What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Whether you start off your day by stretching your legs or checking your phone, understanding what works best for you is essential. Not only does a healthy morning ritual ensure a productive day, but it also gets you in the habit of incorporating self-care rituals that can benefit your life holistically. Considering that we are all different, our morning rituals should reflect this. For example, if you know you’re a night owl, but you continue to incorporate a routine where you have to wake up at the crack of dawn, you should reassess. On the flip side, morning birds should not be tempted to lounge in bed if the morning is the best time for them to be productive. Crafting the best morning rituals requires introspection, self-awareness, and a desire to experiment what early dawn tasks work best for you. Don’t worry if you don’t know where to start, because as always, I got you. Here are seven distinct morning rituals that are sure to give the start of your day an extra boost.
The best morning rituals usually hit at least one to two targets on the wellness wheel. The wellness wheel refers to the different aspects of wellness in your life. Although this is not an exhaustive list, the wellness wheel contains financial, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical, social, and environmental wellness. Using the wellness wheel before creating a routine enables you to visually grasp if your routine is benefitting the different areas of need in your life. Doing the best you can to guarantee your overall health makes for both a more productive and efficient life.
When most people think about environmental wellness, their minds wander to thoughts of the outside world. But what about the space that you inhabit? When growing up, my mother used to always have me make my bed in the morning. I was very much so my father’s child—scatterbrained, unorganized, and always thinking about my next move. My mom was from the South—she was big on manners, organization, and order. She insisted that making my bed every morning would set me on the right track for the day, and the older I became, the more it actually made sense. Clutter often serves as a barrier for individuals when trying to remain organized in their lives. It’s been said that outward clutter actually serves as a physical representation of what’s going on inside our minds. Due to this, one of the best ways to start the day is by making your bed. As simple as the task may be, making your bed can play a huge difference when it comes to starting your day on the right foot. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and helps keep your living area, and brain, in order.
We are the most stressed generation on record. We’re always on the go, to the point that oftentimes it feels like we don’t even have a second to stop and breathe. With patience becoming a lost art, and high-speed results being pushed on a daily basis, I challenge you to do something out of the ordinary. Take a deep breath, pause, and breathe deliberately. More specifically, start meditating. Meditating enables the mind to stop running for a second and allows it to be present. Sitting in a trance-like position while humming is not the only way to meditate. Formally, meditation is defined as the engagement in reflection. Thus, just taking five to ten minutes in the morning to stop, reflect, and re-center can serve as an early stress reducer. I began to use the app Headspace to start meditating in the mornings about four to five months ago. It’s been a game-changer, to say the least.
Journaling is another activity you can add to your morning ritual. Each morning I write in what I call my “Gratitude Journal.” We all go through ups and downs in life—no matter how happy or successful we may seem to be on the surface. Writing three to five things that I’m thankful for each morning in my Gratitude Journal allows me to start my day off on the right foot—from a place of gratitude. Instead of dwelling on what I’m frustrated about, I begin the day thinking about what I’m grateful for. It’s a 360-degree shift in mindfulness, all from journaling.
Living an active, fulfilling, and fun lifestyle typically involves spending some money. With 2020 just beginning, now is the chance for you to set aside some time and lay out your financial goals. One of the benefits of budgeting is that every day you start with a clean slate. Going over your monthly budgets for a short period of time before you start your day allows you to strategically plan the money that you’re spending that day, or that week. This is especially important for those of us that live in big cities and need to stick to our budget (yes, aimlessly ordering from Seamless or Grubhub every day will continue to kill us financially). Unlike carelessly spending money, early financial planning will save you a world of stress in the future. This is something that I have personally worked to become better at over the last couple of years since I live in a big city.
In the midst of our busy lives, we often forget to reach out to our loved ones. Hell, we’ve all done it. I’ve done it, and I know you’ve done it too. A huge project at work is due, and now all of a sudden your mom or dad hasn’t heard from you in over a month. You’re juggling so many projects that you’re overwhelmed, and because of it, you’ve ghosted your best friend for weeks on end. Time is limited, and life is short. Unfortunately, our loved ones and closest friends will not be here forever, so we need to cherish them while we can. Getting into the habit of sending an encouraging, or “I was just thinking of you” themed text message to friends and family upon waking is a simple yet profound way to let your core group know that you care about them. It takes only a couple minutes out of your morning, but you’ll thank yourself in the long-run. So will your loved ones.
Everyone learns differently. Some of us prefer learning from video courses, while others love reading text and highlighting. The data shows that tons of us love audio in the form of podcasts and audiobooks. The industry is currently booming. If you are a person who likes to learn in the morning, but you don’t necessarily want to engage in the physical act of reading or watching a webinar, invest some of that time in listening to podcasts. Listening to podcasts in the morning provides you with the intellectual stimulation you need to kickstart your day. Think of it like the morning paper, but advanced in format and functionality. Whether you are listening for pleasure or information, podcasts are a simple way to incorporate new and valuable information into your morning routine. My personal favorite podcast is titled “How I Built This,” hosted by Guy Raz on NPR. It’s a podcast that profiles startup founders and the stories of how their businesses came to be.
Last, but not definitely not least, engaging in exercise in the morning is a worthy ritual to add to your morning routine. One of the biggest issues people have with morning exercise is the actual act of getting up in the morning. But think about it like this: If physical wellness is important to you, getting up in the morning is the simplest way to get that box checked. Every time I workout in the morning, my day is energized in a way that only a workout can bring. Morning workouts have been known to give individuals more energy, improve mood, and lower blood pressure. Not to mention, if you work a job that requires you to be at the office all day, it’s much harder to make yourself workout after you get home.
Ultimately, the best morning routine is the one that works for you. I would try a few things, take notes on what works and doesn’t work, and keep switching it up until you find a flow that makes you productive and puts you in a good mood to start the day. Incorporating one, a couple, or all seven of these activities into your routine when you wake up can and will make a world of difference in your life. Morning rituals are not just about doing things to pass the time. Instead, a morning routine is about maximizing your productivity and ensuring that each day is better than the last. After all, if you study the greats in each and every field, they all say the same thing—It’s all about routine, baby.