Quick and easy morning meditations (for the time poor)

According to research by CIPD on the working lives of people in the UK, 55% of people felt under excessive pressure, exhausted or regularly miserable. Worse still, a work-life balance is becoming more and more difficult. The average employee works five more hours per week than they would like to; 63% would like to reduce their hours.

People online spend 1-3 hours per day scrolling through social media - much of this is before we even get out of bed. According to Headspace, this can cloud our minds and affect our mental health. We’re often left feeling anxious - and time poor.

Getting the kids to school on time, pre-work “emergency emails” and worries about the day ahead can put us in a heightened level of stress in the morning. To make matters worse, if we’ve had a bad night’s sleep - a frequent occurrence when stressed - important cognitive functions are affected.

That’s why it’s so important to make time for yourself. A morning meditation will give you that much needed boost, setting the tone for the rest of the day.

What are the benefits of a morning meditation?

Getting up any earlier might feel tough, but making time for yourself in the morning can be one of the four ways to prioritise your wellness.

In fact, tests into the effects of mindfulness show that after eight weeks, the brain's “fight or flight” centre the amygdala, - responsible for increased anxiety, depression and emotional behaviour -appears to shrink. Consequently, as the amygdala shrinks, the prefrontal cortex – associated with awareness, concentration and decision-making – becomes thicker, which increases your ability to perform these functions.

So, this type of brain exercise actually strengthens your thought processes, providing the support and groundwork you need to stay calm throughout the day.

Mindfulness in the morning

A simple and popular meditation technique you can practice in the morning is ‘RAIN’. Created about 20 years ago, this mindfulness process is made up of four simple steps:

Recognise: Become aware of the kind of emotion you are having and give it a mental label, e.g. “fear”, “sadness”, “joy”, “thinking”, etc.

Allow: Can you let this emotion be here? If possible, try and gently accept it. Recognise that all emotions are OK, it’s our relationship with these emotions that can cause a problem.

Investigate: Try and dig a little deeper. What does the emotion feel like - particularly in your body? Is it in your chest, belly or elsewhere? Does it move or stay the same? Are there any thoughts that come with it? Try to use mindfulness to experience the emotion in the present moment.

Not identify with: Whilst you go through this process, you’ll begin to take this emotion less personally. You should begin to see it as it is; energy in motion - passing through you.

The idea is to see this feeling as ‘the anxiety’, as opposed to ‘my anxiety’. This simple process allows you to get space from a difficult emotion, regaining a sense of calm.

Mindfulness can be a useful form of meditation in the morning because, instead of dwelling on what’s coming up, it forces you to focus on the present. However, there are several other techniques that can be just as effective and, importantly - just as quick.

3 quick and easy morning meditations

Breathing: ‘Mindful breathing’ means simply focusing on inhaling and exhaling. First, take an exaggerated breath: a deep inhale through your nostrils (3 seconds). Next, hold your breath (2 seconds), and then exhale through your mouth (4 seconds). Repeat for 5 minutes at the start of your day to calm yourself from stress, anxiety and any negative emotions.

Mantra: A mantra is a word (or sound) that you chant aloud - or repeat silently - to get into a meditative state. Repeating the same word can help you find calm and focus, setting the tone for how you’ll face the day. Here are 8 common mantras that can help focus the mind.

Walking: Finally, walking meditation is a great way to prepare for the day ahead. This 10 minute exercise involves 1 minute of paying attention to the body’s feelings while you walk. Focus on the feeling of your breath, the sensations of the air or wind on your skin, what you can hear and what you can see. The major benefit of this type of meditation is that you can easily fit it into your everyday schedule, e.g. the walk to work.

Besides meditations, there are plenty of other ways you can give your mental health a quick boost in the morning. From a parkrun at the weekend to taking that break from your desk you usually skip. Make time to prioritise your own wellbeing - it’s important.

At Natural Fit, we believe that taking part in physical activities can improve your mental fitness as well. Just a few minutes of natural movement a day can improve your concentration, motivation, memory and mood.

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