When you think of morning rituals, you might think of having a cup of coffee, taking a shower, putting on makeup, and heading out the door to work. This is commonplace, but adding just one extra step to your routine could change your entire day for the better. Here are nine morning rituals you might want to consider.
Meditation and mindfulness exercises are fantastic morning rituals because they help you find your center before your day even begins. If you start your day with a scattered brain and numerous thoughts running through your head, chances are pretty good you won’t be productive. Clearing your mind can help you achieve more of your daily goals, and it can help you feel happier, as well.
To meditate, simply sit quietly and focus your mind on one single thing for five to 10 minutes. If you find your mind wandering, don’t fret – immediately bring it back to your focus. Mindfulness exercises work in much the same way, except you’ll pay attention to your senses rather than a thought or object. Think about the sounds you hear, the temperature in the room, or even the way your clothing feels on your skin. This centers you in the present and helps you avoid thinking about the past and future.
Sometimes, the best way to get your day started is with rigorous exercise. You might think that cup of coffee is going to wake you up and help you feel more alert, but it can’t compare to a brisk jog, a few jumping jacks, or even a power walk with your dog. Recent research suggests that only one-third of American adults engage in regular exercise, even though studies have proven it’s one of the best ways to rid yourself of depression, anxiety, and even stress. Getting your blood pumping will help you feel more alert since more oxygen and nutrients are being delivered to every single cell.
Protein is important for many reasons, so if you’re someone who regularly skips breakfast, this should be one of your most important morning rituals. While there’s no magic number that suits everyone, aim to get about 30 grams of protein in your morning meal. Why? Protein helps trigger satiety hormones, which will keep cravings at bay until at least lunchtime. What’s more, protein is important for the creation of everything from muscle fibers to neurotransmitters, which will help you do your job more efficiently, no matter what that job might be.
Take some time to pull out your journal and make a list of your life goals, both short-term and long-term. If you don’t have a journal, consider starting one immediately – writing things down is a great way to destress from a long, exhausting day. Take some time each morning to look over your list of goals and reflect. This way, you’ll start your day off with direction, and more of the choices you make throughout your day will influence meeting those goals.
Many people feel tired, stressed out, anxious, and even depressed because they feel as if their lives have no meaning. Taking the time to reflect on your goals each morning is a reminder that your life is driven by purpose and that there are things you want to accomplish. Of all the morning rituals, this is one of the most powerful. It can change not only one day, but the rest of your life.
Positive affirmations are simple statements that remind you of your best qualities. You can find thousands of affirmations online, and your goal should be to recite some before you even get out of bed. “I am feeling happy, healthy, and strong today.” “I will work my hardest and reach my goals today.” While it may seem silly, these positive affirmations are powerful enough that they can completely change the course of your day. Better yet, take some time to write positive affirmations on sticky notes before you go to bed, then stick them to areas you’re likely to visit in the morning. Your coffee maker, your bathroom mirror, and even your computer screen are all great choices. For the best results, be sure to recite them out loud.
Everyone is guilty of tapping the snooze button on the alarm clock now and then, but there’s evidence to suggest that those few extra minutes of sleep aren’t benefitting you. In fact, they may actually be making things worse. In fact, a study published in Clinical Medical Insights in Circulatory, Respiratory, and Pulmonary Medicine focused on high school students who used alarm clocks and regularly hit the snooze button. The study showed that students who hit snooze tended to perform more poorly than their counterparts who awoke the first time the alarm sounded. Even more interesting, students who didn’t rely on alarm clocks at all performed better still.
Your body’s circadian rhythm will tell you when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to rise, but it’s up to you to pay attention. Hitting snooze “resets” your body’s rhythm, which has negative effects on everything from your hormones to your mood. For 30 days, go to bed at the same time every single day, even on weekends, and wake up at the same time every single day. Then, the next time you have no morning obligations, turn the alarm clock off. There’s a good chance you’ll discover that you don’t need your alarm anymore, after all. Your body knows what to do.
While you sleep, your body is hard at work creating new neural pathways, repairing muscle tissue, and digesting your dinner. All that work takes its toll, so by the time you wake up, you’re quite dehydrated – even if you don’t notice it. While a glass of water is a great way to start your day, these morning rituals are even more beneficial if you try a water infusion, instead (coffee bean infusions don’t count!). Some great infusions include the following:
If you don’t step outside in the morning until it’s time to get in your car and head to work, you’re doing your body a terrible disservice. Once again, thanks to your body’s natural circadian rhythm and built-in primal instincts, there’s nothing more refreshing than a jolt of sunlight. What’s more, if you’re not getting enough vitamin D, otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin, then there’s a good chance you’re feeling fatigued and your body isn’t absorbing dietary calcium as it should.
Need another reason to make this one of your most beloved morning rituals? Studies have confirmed that regularly connecting with nature can improve mental cognition as well as relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. A research paper out of Stanford University showed that volunteers who started their day with a quick stroll through nature spend the rest of their day happier and less affected by common stressors.
This is probably the hardest of all the morning rituals to follow, but it’s also one of the most important. Many people wake up in the morning and turn on the TV, scroll through Facebook on their phones, or even start replying to emails. If there’s any way you can avoid this, you should. Often, the news (and Facebook, for that matter) are fraught with negativity that can impact your mood before you’ve even gotten out of bed. What’s more, replying to emails before you’ve had a chance to take care of yourself creates problems of its own. Skip the electronics in the morning, and instead focus on one of the rituals listed above. You’ll feel happier for it the very first day.
For some people, waking up is hard to do. However, with the right attitude and the right morning rituals, you can completely change your outlook on life and enjoy every day more than the one before – even if you’re at work. Things like positive affirmations, a protein-rich breakfast, and even a quick stroll in the sunlight are more powerful than you might think. Give them a shot tomorrow morning and see what kind of difference they can make in your life.