I LOVE sleep.
Needing more than average, I’m the first to put my hand up and admit that I am NOT a morning person.
Unlike Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Magazine, who has played an hour of tennis by 6.45 a.m. before heading off to have her hair styled into her signature bob and on to the office by 9 a.m, I’m like an old car – it takes me time to warm up in the morning. But once I do, I’m off and motoring.
Life coach and self-help author Tony Robbins advocates jumping out of bed whilst yelling ‘yes yes yes’, and committing to an ‘hour of power’ every morning. Ariana Huffington, author, columnist, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, believes the key to a good morning begins with a good night’s sleep, morning meditation and NOT checking her smartphone.
You may not have the luxury of getting your hair styled each day, have time to fit in a workout at the gym every morning, or even be an early morning person, but here are some ideas to help you develop and hone your morning ritual.
12 Morning Rituals to Change Your Life
1. Plan and Prepare the Night Before
From laying out your clothes, ironing (if you must – personally, I try to invest in clothes that don’t need ironing), preparing your breakfast and lunch, to packing your bag, a little planning and preparation go a long way.
I’ve been trying to do this over the last 6 months, resulting in a more organised woman, who makes healthier food choices, and looks more put together.
- I shop for groceries so that I always have food and healthy snacks in the kitchen to take with me to work
- I prep breakfast the night before – a simple fruit salad with some coconut yoghurt helps me to start the day off the right way
- I make lunch the evening before
- I lay out the clothes I’m going to wear for the next day, right down to the underwear
- If I need to go somewhere new for a meeting, I look up my route and plan it out on Google maps the night before
- I pack my bag/s the night before as I will guarantee you that if I don’t, I WILL forget something the next day (This is coming from the girl who drove 40 minutes to work one day and left her laptop at home)
- I charged up my phone and laptop the night before (if I remember!)
- I’ve even started planning WHEN I wash and dry my hair, dependent on when I have key work meetings and networking events.
As a result, I’ve saved time, am less stressed, feel happier and healthier, and can focus on the day and week ahead.
2. Embrace your natural rhythm
Since leaving my career in project management, I’ve started to accept that it’s okay not to be an early morning person. I have also chosen to embrace my body’s natural rhythm and not fight it.
These days, I respect my body’s natural rhythm with anything I do, from work to fun. I also plan things in advance, which is a great way to manage my fatigue. For example, if I have a networking event in the evening, I always schedule some downtime the next day as I know I will be fatigued.
What is your body saying to you? Are you an early morning person, or do you work best into the evening? Perhaps you need to fit in an afternoon siesta now and then!
3. Prioritise sleep
How much sleep do you need to feel rested and ready to take on the day? 5, 7 or 10 hours?
We all have different sleep needs, and that’s okay. Work out how many hours of sleep works best for you and design your sleep and life pattern to fit. That includes sticking to a standard ‘bedtime’ and trying to unplug 2 hours before going to sleep.
4. Make Your Bed
Treat your bedroom as the sacred space you deserve.
Dedicate your bedroom to rest and relaxation (and sex), not technology, work and stress.
By keeping your room tidy and bed made, you will thank yourself later when you are ready to go to bed for the evening and are welcomed with a nicely made, welcoming bed.
I’ve been trying this for the last few months – making my bed as soon as I get out of it – and it’s changed the vibe of our bedroom – which is no longer messy and cluttered but now tidy and inviting. To be honest, I didn’t think I would stick with it, but I have, and even hubby has noticed!
Note to those who work from home: this also removes the temptation of falling back in an unmade bed throughout the day!
Treat your bedroom as the sacred space you deserve.
5. Stretch Your Body
Treat your body with kindness.
Incorporate gentle stretching into your morning routine – even if it’s just 10 minutes every morning, every bit helps.
I recommend Hatha Yoga. It’s a gentle form of yoga stretching ideal for the morning. This will help ease any kinks in your body and wake up gently. I’ve recently discovered a love for YouTube yoga classes – there is an abundance of them!
