Neuroscience Reveals How to Beat Morning Dread With Just 7 Words

Author Article

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You know the feeling. The alarm goes off and before you’ve found the button, your brain is already in the shower, fretting over the day ahead. So much work to do. How will you get it all done? Will you do OK in that big presentation? So many meetings you aren’t looking forward to. You want to pick up your daughter after school but secretly know you hardly have the time to do so.

Dread kicks in. What’s wrong with my life?

This is the scenario neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett paints in an interesting TED talk she gave in December 2017 and in her book How Emotions Are Made.

The good news is that you don’t have to be held hostage by this spiraling A.M. anxiety. Barrett’s research points to a surprising finding about our emotions: they’re linked to physical sensations your body is feeling. That’s right, your brain reacts to physical sensations you’re feeling in the form of emotions.

In other words, you might be feeling that sense of dread as soon as you wake up because you simply didn’t sleep well, because you’re hungry, or because you feel dehydrated.

As Barrett explains:

“Your brain is searching to find an explanation for those sensations in your body that you experience as wretchedness. But those sensations might not be an indication that anything is wrong with your life.”

So before you go off the deep end with your morning mental swim, Barrett says ask yourself one question about what you’re feeling, just seven words:

“Could this have a purely physical cause?”

I tried this and found that quite often the answer is, yes. For me, I often wake up parched and, like most of us, have nights where I just didn’t sleep well. I paid attention to this and noticed whenever I felt that sense of dread, it went away as I woke up, drank water, and had breakfast.

But I’d like to add another seven-word question to the mix that you can use when you’re feeling that morning dread; in case your emotions aren’t just based on a physical sensation you’re experiencing in the moment.

“Could this be a signal for change?”

Some have called it Sunday Night Dread–that pit in your stomach you feel as you wind down on Sunday night and think about the day ahead tomorrow. A general unease and unhappiness nags at you. That’s the front line. Ground zero is when you wake up in the morning and the dread is instant and intensified as you face the immediate prospects of the day ahead.

Experiencing this over and over may be a sign that it’s time to make a change and engage in a different line of work or make dramatic changes at the job you’re in.

I experienced this towards the end of my corporate days. I ignored the feeling at first, and then for too long, frankly. Eventually, I let it trigger deep introspection, which ultimately led me to leave corporate behind and embark on my current entrepreneurial journey. I’m so glad I didn’t ignore the signals my morning routine was sending me.

So don’t accept that feeling of morning dread as “just the way it is”. Use Barrett’s question to discern if there’s an underlying physical cause based on what you’re feeling that morning. Use my question so that you’re not just brushing off that dread as you’re brushing your hair. Instead, look in the mirror and get honest with yourself.

The 10 Morning Rituals Of Successful Entrepreneurs

Forbes Article

What morning habits hyper-successful entrepreneurs use to set themselves up for productive days?

How you start your day can have an incredible impact on how the rest of it goes. How much energy you have, how efficient and productive you are, if you achieve the right things, and how much you enjoy the journey. There are millions of others out there trying to beat you. There are only so many days to make progress. So, while many workers see morning routines as a luxury, top performers are very mindful of what they do.

I have the pleasure of interviewing some of the most successful entrepreneurs on the DealMakers Podcast where they share how they did it. Routines are always a big component. With that been said, here are just some of the morning rituals of successful entrepreneurs that you may like to try.

1) Review Goals & To-Do Lists

Get in the game and get focused on what you want to accomplish for the day. If you don’t there are plenty of other people in line waiting to take up your time and have you working to their priorities. Take control. Be honing in on your top VIP items and what you want to be doing. Gary Keller uses a one thing to-do list to make sure there are no other distractions.

2) Read

Leaders read. Period. YouTube is great, audio books and podcasts can be hyper valuable and offer efficiency, but real reading carries many benefits, aside from just inputting more noise and knowledge. Mark Cuban and Warren Buffett are famous for reading for hours a day. Elon Musk and Bill Gates are heavy readers too. It is one of the top traits of the world’s most successful.

3) Exercise

Exercise is one of the most common elements in the morning routines of successful entrepreneurs. Many hit the gym, ride bikes, run or walk. Navy SEAL and author of Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink likes to hit the weights hard before running. Though the new peloton craze could be for you if you live in the cold weather like NYC.

4) Cold & Hot Therapy

Tony Robbins is famous for using cold therapy to wake up. If it’s not a cryo chamber, it’s a dipping pool at his Florida estate. In his new book Passion For Real Estate Investing, fund manager Fuquan Bilal swears by Korean heat therapy for boosting thinking and productivity.

5) Meditation

Practicing mindfulness, breathing exercises, meditation and even morning journaling are common practices among high achievers. This includes both Arianna Huffington and Oprah. Some may find this a little slow paced for their lifestyles. Others swear by it for staying focused.

6) Yoga

Entrepreneurs who are known for practicing yoga include Russell Simmons, Sergey Brin (Google), Justin Rosenstein and multi-billion dollar selling real estate entrepreneur Kaya Wittenburg. If you are looking for something a little more fast paced try power yoga or Day Breaker’s morning dance and yoga parties.

7) Sports

If lifting weights isn’t your thing, why not dive into your favorite sport in the morning. Tim Draper says he begins his day with basketball. Richard Branson says he enjoys tennis, kite surfing or swimming around his private island. This can be a great way to ensure your passion for a sport isn’t left in the dust as you pursue your startup and grow a business. It’s one thing you shouldn’t sacrifice.

8) Check in Online

Other entrepreneurs just thrive on jumping right into it. It seems to work quite well for them. Entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk hit the bathroom with their phones as they leap out of bed to check news, respond to social media messages, or even keep in the routine of making time to call family members. This seems counterproductive advice compared to most of what is suggested in books and blogs today, but if that’s what you live for, don’t deny yourself.

9) Make the Bed

Just like the military, Tim Ferris of the Four Hour Work Week has said making the bed is a priority in the morning. You may not really care about what the bed looks like, nor feel you need it to be made before you knock out again at night. Yet, there may be benefits in the routine and preparing your mind. If you are working from home or are sleeping in your office, the cleanliness and organization might be better for your focus too.

The great thing about this morning ritual is that you’ve always at least accomplished something each day. Even if that is followed by spilling coffee on your new shirt, getting stuck in traffic, forgetting to let the dog out, and missing an important investor meeting At least you accomplished something today.

10) Have Breakfast with People You Love

If you are a real hustler it can be hard to slow down enough to make breakfast with your family. Well, it can be even harder to make it home for dinner on time or make all the quality time you promise. At least you can be consistent with breakfast. You can also start out their day on a positive note, and ensure you are still getting the most important things done.

Summary

Morning routines appear to be a clear differentiator in top performers and the rest. Invest time in them. These clues from other successful leaders appear to make a big difference in how high you can go. However, Tai Lopez also points out the importance of finding the right combination of morning rituals for you and your personality.

You don’t have to get up at 4 am, bench press, or be a Facebook user to be successful. It’s more important that you morning system works for you. Experiment and find a good process. Though don’t be shy about disrupting it every now and again to try something new.

Alejandro Cremades is a serial entrepreneur and author of best-seller The Art of Startup Fundraising, a book that offers a step-by-step guide to today‘s way of raising money for entrepreneurs.

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