There’s something I started to notice this season as I was in the midst of “busy season” with weddings every weekend, an all new brand/website/blog launch, traveling, etc. I became increasingly overwhelmed as my workload got heavier and instead of feeling accomplished, I just felt more stress! I couldn’t figure out why! Instead of feeling like I could relax (and reap the benefits of all my hard work!), I just felt like the stakes were higher and like I had to work even harder in this new playing field where the more I did to reach the next level, the more I had to do to stay there. It’s hard to explain! The more that was on my to-do list, the more available I had to be, and somehow, the more behind I constantly felt. I woke up feeling like I’d already “missed the boat” for an early blog post, a perfectly timed Instagram, a quickly answered email, etc. It didn’t used to feel this way… so what was fueling this never ending CYCLE of stress and anxiety?! The answer was in how I was spending the first fifteen minutes of my morning!
A few months ago I decided I was going to start my day with some quiet time when I first woke up. I thought it might help me get started on work quicker and be more productive if I didn’t spend 15 minutes laying in bed scrolling through notifications on my phone after my alarm went off. In a way, I was right! But it wasn’t for the reason I thought it would be. You see, by not picking up my phone first thing when I woke up, I was actually helping my brain start the day in a proactive and not reactive way. And this changed everything!
According to several recent studies, people are much more likely to experience feelings of stress and anxiety if they are constantly checking notifications on their iPhone. When we start the day looking through all the things we “missed out” on over night (or the things we need to get done like, yesterday), we’re already framing our day within that context and not what could be a much less stressful version of our life!! I discovered this for myself accidentally when I decided to start my morning with by Bible rather than my iPhone. (I was feeling a little convicted about the lack of time I was spending with God and figured it might be best to give the Lord my attention first thing in the morning instead of my Instagram followers.) I didn’t realize that there was actually scientific reasoning behind what I was doing. But let me tell you… my days started to look so different!! And the more I got used to NOT starting at my iPhone for 15 minutes after I woke up, the more of a difference I noticed when I went back to my old ways and checked my notifications to start my day.
When I check my iPhone first thing in the morning, I…
- Stress about my to-do list as soon as I wake up
- Constantly feel “behind” all day
- Feel like there’s not enough time for all I have to do
- Experience anxiety about where I should be/what I should be doing
- Am less productive in my work
- Am much more likely to “give up” earlier in the day because of the sense of overwhelm
There are all kinds of reasons why these things might be true, but I’m going to assume that it’s because by diving in to social media/emails/communicating with others as soon as I wake up, I’m training my mind to be in constant “reaction” mode ALL day. Instead, when I spend my first fifteen minutes in the morning with quiet time, a cup of coffee, going for a walk, reading my Bible, etc. I’m setting myself up for a MUCH less stressful day because I’m experiencing life in its simplest, purest form at the very start of my day. A troublesome email seems a lot smaller when I’ve just read the story of how Esther saved an entire race from being murdered, or after I’ve just had breakfast with my husband talking about where we’d like to vacation next. Leaving my iPhone plugged into the wall as I get out of bed has seriously changed my life because when I do so, I…
- Feel like life is much simpler and less stressful
- See my to-do list as easier to manage/not quite so important
- View the rest of my day through the lens of my devotional
- Am much more productive in my work because I start my day feeling encouraged and not defeated
Give it a try. See if you notice a difference when you take the first fifteen minutes of your morning to do something that is actually good for your mind, body, and spirit. Going for a walk, doing yoga or stretching, turning on some music, reading your Bible, having a cup of coffee while looking out the window. It sounds boring, I know, but maybe it isn’t all that boring after all. Maybe we just need to retrain our brains to not crave the constant stimuli of technology, iPhones, social media, and whatever else updates us on everything that’s going on everywhere else but where we are. Let’s stop and smell the roses this week. Take some time for you first thing in the morning and see how it affects the rest of your day. You never know what affect it could have because our days are what make our lives. Don’t waste them!