6. Set your intention for the day
By setting your intention for the day, you are making a conscious decision about what you want to do and what your day will look like.
It’s your choice. Will your day be average and stressful, or joyful and productive?
Choose your mood – be it an attitude of gratitude or something else!
You can also incorporate intention-setting into your daily meditation session. It’s as simple as focussing on your intent for the day or wrapping up your meditation session by setting your intention for the next day.
7. Drink Water
Kick-start your digestion by drinking a lukewarm glass of water with the juice from half a lemon on rising. It works wonders – just be ready to pee… a lot!
8. Meditate Before Getting Stuck Into the Day
Start by setting aside 10 minutes each morning to sit in stillness, slowly extending to 20-40 minutes each day for the greatest effect. Your body, mind and soul will thank you for it.
Choose what works best for you. There are many ways to meditate, be it visualisation, mindfulness, transcendentalism, or prayer. There are plenty of tools, including Podcasts, Apps, YouTube videos and music (and don’t forget silence!).
My favourite Apps: I rely solely on Podcasts these days, but in my early days, I found Meditation Oasis a great way to start meditating.
9. Eat breakfast
Are you a breakfast skipper like me?
Breakfast is generally one of the first things to fall by the wayside in a busy schedule but it’s true what our parents used to say – breakfast IS the most important meal of the day.
Build some time into your day to sit down to slowly eat a healthy breakfast ( incorporating some protein if you can). And I stress the slow part. Spend time mindfully eating your breakfast, savouring what you are eating – the taste, smell and texture. This will help you to start the day relaxed and give your body time to digest.
If you don’t have the time for breakfast, prepare some portable breakfasts over the weekend for the week ahead. Hit up Pinterest and create a breakfast pinboard to keep inspired! Frittata, quiche, bacon and egg cupcakes, bagged ingredients for protein shakes…go to town!
What’s your favourite healthy breakfast recipe for people on the go?
10. Get Moving
In true Anna Wintour style, you could hit the courts for an early game of tennis, head out for a run, cycle, or workout at the gym, or partake in something much more gentle such as hatha yoga, pilates or swimming.
Needless to say, incorporating any form of movement into your morning ritual will help banish that brain fog and kick-start your body into action.
I had my first walking meeting a few weeks ago in a scenic park, and it was 1)productive, 2) positive, 3) fun, and 4) refreshing! I don’t believe I’d EVER walked away from a meeting feeling like that before!
So if you have any meetings scheduled in the morning, why not change it up and head outside for a walking meeting? You will be amazed at how focussed and productive they can be!
11. Set Yourself a Technology curfew
Lying in bed scrolling through your email accounts or Facebook feed to see what’s happened before going to sleep or before getting out of bed in the morning … We’ve all done it… more times than we’d like to admit. Constantly being connected has become a real problem for many of us, including myself.
I’m a BIG believer in technology curfews and setting boundaries, especially since burning out from email, overwork and social media.
But where do you start?!
To curb this problem I:
- Implemented a technology curfew after admitting I was a social media and email addict. These days I try to go ‘unplugged’ between the hours of 7.30 p.m and 7.30 a.m
- I removed my work email from my phone. I also tried consolidating some of my 5 email accounts – talk about stress relief!
- Some days I leave the house WITHOUT my phone. After the initial FOMO, I find this LIBERATING
- I don’t check my work emails on the weekend anymore unless there’s an event or emergency
- Set boundaries about when I was and wasn’t available. I also communicated these to the relevant people
- I turned off every notification on my phone – aside from my morning alarm.
This is one of my favourites 🙂
As Thich Nhat Hahn writes in The Miracle of Mindfulness:
Half-smile when you first wake up in the morning. Hang a branch, any other sign, or even the word “smile” on the ceiling or wall so that you see it right away when you open your eyes. This sign will serve as your reminder. Use these seconds before you get out of bed to take hold of your breath. Inhale and exhale three breaths gently while maintaining the half-smile. Follow your breaths. Thich Nhat Hahn
Have you tried any of these morning rituals yourself?
What has and hasn’t worked for you?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, tips and resources!
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