 minute check in. Close your screen, or find a quiet calm moment to tune into yourself. Looking down and toward your abdomen helps get into a contemplative stance. Just take a note of how you are feeling right then and there. Get yourself ready by grounding yourself. Grounding helps you feel strong and confident in withstanding any challenges you are up against. Notice your feet on the floor and press hard against the floor like a strong tall tree with deep roots in the ground. This is not the time to problem-solve or think of any new problems. This is simply a check in. 

9. Set the intention for your day.

You can live this day only once. You have been given this day as a gift. How do you intend to use it? Set an intention for your day to help you remain focused and use your time wisely.

It is easy to get bogged down with the nitty gritty of everyday life. Create moments where you intentionally rise above the mundane and make a point to remain focused on it. If you set an intention that is bigger than you, reflects your core values, beliefs or needs, you can grow and flourish. Setting an intention is not about setting an agenda or goals. An intention is a larger theme, value, a feel for your day that you want to establish. 

What intention do you want to set for today? Do you want to remind yourself to appreciate the beauty that surrounds you, the importance of living healthy or to remain calm and tame your temper? 

You can find our suggestions for good beginnings on our Youtube channel as well.

Matleena Vanhanen is a licensed Counselling Psychologist with over 20 years of experience working in Europe and the Middle East. She has a practice of couples and individual therapy at the MapleTree Center in Dubai.

Dr. Ava Ghasemi (Holdich) is a licensed Psychologist with 11 years experience in the U.S., Canada and the Middle East. She has a practice of individual and couples therapy at the MapleTree Center in Dubai.

Articles on www.aureliapsychology.com may feature the advice of a licensed expert or other non-clinicians and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment from a trained professional. In an emergency, please seek help from your local medical or law enforcement services.


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