Most mornings, I hit the snooze button multiple times—although I read it's one of the worst things to do—and struggle to get out of bed. When I’m finally ready to wake up, I lie there with my iPhone glued to my face and check emails or Instagram. Sometimes there’s an email or image that jolts me, unsettled and stressed, from my bed. This is not the best way to start a day, so I’ve decided to start practicing a morning ritual.
A morning ritual is something you do each morning to begin your day on the right foot—stress-free. It gives you a reason to get out of bed and sets the pace for the coming 24 hours. Over time, this routine could have a significant impact on your health and well-being. The ritual doesn’t have to take up a lot of time (simply 10 minutes will work). The key is to do it each morning first thing when you wake up. Interested in trying a morning ritual out? Here are 10 recommendations for beginning your day with positive energy.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
The creators of the Five Minute Journal, a fill-in-the-blank journal that instructs you to start your day by listing three things you are grateful for, believe that “gratitude is the opposite of depression and anxiety. It’s the conscious experience of appreciation of the gifts in our lives and the results are tangible.” By writing down what you are grateful for first thing in the morning, you’re thinking about the positive things in your life. The book also has you write down three things that would make today great and a personal daily affirmation.
If you’re not into writing what you are grateful for, consider free-form journaling. Morning Pages are 750 words of stream-of-consciousness writing done first thing in the morning. Write whatever you want. Anything and everything that crosses your mind. Writing in the morning synchronizes the coming day and can provoke, comfort, prioritize, or clarify your thoughts.
Stretch Your Body
It’s called a sun salutation for a reason, right? Going through the stretching motions of a morning yoga routine slowly wakes up the mind and warms up the body. You're saluting the morning sun! However, not everyone is into yoga, and if it’s not for you, find a 10-minute stretch routine you like on YouTube. When you wake up, drink your water and stretch your body. Stretching can improve posture, alleviate aches and pains, increase blood flow, and give you greater amounts of energy during the rest of the day.
A meditation routine that has you focus on relaxing breath and mindfulness is an awesome way to start your day. It's an incredibly beneficial daily practice, and there are countless meditation apps out there. Find the one that works best for you and stick with it.
Drink a Glass of Water First
Everyone knows the health benefits of drinking water, but according to Dr. David Duizer, drinking a glass of water is incredibly beneficial in the morning: “Without starting your day with adequate water intake we are likely to remain dehydrated for the rest of the day. Hydrating your cells with 1/2–1 liter of water first thing in the morning is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Drinking water first thing in the morning helps with mental clarity, energy, and mood.”
Send a Positive Message to Someone You Love
If you have a significant other that you live with, consider starting your day together. Tell your partner one thing that you love about them and have them do the same to you. Look into each other eyes and really connect. Into affirmations? Say them out loud to each other: “I am feeling healthy and strong today,” or “I have the knowledge to make smart decisions for myself today.”
If you have a child, you can also perform this same ritual with them. If you live alone, connect with a friend or loved one via text. Send a positive morning message to your best friend who lives in Virginia Beach or your cousin who just moved to the West Coast. Even your mom will appreciate a morning message of gratitude: “Good morning Mom, just thinking about you. I hope you have a fabulous day!”
Eat Breakfast, Mindfully
Everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not turn yours into a ritual? Don’t eat a piece of toast and jam as you hurry out the door. Instead, make yourself a soft-boiled egg, then sit at the table with a napkin and really enjoy the meal. If you love coffee, take the time to make yourself a mug of the good stuff. Then enjoy it! Be mindful of what you are eating or drinking. Don’t answer emails or browse your Facebook feed; simply eat breakfast. If you have children or a live-in significant other, you can connect with them over a shared morning meal.
Read a Book
Almost everyone I know has some sort of book beside their bed. What if you started your day by reading that book for 10 minutes? Science says that reading can chill you out, help keep your brain sharp, and alter your emotions by easing depression or making you more empathetic. So set a timer and just read. It will clear your mind. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a textbook, self-help book, or trashy novel, just read a book, or magazine, or newspaper—avoid reading on a computer screen or tablet—for 10 minutes.
Do Some Cleaning
Spend the first 10 minutes after waking up doing some power cleaning. Make your bed, hang or fold the clothes that are lying around your closet, sort out that stack of intimidating papers. Do a different task each morning, be it wiping down the coffee table or emptying the dishwasher. Focus on completing the task you are doing and set a timer. Once the 10 minutes are done, begin your day with a more clean surrounding and feeling like you've accomplished something right out of the gate.
Once you’ve been practicing your morning ritual for several months, you might find that it is easier to get up in the morning. You could even start waking up earlier to accomplish more from your daily routine. Whatever morning ritual you decide to do, make it a habit. Do it every day. Set up a routine. This is the key to a successful morning ritual—to habitually repeat it until you do it without thinking. Then it will become a comforting part of your life.
Harvard Medical School. The Importance of Stretching. September 25, 2019
Bal PM, Veltkamp M. How Does Fiction Reading Influence Empathy? An Experimental Investigation on the Role of Emotional Transportation. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(1):e55341. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055341