Starting your day mindfully improves the rest of the day. Morning rituals are wonderfully beneficial, but when you’re busy, the thought of trying to squeeze something else into your day can be overwhelming. The good news is that your ritual doesn’t have to be complex or time-consuming to be effective. Here are some short and sweet practices that you can easily manage.
Instead of jumping out of bed, take a moment to center yourself. After you wake up, lie still and take three deep breaths. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart. Breathe in slowly through your nose until you reach maximum capacity, feeling your belly rise. Then slowly release the breath through your mouth, feeling your belly fall. Imagine that you are inhaling peace and exhaling any tension you may have. Repeat two more times. Then stretch your arms and legs, lengthening your body as much as you can. As you get out of bed, pause to feel your feet on the floor. Then get up and on with your day, refreshed and ready!
Instead of checking your phone first thing, which can negatively affect your focus and your mood, do something uplifting for five minutes. Write in a journal, sit in silence, read a few pages of an inspiring book—whatever makes you feel happier.
This practice doesn’t take any extra time at all, so it’s especially great for those super-busy days. Feel the water hitting your head and streaming downward. Imagine that it is washing all negative energy out of you and down the drain. Then imagine the fresh water replenishing you with positive energy for the day.
Sip your morning coffee or tea outdoors for an instant reset, courtesy of nature. Getting sunlight first thing makes you more alert and spurs production of the mood-booster serotonin; it also helps regulate your sleep cycles. Bonus points if you can put your bare feet on the earth for some quick grounding.
Take a few minutes to sit quietly and think about the day ahead. Check in with yourself and see how you’re feeling. What does your day hold? Is there something important you want to accomplish? Set the intention that you will handle it easily. Visualize it going well. Are you facing a busy day? Set the intention to navigate it with serenity and grace. Visualize a smooth path ahead of you. Feel free to ask for help from whatever higher power you believe in, or simply your own inner self.
You can also use this time to brainstorm ways make your day easier or to treat yourself (having a reward to look forward to can brighten up even the toughest days). For example, is there something you can take off your list or ask someone else to do? Is there a break in the day where you can relax and enjoy a cup of tea or a quiet moment outside? Ask yourself what would make you happy, and see if you can make it happen.
While you’re getting ready, eating breakfast, or commuting to work, think about what you’re thankful for. Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been shown to have enormous benefits: it enhances physical health, psychological health, mental strength, and self-esteem. Paying attention to what’s good in your life is a wonderful way to start each day with a positive mindset. And the more you appreciate what’s around you, the more you notice things to appreciate.
Beginning your day with one of these simple morning rituals will help center and calm you, empowering you to be your best self. You can also practice them at other times—during lunchtime, for an afternoon break, or in the evening to transition between work and home.
And you can always come back to your breathing to for a mini-break. Close your eyes if possible and just focus on feeling the breath as it enters and exits your nose. Breathe as deeply and slowly as possible. If you’re feeling anxious, try kaki pranayama, or “bird’s beak,” breath: inhale through your nose. Then purse your lips into an O, as if you were drinking from a straw, and exhale slowly. This helps bring about the relaxation response. Repeat until you feel calmer.
A morning ritual refreshes and restores you every day. Even tiny actions can have an enormous positive impact. Try one of the practices above for a week and see how much better you feel!