When you wake up each morning, do you find yourself constantly hitting the snooze button, fighting the inevitable? How you begin the day often sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Here are some ways to start each day with a step toward mindful living. These are methods I put into practice in my own life, and methods I have recommended to others over the years as a parenting and human behavior expert.

Dream Journal

When I first wake up, I will often try to write down my dreams in my dream journal. Dreams are powerful tools that give us access to our own unconscious material, and give us the capacity to grow towards individuation, which helps us lead a more intentional and authentic life. First thing in the morning is the best time to recall our dreams because, as you may have already experienced yourself, we can forget or twist details as our conscious wakes up and we move out of dream state. When we listen to our unconscious by unlocking the messages in our dreams, we can go about our days with intention and clarity.

Yoga and Chi Gong Stretches

In today’s world, many of us may spend most of the day sitting at a desk. Studies show that a sedentary lifestyle can present many health problems. You may choose to do a whole yoga routine or take a class to start your day, but even a few simple morning stretches can help you begin each day with focus and intention. Poses like the sun salutation can help get blood flowing while stretching your muscles, preparing them for the day ahead. The tree pose can help you focus on deep breathing while you set your intention for the day. Practicing yoga or Chi Gong in the morning can help calm your nerves while also energizing your body for the day ahead.

Surrender to the day’s tasks

When we become anxious about a busy day ahead, we add unnecessary stress to our lives and set a negative tone for the day. Instead of stressing, look forward to the day ahead, and intentionally surrender to the tasks that you have to do in a positive way. When you accept what lies before you, when you are fully present in the moment of each task instead of worrying about what’s next, you can then move from a smoother place because you have learned embraced the day instead of trying to fight the day.

Schedule a reward

By the same token, if you do have a busy day ahead, be sure to reward yourself by giving yourself something to look forward to. Maybe it’s setting aside time to talk with a friend or meet up with a friend at the gym; maybe it’s planning to stop by your favorite bookstore on the way home to buy the new novel you’ve been excited to read.

Special morning ritual

There is something to be said for starting the day with a routine that you know to be familiar, to help rouse both body and mind from sleep state. Maybe you take your tea by a sunlit window each morning after yoga. Perhaps you wake before the rest of your family for a few minutes of quiet meditation. Or maybe you take your dog for a walk each morning to watch the sunrise. Whatever it is, create a special morning ritual that has meaning to you, and brings you joy to start your day.

What are some of your favorite ways to start each morning?  


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at EmpowHER.com since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Amazon.com. Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.