by Jill Sylvester

In order to make the most of your life, and to have strong mental health that steers the ship, I have come to believe that by setting your alarm a bit earlier- even just fifteen minutes- in order to rise before anything is required of you, before anyone else needs you, so that you are able to focus on your intention for the day, the day you want to create,you set yourself up for a lifetime of success. Rather than diving into email to answer this person and put out that fire, you take control of your schedule, and design your time the way you want to. Getting up earlier allows you to become more playful, choosing activities that get you in the right head space, like going for a run or a walk outside, yoga, meditating, or all three if you dare. What matters most is that what you choose speaks to your life and feels right for you, so that the morning starts off in a positive, refueling, energizing manner.

Here are other activities to consider when you rise early.

Practice of Gratitude 

Journaling Gratitude each and every morning. I recommend that my clients strive to begin each day by writing down 3-5 things for which they are grateful. Engaging in this routine, you are sending your brain powerful messages on what is going right in your life, versus what is not going the way you want it go. This important activity helps to quiet the gremlins that start chattering in our brains the moment we open our eyes. Gratitude is a game-changer and helps direct our thoughts on the road we’d like them to go. Where thought goes, energy follows. 


Sitting in quiet each morning to focus your mind on how you’d like the day to go has been an important part of my morning routine for over twenty years. Picturing in your mind how you’d like your day to go from the moment you wake, helps set the trajectory for the next twenty-four hours in almost, if not exactly, the way you imagine. For example, focusing on having an easy and effortless morning routine with your family before everyone gets out the door, being on time, flowing through your work day, eating mindfully, remembering to call someone you’ve been meaning to, picking up what you need for dinner, making a dinner that is healthy, interacting with family members in a loving fashion, watching mindless or motivating TV with those you love and getting to bed on time. When you start the day this way- and it only takes a few minutes to do this visualization exercise believe it or not- you find that day goes pretty much as you planned, right down to remembering that person you needed to call while you were driving in your car to pick up the groceries you needed. It’s like that. But don’t take my word for it, try it yourself and see. My clients have been amazed at how when they visualize their day, their life, things work out in what seems like magic.

Being the designer of our days and the master of our mental health does not have to require a new prescription or gym membership. By Incorporating simple strategies that require only an investment of time on a consistent basis can yield strong results for our mental health and our life.

Jill Sylvester is a licensed mental health counselor and author of Trust Your Intuition: 100 Ways to Transform Anxiety and Depression for Stronger Mental Health. For more information about her work and to sign up for her free monthly newsletter for tips on health and wellness, please visit

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