Do you find that you barely have enough time to brush your teeth and get dressed each morning, and that you're often already frazzled by the time you walk out the door? If the answer is yes, you may be in need of a regular morning ritual. And by "ritual" I don't mean an hour-long silent meditation session, or a trip to your local hot yoga studio before the sun rise — I simply mean a small task, or a few small tasks, that you do every morning to help ground and center you for your day.
In thinking about morning rituals, I was able to connect with Kaushal Dugar, the founder and CEO of Teabox, a company that distributes fresh tea varieties from India in the form of a monthly subscription service (think Birchbox, but with delicious and unique tea varieties). Dugar is not only an expert on teas, but is also experienced in the importance of morning rituals in our lives.
"It’s been said that having a dedicated routine from the moment you wake up sets a positive tone for the rest of the day and even makes people happier and more productive," Dugar writes to Bustle via email. "Additionally, morning routines bring about a sense of calm and can reduce anxiety. Mornings are the perfect time to establish this 'zen mode' – focus in on your priorities, set your intentions and start the day on a high note."
If you're feeling like your mornings are getting out of hand, here are five tips from Dugar that will help you establish a calming routine.
1. Give Yourself Ample Time
Step one may sound hard, but it's more than worth it: wake up early enough to give yourself time to actually take a moment for yourself. "There’s nothing worse than being rushed through your morning ritual, especially if you’re using this time to prepare for the day ahead," Dugar says. "It can induce anxiety and throw off your focus for the rest of the morning or even the entire day. [...] The goal is to not feel rushed, which may mean you need to start setting your alarm a few minutes earlier."
2. Map Out A Plan
Dugar also stressed the importance of figuring out exactly how much time you'll need for each task in your ritual beforehand, as that way you'll feel secure in the fact that you won't be rushed. "Make sure that you have a plan and map out your routine. Know how much time you need and allow adequate time to accomplish everything you want to do," Dugar says.
3. Stick To It For At Least Several Weeks
Dugar noted that one of the hardest parts about a morning ritual isn't planning it — it's sticking to it, especially if, "you’re waking up earlier than you’re used to or adding some sort of physical activity." Dugar recommends really challenging yourself to do your routine every morning until it becomes habit.
4. Start Small
This is what I consider to be one of Dugar's most important tips: starting with something manageable and achievable. "Whether that is simply making your bed, journaling for a set amount of time, exercising or enjoying a cup of tea, pick just one thing and start going through this routine every morning," Dugar says. You'll end up reaping way more rewards by setting realistic goals for yourself.
5. Embrace Seemingly Mundane Actions
Dugar notes that one of the reasons he prefers tea to coffee is that it lends itself so well to ritual. "Tea is calming, cleansing and meditative," Dugar says. "You can’t just grab it go, especially loose leaf tea. The steeping process is incredibly methodical and forces you to slow down and focus as you measure out the tea, let it steep and then add any accompanying ingredients (milk, honey, etc.). Making and enjoying a cup or pot of tea becomes a routine in and of itself, allowing you to take a moment to yourself."
A morning ritual doesn't have to entail turning your entire morning upside down. Just allow yourself a few extra minutes a day to focus on something as simple as brewing tea — odds are you'll notice a big difference almost immediately.
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