“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive —to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius
Ahh, the beginning of a new day. Being able to ease my way into the day is a luxury I don't take for granted and the time I carve out for myself has become a sacred time for introspective work, whether it’s two minutes or 20 if I’m lucky and the babe is snoozing. Whatever your daily responsibilities are, whether caring for a child or being pressed for time to get to work, taking the slow approach in getting up is proven to increase feelings of happiness as well as aiding in productivity levels during your day.
About five years ago, I decided to make mornings a joyful experience rather than a dreaded one. Even though I was technically able to roll out of bed whenever I wanted, I decided to limit my use of the snooze feature and plan beautiful rituals to look forward to. According to Kenneth Wright, a neuroscientist and chronobiology expert, “Cognition is best several hours prior to habitual sleep time, and worst near habitual wake time.” Translation: our brains take far longer than we might expect to get up to speed (which explains why we sometimes do silly things in the mornings: put an empty cup in the fridge, use the wrong product for the wrong thing, pour milk over something milk isn't supposed to be poured over, etc.). So as much as we can help it, it’s best not to rush to do much right after waking up and rather let our brains play catch up with our bodies. An article in The New Yorker put it beautifully, "... taking our waking slow, without the jar of an alarm and with the rhythms of light and biology, may be our best defense against the thoughtlessness of a sleep-addled brain, a way to insure that, when we do wake fully, we are making the most of what our minds have to offer."
In addition to brain function, taking it slow in the mornings sets up the vibe and pace for your entire day. "Positive attitudes create great days, and the best time to generate positivity is in the morning. In those precious early hours, we establish our mindset for the entire day, so it’s important to treat this critical period with attention and respect," said Amanda Kohr in an article for Wanderlust.
Do you have any morning ritual in place already? If so, wonderful! Perhaps you’d like new ideas to add to your morning routine! If you’re a wake-up-and-go type person, then you might want to start thinking about at least trying one or a few of these. This is coming from someone who used to highly dislike mornings because they represented the simple fact that I shouldn’t be in bed, as stipulated by social standards. As you begin your journey in reinventing your mornings, you’ll [hopefully] start feeling more pleased with yourself, more acceptance toward others, more graceful toward external factors and maybe you'll notice yourself feeling happier in general. As we all know, happiness is the toughest antidote to stress, so the more happiness I produce through morning rituals and the lifestyle it encourages, the less stress that’s able to penetrate my psyche.
Here are a few other ideas for how to start this wonderful habit as listed and described on Wanderlust:
Light a candle. Sometimes even the simplest change can alter a room’s energy. Take the time to light a candle before you get ready, and enjoy the enhanced ambiance that you’ve created.
Lemon water. Hot lemon water aids in digestion and provides a plethora of vitamins and nutrients. Your mind will love this moment of serenity and your body will thank you, too!
Embrace nature. Regardless of where you live, taking the time to enjoy a bit of nature can help establish a positive outlook and a deeper relationship with the earth. Walk around the block, or spend a few minutes tending to a garden.
Read. Rather than scroll through your phone, spend a few minutes in the morning reading through a book or magazine. The activity stretches the imagination and encourages creativity and positivity, setting you up for a wonderful rest of the day.
Take a bath. If you have the time, a bath is a delicious way to begin your morning. The warm water eases sore muscles, and you can play around with essential oils, such as lavender or lemon, that are known to encourage feelings of peace and serenity.
Wash your face. Washing one’s face is essentially purifying one of your most vulnerable features. Feeling clean can lead to confidence, and the actual act of washing, scrubbing, and exfoliating creates an intimate and mindful experience.
Journal. This simple activity encourages self-reflection. Even on bad days, journaling allows us to vent and gain some perspective regarding our current situation. If you’re feeling creative, journaling can help the sparks flow and rejuvenate the imagination, leading to a more productive and inspiring day.
Make your bed. Making the bed is a mindful routine that helps enhance a room’s overall aesthetic, making it feel more inviting upon your return. It also takes little to no time — ideal for those of us in a hurry.
Indulge in a sweet fix. Sometimes I like to have a breakfast appetizer or dessert, and pair a piece of dark chocolate with my coffee or tea. This little treat provides an act of self-love, and can help transform an average Tuesday morning into a divine experience.
Set intentions. While our days are often clouded with to-do lists, setting small, personal intentions can help establish a feeling of control. Ask yourself, What do I want out of this day? Maybe it’s to be nicer to strangers, or to pay more attention to your partner.
Make a gratitude list. Gratitude leads to happiness. In addition to exploring your thoughts, take the time to write down one or two things you are grateful for. Whether it be your partner, your body, or nourishment, noticing your blessings inspires feelings of overall well-being.
Pick a treat. Give yourself something to look forward to. Maybe it’s a frozen coffee drink, a bubble bath, or happy hour with a friend. Either way, a small little present can help make you feel more enthusiastic about tackling the day’s challenges.
Self affirmations. We don’t tell ourselves “I love you” nearly enough. Plant yourself in front of the mirror and say the affirmations that you need to hear. These simple daily reminders will remind of your potential, leaving you feeling open and excited.
Choose one option that resonates most with you. Give it a shot for a week and move forward from there! Give yourself grace during this period of experimentation as adding rituals is just like any other habit - they take time to stick - so don't be too hard on yourself [ever].
My wish for you is of bountiful mornings of bliss, serenity and positivity. I'd love to hear some of your morning rituals and your experience as you try new ones. Please comment below to share your journey with me!
Sending you all lots of love,
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