10 minutes is all it takes to set ourselves up for a mentally healthy day. This routine is something that I practice most mornings and it has enormous impact on how well I’m able to respond to the demands of everyday life, and it’s one that I teach many of my clients as well.

The next time your alarm goes off, try this:

1 | Get up and set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes.

2 | Find a quiet space, and sit comfortably with an upright spine.

Part I: Scan Your Body, Emotions & Thoughts (5 minutes)

Scan your body and notice any sensations you feel. Take note of whether you perceive them to be pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Pay attention to variations (from pain, to tickling, to warmth or coolness) and intensity (which ones are grabbing your attention the most?).

Ask yourself, “How’s it going?” Notice both pleasant and/or uncomfortable emotions, paying attention to which ones are strong and which ones are weak. If your feelings were colours, which ones would they be?

You might have noticed that your mind has wandered over the course of the last few minutes. Ask yourself where your mind went (without getting caught up in the thoughts themselves!). Try labelling themes, like “work-related,” “fantasy,” or “rumination.” Don’t judge yourself for them, and hold distance by imagining your thoughts are leaves floating by on a river.  

Part II: Role Model Imagery (2-3 minutes)

Picture yourself in a scene of your choice (in a meadow, on the beach, at your family home, etc.). In this location, imagine that you’re surrounded by people you admire, or picture your older and wiser self. Imagine breathing in all of the attributes, strengths and resources that you admire about your chosen person(s). Based on what’s present in your body and mind today, what wisdom would your role model offer you? How would they suggest you proceed in a helpful way?

Part III: Present Attunement (2-3 minutes)

Choose an object in your current surroundings and bring your attention to its physical characteristics. This helps ground you by bringing you back to the present moment. Commit to acting as your role model would throughout the rest of your day.