First impressions matter. When first meeting somebody, their first impression of you usually sets up how they view you from that moment on. With books and movies, the beginning of the story sets up the end, serving as a foundation for the entire structure of that story. First impressions set the tone. The same goes for your day.
Establishing a routine for your morning allows you to set the foundation for the rest of your day. If you have no schedule set for your mornings, then usually you may end up doing whatever you feel like doing, which usually isn’t anything too productive when you’re still half asleep and your bed is warmer than the outside world. You may end up hitting snooze 3 times before unlocking your phone to check emails and social media, get up and head to the coffee pot, before getting ready for work while grabbing a quick bite that requires no preparation. Checking your phone first thing when you wake up could contribute to additional anxiety or stress, whether it be text messages, emails, or social media (or all 3). One study found that, “limiting social media usage does have a direct and positive impact on subjective well-being over time, especially with respect to decreasing loneliness and depression.” We’re literally setting up our day for stress before we even step foot out of our beds. I’m guilty of this too.
Having a routine and building positive habits are great for mental health and your sense of well-being. This holds especially true when it comes to having a morning ritual. Mornings are a perfect time to have your “you” space. The world around you isn’t filled with noise yet, the kids are sleeping, and your mind hasn’t been filled with a day full of tasks and duties (unless you’ve scrolled through your phone). It’s the best time (and possibly the only time) for you to be able to connect with yourself. This connecting with yourself is something you may be lacking in your busy life. Our days are filled with countless things to take care of which often leaves no time for us to take care of ourselves. It’s so easy to get lost in this whirlwind of to-do’s and taking care of the ones that depend on you, you may forget that you also depend on you. Your morning can be your special, sacred space that holds you together while the world is trying to spread you thin.
Here are few examples of what your morning ritual could consist of:
- Setting intentions
- Cold shower
- Listening to music
- Practicing gratitude
Setting intentions will allow you to tell yourself, or the universe, what your aim is for the day. This could be in terms of feeling, doing, thinking, or non-doing. Setting intentions allows you to connect with your values, and serves as a reminder of why you are here.
Meditation, when practiced in the morning, really sets the tone for mental and emotional stability throughout the day, whether it be practicing mindfulness or loving-kindness, or maybe even both!
Journaling provides a space for you to express yourself, however you want. Journaling is a great method to connect with yourself, to get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper, to work through a problem you’ve been wrestling with, or to use to set intentions.
Prayer connects you to something higher than yourself. This could done as a way to worship, or to simply wish others well-being and happiness. Prayer could help foster feelings of selflessness, compassion, and love.
Exercise is a great way to wake the body up and get the happy chemicals in your brain flowing. Increased blood flow and endorphins are a great cocktail for feeling alive, plus the confidence that is built from the discipline of sweating before your day has begun is an added benefit.
Yoga (asana) can be thought of as a moving meditation, or a combination of meditation and exercise. Morning yoga will move your body’s energy which has stagnated from sleep, keep your muscles and joints flexible and pliable, and keep you feeling like the best you.
Cold showers sound extreme, and they might be, but the intensity of the experience is nothing short of invigorating. Getting into a freezing cold shower everyday requires a discipline that bleeds into the rest of your day, plus the benefits it has for your brain simply leave you feeling amazing.
Listening to music doesn’t require much explanation, as music is a universal language. You can listen to calming or classical music to set the tone for focus and calm, or you can jam out and maybe even dance and sing to wake yourself up and get you in a good mood.
Listen to yourself. You know best what you need and what you’re able to do. My morning routine has transformed over the years, and that’s because where I’m at in my life has changed. You may fall off track every once in a while, and that’s perfectly normal. But I do notice when my foundation isn’t set firm with my morning routine, my mind slowly becomes less interested with structure, and my life consequently begins feeling less stable. On the other hand, when I’m in the flow of my daily morning routine, my life feels like it’s running more smoothly, and that I’m better equipped and ready to handle the curveballs of whatever the day wants to throw in my direction.