The morning sets the tone for the day. Starting off mindfully helps you take control of your day before it takes control of you.
A morning ritual is a wonderful self-care practice. You’re literally putting yourself first every day. This isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. If you constantly put others’ needs ahead of your own, never taking the time to replenish your reserves, you will eventually run out. Just like your phone, you can’t function with a drained battery. A morning ritual recharges you every day, helping you feel calm, centered, and energized.
If you think it sounds selfish to take time for yourself when you have responsibilities to others, consider how it can actually help them. When your energy is calm and happy, it will influence those around you. As you go about your day, you can positively impact everyone you see.
Spend a few minutes thinking about your current mornings. What are some words that describe how they are, and how you feel most days? Write these down. Can you point to what is happening in your morning that leads to those feelings? For example, I used to feel rushed and frantic each morning. I realized that I was sleeping late by hitting the snooze button repeatedly, making me feel I had to jump up and rush into my day.
Next, list some words that describe how you’d like to feel, and how you’d like your mornings to be. Often we’re on autopilot in the morning and don’t even realize how our actions affect us. Simply noticing how we feel, and what might feel better, is a big step forward.
Here are some suggestions for how to make your mornings go more smoothly:
- If you use an alarm to wake up in the morning, don’t hit snooze. This can make you feel groggy. Instead, wake up as soon as your alarm goes off, and voila: you have a few extra minutes of time in your morning.
If you already don’t hit snooze, set your alarm just a little early (even 5 minutes is good).
When you wake up, before you get out of bed, take a few moments to come fully awake. Stretch (I like to hug my knees into my chest). Take several deep breaths. As your mind starts to come online, focus on something happy–either something you’re looking forward to that day, something nice that happened the previous day, or something you’re grateful for.
Then sit up, and pause for a moment to feel your feet on the floor. The feet have a lot of nerve endings, and doing this can really help you feel grounded.
Take this mindfulness with you into the rest of your morning. As you go about your daily routine of getting ready, try to keep an awareness of how you’re feeling. Just as eating a single raisin mindfully awakens all your senses and increases your appreciation of it, being fully present in each activity enhances it.
- Play with making each action in your morning more nourishing. For example, while you’re in the shower, try this tip from massage therapist and Reiki master Tanja Richter: “I pay attention to the water hitting my head and streaming downward, and picture it washing all the negative stuff out of me and down the drain. I imagine the fresh water replenishing me with new blessings for the day. It’s short but very powerful.”
- Try not to multitask. It’s tempting on busy mornings to juggle three things at once, but resist. It might feel like you’re getting more done, but studies show that we’re less efficient when we multitask, and it will scatter your energy. Strengthen your ability to focus by putting your full attention on each activity in turn. This also makes your morning feel much more peaceful, and you can carry that feeling of peace with you throughout your day.
Follow these simple steps and wake up to a whole new way of starting your day! If you’d like to go further, think about those words you listed of how you want to feel. Then try some activities that deliver those feelings. For instance, if you want to feel more centered, you can try meditating. If you want to feel more energized, you can try walking or yoga. If you have a lot on your mind and want to get clarity, you can try journaling.
You can also brainstorm a list of the things that bring you joy, and see if you can incorporate any of those into your mornings. Experiment with a variety of ideas and see what makes you feel best.
Start small and keep it simple. A short and consistent practice beats a long but infrequent one every time. Start with tiny changes (i.e., I will take ten slow breaths in bed each morning this week), then add on as those become routine.
And be kind to yourself! Change it up when you want, and if you need to skip a day, no worries! Remember, a morning ritual is meant to revitalize and refresh you, not stress you out.