The 8-minute rule

Written by: Chelsea Pottenger | January 31, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Photo credit: Ruby & Ted Photography

Did you check your phone the second you woke up in this morning?

You’re not alone. As a corporate mindfulness practitioner, working with thousands of busy professionals, many of whom are in high-stress jobs, I have noticed a problematic pattern in many of my clients’ daily routines. Over the past three years, we surveyed more than 95,000 participants and found a staggering 90% of Australians check their phones as soon as they wake up each morning.

We know from other alarming research from around the world, that checking your phone first up in the morning has detrimental impacts for your brain. When we first awaken, we transition from a delta brainwave of sleep into a theta brain wave, and it’s in this theta state that the brain is more flexible and malleable. It’s an important time for enhancing emotional intelligence, memory and creativity. 

By waking up and checking text messages, scrolling through emails, checking social media and the news, Australians are skipping this important theta brain wave and heading straight into a beta brainwave of high stress which is having a significant impact on the physical structure of our brains, and our health and wellbeing.

You only get a short window in the morning to set your day up for success, so what healthy morning routines can you do instead? 

1. Don’t look at your phone
Limit technology for eight minutes when you first wake up. Our modern day is ruled by technology. Remove all temptations and keep your phone outside the bedroom for a calm and balanced start to the day. 

2. Practice 30 seconds of gratitude
Harvard research suggests that practicing 30 seconds of gratitude a day, strengthens and grows the part of the brain that builds resilience. Cultivating an attitude of gratefulness shifts your perspective from negative to positive, therefore seeing the good things rather than the bad.

3. Look at a visual representation of your goals
You don’t even have to move out of bed. Visualisation and looking at imagery of your goals helps wire your brain for happiness, success and a positive mindset. The new EQ Minds vision board program is highly effective. (Read more about the program at

4. Gentle stretching
Stretching first thing in the morning improves your brain’s activity and decreases inflammation. Spend 10 minutes each morning stretching. Focus on your upper and lower back, sides, and hamstrings.

5. Have a glass of warm water with lemon
Squeeze half a lemon into a glass of warm water and have this after your stretching and about 30 minutes prior to breakfast. This will help to kick start your digestive juices and boost your liver during the detoxifying phase. 


Chelsea Pottenger is founder and director of EQ Consulting, which delivers cognitive tools to recharge our brains in the corporate sector. 

Learn more at and 

Success North Queensland | Connecting Cairns and Townsville