How to Bounce out of Bed Every Morning

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Tim Brownson.

Do you ever have those mornings when you don’t want to get out of bed and you’d rather just roll over and go back to sleep? Does being cocooned in your warm snugly duvet sound much more appealing than getting up?

If you dislike your job, or even if you love it, you occasionally experience these mornings because motivation ebbs and flows depending on all sorts of factors.

What if you could control that ebbing and flowing and shift your state in an instant? What if you could move from feeling lethargic and sleepy to enthused and pumped?

Let me show you how you can move your state rapidly from sleepy to pumped, from unenthusiastic to motivated, and from nervous to confident — and it doesn’t involve drugs or excessive caffeine!

Ever since the days of Pavlov and his famous dog-and-bell experiment, psychologists have known about the power of conditioned responses, also known as “anchors.”

A conditioned response occurs when one event or situation stimulates the same automatic response each time without any conscious intervention by the person involved.

For example, perhaps you once heard a specific song at the same time you received bad news. If your mood shifts instantly the next time you hear that song and you experience those negative feelings all over again, that song has become an anchor for you.

I tell a story in How To Be Rich and Happy about the time I got sick shortly after eating a Scotch egg (a disgusting concoction of a hard-boiled egg covered in sausage meat). My illness wasn’t in any way caused by the egg; it was entirely coincidental. Yet for 20 years afterward, the thought of eating a Scotch egg made me feel nauseated. That is also an anchor.

We all have dozens of anchors. The two mentioned above are negative examples, but you have positive ones, too. If the smell of coffee perks you up in the morning, that is a positive anchor. You can’t ingest caffeine through smell alone, so your body speeds the process up for you through a series of autonomic responses. It knows that smell = drink = stimulation and cuts out the middle man by kickstarting your morning. Cool, eh?

Although we’ve known about conditioned responses and anchoring for decades, it’s only relatively recently with the use of PET scans, fMRIs, and research into brain plasticity that we’ve started to understand how anchors are formed.*

The following exercise requires total concentration, so find 15 to 20 minutes when you can close your eyes and not be disturbed. Two good times for this exercise are just before you fall asleep at night and just after you wake up in the morning.

How to Set an Effective Anchor

1. Take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and allow your eyes to close and a wave of relaxation to flow down your body. Do this three or four times, with your eyes remaining closed, and allow yourself to become completely relaxed.

2. When you are fully relaxed, start re-creating the feelings you want to anchor. If it’s enthusiasm, think of a time when you were especially pumped up. Maybe you were going on vacation, starting a new job, or going on a hot date. To create the required state, see what you would have seen when you previously experienced it, hear what you would have heard, and feel what you felt. If there are any tastes or smells associated, allow them to be present, too. The more sensory information you include, the better this works.

The really cool thing about your brain is that it’s not very good at distinguishing between what is actually happening to you and what you are imagining. That’s why you can generate feelings from memories or from events that haven’t even happened.

3. When you start to feel that sense of motivation (or whatever emotion you are working on), let the feelings double and then double again.

4. When you get to a point when you know they are about to peak, set the anchor by touching a specific place on your body that you can touch easily at any time in the future. Try touching your forearm or your knuckles, pulling your ear lobe, or touching your index finger to your thumb. Try to avoid a motion that you already use regularly because you don’t want to fire this anchor by mistake and reduce its effectiveness.

Whatever you choose, be sure that you can replicate the touch exactly. If you use your fingers on your forearms, for example, you need to use the same number of fingers and the same amount of pressure each time.

5. Once you’ve set your anchor, break your state by thinking about something completely different for a few moments.

6. When your mind is elsewhere and the positive feeling has naturally subsided, fire the anchor by repeating whatever action you decided on. Allow the feelings to flow and do not fight them; just know they will be there.

7. If they are not as intense as you would like (and they almost certainly won’t be the first few times), no problem; do the process again. Keep doing it over and over until your brain associates your anchor with your required state.

I cannot reiterate strongly enough that this technique cannot fail if you genuinely create the required feelings when setting the anchor and then do it enough times to build up the neural connections.

Play with it and let me know in the comments how you get on.

*If you want to learn more about how your brain works, check out The Brain That  Changes Itself by Norman Doidge and Your Brain At Work by David Rock. If you’d like to see a video demonstration of anchoring, click the link.

About the Author: Tim Brownson is a Life Coach, NLP Master Practitioner, and author from England now living in Orlando, Florida. He is currently involved in a huge project to give away 1,000,000 copies of a book he co-wrote called How To Be Rich and Happy.

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  1. says

    I know enough about NLP to be dangerous (studied a little with Jonathan Altfeld here in Tampa)

    Conscious anchoring does work. I like how you mentioned that if it’s not as powerful the first few time to go back and do the exercise again until it sticks. I know when I first discovered anchoring I did NOT do this and almost blew it off as “one of those things that don’t really work.”

