If mornings are the most chaotic time of the day … if you feel agitated before you even get out the door … if you regularly have a heavy heart and can’t explain why, I am going to encourage you to make one small change in your morning routine: resist the urge to reach for the phone.

Starting your day by checking the phone is like flipping a switch from peace to productivity … from loving nurturer to grumpy manager … from present to absent. Reaching for the phone takes you out of your cozy pajamas-clad world and catapults you into an online world overloaded with information, opinions, and negativity — not to mention the personal demands and requests. Once your mind leaves your loved ones and fixates on all the things you need to do, it’s hard to come back. Scrolling, clicking, and responding can sneakily rob you of the precious minutes you need to get out the door on time — and then everyone is yelling. I know these things because checking the phone was how I began my day — and sabotaged it — for several years.

Things are different now, and I attribute an overall improvement in my home environment and personal well-being to one small tweak: Reaching for meaningful things rather than the phone to start my day.

Because technology is so ingrained in our lives, it’s easy to forget there are other options in the morning besides reaching for the phone. But come tomorrow morning, we don’t have to do what we did yesterday. Come tomorrow morning, we don’t have to do what 80% of the population does upon rising. Come tomorrow morning, we can do something much more fulfilling.

I’ve estimated that the initial phone check costs three to ten minutes. In that same amount of time, we can do something that will positively influence the rest of the day and possibly our life. Simply by reaching for something besides the phone when we rise, we can cultivate more meaningful connection, more purpose, and more contentment. Let’s look at some practical options …

Instead of reaching for the phone when you rise, reach for love.

· Reach for your loved one’s hand beneath the covers and start a morning ritual of saying, “I love waking up next to you.”

· Open your arms for a hug. Be the last to let go.

· Walk into your children’s room and watch them sleep for a moment. See the peace settled on their faces. Listen to their breathing. Listen to your own breathing.

· Write an affirming note to put in your child’s or loved one’s lunchbox or notebook.

Instead of reaching for the phone when you rise, care for yourself.

· Stick a motivational quote on your mirror. Read it aloud every morning, plus the one you put up the day before.

· Pour a pitcher of water and set it in the fridge. Aim to drink it all by the end of the day.

· Make yourself a salad for later so you can guarantee you will fill your body with goodness.

· Do some gentle stretches while thinking of ten things you are grateful for.

Instead of reaching for the phone first thing in the morning, renew your soul.

· Go for a short walk or simply step outside and notice one miracle in nature.

· Read the Bible, a book of poetry, or daily inspiration book filled with reminders to breathe more, stress less, and choose love.

· Do a mindfulness exercise or take several deep, cleansing breaths.

· Hold your pet and gently pet his or her fur

Instead of reaching for the phone when you rise, do something you’ve been putting off.

· Dedicate a few minutes to that book you have been wanting to write or that art you’ve been yearning to create. Just imagine what you’ll have in one year if you create a little bit each day.

· Dedicate a few minutes to exercise. Put in a video if you can’t leave the house. Just imagine how you will feel if you do a ten-minute video every day for six weeks.

· Make a list of all the health check ups you have been avoiding. Jot down the contact information and put it on a check off list. Just imagine the relief you will feel once you get that mammogram, colonoscopy, skin check, dentist cleaning, or health screening taken care of.

Instead of reaching for the phone when you rise, make the world better.

· Retrieve the newspaper for your elderly neighbor.

· Make muffins for your family to give local firefighters, teachers, service workers or homeless people.

· Send a note of encouragement to someone who has suffered loss, is having a birthday, or has just been on your mind. There’s something about seeing a handwritten note in the mailbox that makes a spirit soar. May that goodness come back to you.

If you still feel you must start your day with the phone, just do one thing before you grab it. As soon as you open your eyes, say to yourself: 
 Today is a new day. I am thankful I’ve been given this gift. My goal is to get out of bed and greet myself and my family with love. Love is how I will start this day.

* From the book ONLY LOVE TODAY

When we pick up the phone to start our day, we get farther from the life we want to live. Information, messages, and requests take us away from what matters to us and shifts it to what matters to everyone else. By reaching for something fulfilling in the morning, we get closer to the live we want to live — a life of meaning, knowing our people, caring for ourselves, and engaging in actions that could become our legacy when we’re gone.

ONLY LOVE TODAY: Reminders to Breathe More, Stress Less, & Choose Love is a moment-to-moment resource of life-changing tweaks written & lived by New York Times bestselling author Rachel Macy Stafford. Each short entry (organized by seasons of life) serves as a re-set button directing us back to peace, connection, authenticity, self-care, self-acceptance, hope, and love. Secure your copy of this highly anticipated book by clicking here.

Originally published at medium.com