If you're like most of us, mornings are very likely associated with things like exhaustion and stress. But it doesn't have to be like this! There are even morning rituals that can change your life — or at the very least put you in the right frame of mind to tackle the day and keep you in a calmer, more positive state of mind.
I used to set my morning alarm for the last moment possible, meaning I was forced to jolt awake, scramble for clothes, and be out the door, checking emails on the way to the subway. I'd then chug a coffee at work and forage for breakfast if I had time. I thought this was genuinely for the best, since it technically meant I was getting the most sleep possible. It never even occurred to me that starting my day like this instantly got me started on the wrong foot, spiking my anxiety and totally throwing off my center of balance.
It wasn't until I realized stress was taking its toll on me (I was feeling depressed for the first time in my life) that I realized I needed to look into ways to make changes — and at the time quitting my job was not an option.
After tons of reading and research, one of the things I began to notice was that almost every life coach and successful high level executive out there notes the importance of starting your morning right when it comes to tackling the day — especially when you have a high-stress job or life situation. If you've been feeling like your mornings are getting the best of you before the day even starts, here are 11 morning rituals that should help:
1. Make A No Phone And Email Rule
According to Linda Esposito, LCSW in a piece for Psychology Today, it's super important to start you day in a proactive, as opposed to reactive way. And the problem is, instantly reaching for our phones and checking Facebook or our work e-mail makes us reactive — we're being exposed to outside stimuli and there's no way our minds and emotions won't respond. Instead, she recommended taking at least the first 10 minutes of your morning to just sit with yourself. This could also entail making your tea or coffee, looking out a window, or meditating. Just make sure it only involves you.
2. Make Your Bed
Tim Ferris, efficiency expert and author of The Four Hour Work Week highly recommended simply making your bed every single morning. He noted that it means you'll have already accomplished something before you leave your house, and that you'll also come home to that accomplishment each night.
3. Drink Water Before Drinking Anything Else
In an article for Inc., consultant John Boitnott said to drink a glass of water before you grab the caffeinated beverage, as it will help cure any dehydration from the night and make you feel a lot better overall. And if you claim you first drink of the day has to be caffeinated it might be all in your head — studies show that our bodies actually react best to caffeine once we've been up an hour or so, meaning that waiting a little before you imbibe will reap the most beneficial effects.
4. Organize Your Space
Boitnott also noted that a tidy space — whether we work from home or at an office — goes hand in hand with feeling less stressed or frazzled. If you haven't tidied the night before, spend 10 minutes organizing and creating a clear desk space before you begin — odds are you'll feel better instantly.
5. Have A Mindful Practice
Matt Valentine, founder of the site Buddhaimonia, noted the importance of engaging in a mindful practice every single morning. He says for him, it's the ritual of brewing tea while thinking of nothing else (and not feeling guilty about thinking about nothing else). However, you can also do this with just about anything — like making coffee, or washing and conditioning your hair. As long as you commit to being fully present in the moment and not worrying about anything else, it becomes a mindful practice.
And if you have even more time to spare, you can go a step beyond mindful practice and meditate. "Most everything else can fluctuate to some extent, but a daily practice of sitting meditation is one of the most powerful daily practices there is and really should be consistent if you want to get everything you can out of it," Valentine noted. And while he mediates for a full 45 minutes, Ferris said he aims for just 20 minutes, noting that it generally takes the first 15 minutes for his mind to fully quiet and to just be super present for those last five.
7. Do The Five-Minute Journal
Ferris also recommended five-minute journaling, in which you outline your goals for the day. This can be anything from more concrete things, like, "Outline the big presentation," to more inward, emotional-based goals, like being nicer to a family member or reacting more calmly to anger.
8. Create A To-Do List
After journaling, I personally recommend creating an actual concrete to-do list of what you need to get done and the order you need to do it in. I have always found that merely writing things down and seeing what needs to be done makes me feel calmer and like I already have a better handle on it.
9. Seven Minutes Of Exercise
Lifestyle author and business owner James Reinhart said to try to fit in just seven minutes of exercise every morning if you're not someone who's into an extended morning workout. "It's short enough that it won't impact the rest of your morning routine and long enough to shake off any residual sluggishness from the night before — including that extra glass of wine," he wrote. He also noted there are seven-minute workout apps you can download on your phone if you want a little guidance and structure.
10. Go Green
Reinhart also recommended starting your morning with a green juice or smoothie to really get things started. "You'll be shocked at the morning lift you can get from a green smoothie," he wrote, and noted that he blends, "one apple, one banana, one orange, a handful of spinach, half of a cucumber, any juice or coconut water on hand, a few cubes of ice and some flax seed. It's cheap, easy and energizing."
11. Go To Bed Earlier
OK, so this one isn't exactly a morning ritual, but it's incredibly important in helping you create one. It can be super tempting to stay up watching that Netflix series or scrolling through social media on our phone, but getting enough sleep has been scientifically proven to be one of the most important things we can do for both our physical and mental health. So do yourself a favor, and go to bed!
All too often, the first moments of our day are spent in a stressful frenzy. However, our morning time is just as important as any other time of day and should never be undervalued in terms of what it can do for us and our happiness. So wake up (literally), and start taking care of yourself!