    I do feel though Tim, you could have did the post without you in the pink shirt. 😉

    • says

      The problem is TT, some trainers use anchoring in training sessions and it may simply be a light tap on the shoulder or something similar.

      That is more like suggestion than anchoring and confuses people. It takes a lot more than that to form a proper anchor that will work.

  2. says

    Thank you for sharing this technique. I definitely can use a morning boost as the gray months move in.

    In fact, you’ve given me ideas on how to use this with people struggling with the winter blues. Very cool!

    Many thanks again.


  3. says

    Wow, these are some really great tips. I will definatley try them. I’ve stuggled with not being a morning person all my life. No matter how good I sleep, I need 3 cups of coffee to get going. It is a true hinderance. Thanks so much for writing this post!! I feel hopeful.

  4. says

    Its amazing how easy it is to jump out of bed when you have something to look forward to.

    There are times where you can’t sleep because you are so excited about the day ahead.

    Along with NLP I think its important to have a compelling reason to jump out of bed, something that excites you, something that makes you want to MOVE!

    Thanks for this great post =)

  5. says

    I used to have trouble waking up in the morning. I created an anchoring technique like you mention.

    When my alarm goes off, I’ve trained myself to spread my arms out wide and stretch. In that moment, I inhale deeply to oxygenate the brain and focus on the image of me running on the beach in my minds eye.

    It works every time. I wake “out of” my perfect run … ready to tackle anything.

    • says

      It’s amazing how many people use anchoring and don’t even know it.

      I worked with a professional public speaker that used to beat himself on his chest 3 times and say a little mantra every time before he went on stage. “Wow, you’ve set an anchor to pump you up” I said. He just looked at me blankly and said “What’s an anchor?”

  6. says

    I got so excited when I read this post because NLP is something that I’m really passionate about.

    I love the idea of anchors and never thought to apply them to waking up. That’s probably the point in my day when I need the biggest change in state.

    Just wanted to add that repetition seems to be a key ingredient here. The more an anchor is repeated, the stronger it gets. The really exciting part about that is it will get easier and easier to get out of bed in the morning as this becomes a habit. Yes!


  7. says

    Well I was hoping for the drugs.. oh, wait, I already have those!

    I’ll give this a try; reckon it will work through the dampener of chronic pain too? I’m mostly upbeat, but there are days where I just don’t want to push the damn chair one more inch, or go through the marathon of getting showered and dressed.

    Thank God I married a man who can cook or I’d starve! :)

    • says

      Second thoughts you’re in England, don’t call my cell!

      In short Ryah, anchoring will not work if you are in more pain than you are in the state you want to anchor. In fact you risk anchoring the pain. If you are ever pain free, go for it! Otherwise, don’t.

  8. says

    Ryah, that is really tricky. What type of pain is it?

    This is a post in it’s own right. If you like I can explain in more detail and you are welcome to call me on 407 334 4692.

  9. says

    Ohh Tim, that’s kind of you! Maybe I was too blase with my comment; I forget that people don’t know me from Adam.

    I get nerve pain from a back injury almost 20 years ago, but the killers are arthritis and muscle cramps. I’m 46 with the joints of an 80 year old. It might not be so bad if I hadn’t got all these on top of my original birth disability, but you deal with what you’re given.

    And in spite of it all, I wouldn’t change a thing. :)

    I’ve just seen an email of your second comment Tim; no, I’m very rarely pain free. And you’re spot on about anchoring pain, because that has happened to me over the years.

    I am fairly strong mentally, and can push the pain down, like folding it in on itself until it’s squashed into a box.

    Anyway, that’s enough about me! Sorry everyone. :)

  10. says

    I share the opinion that morning groggyness can be something really hard to get rid of, many times. It is common and understandable, but it is better to wake up fresh and ready for the day. Anchors like these may be a useful solution for that little problem that all of us must have already experienced.

  11. says

    Wow, Tim!

    I’ve been struggling to wake up every morning for as long as I remember. Recently, I’ve been trying to develop a habit where I’d wake up at a certain time – It’s working some, but not as much as I’d like it to. I’ll definitely try the anchor!

    I could associate an energized feeling whenever I hear my alarm clock buzzing and then associate a motivated feeling whenever I stretch out my eyebrows (I chose this because it sort of feels like I’m giving my brain a stretch when I do it).

    Really motivating post! I’m really excited to get started. :)


  12. says

    I think that waking up at the same time every morning can set up our biological clock and it all becomes mechanical. What I do in the morning is to listen to a nice song (my anchor) but the bad part is that the song doesn’t work more than a few times, then I get bored and I need to find a different song.

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