Did you know that the morning is one of the very few times you can truly dedicate to yourself each day? Even if just for a couple minutes, it’s the best time to set your intentions for the day and do a couple things for yourself.
For many of us (and I used to be in this bucket) we feel we only have enough time to jump in the shower, scarf down breakfast, and make a tea or coffee to go. In reality, it only takes a few minutes to do many of the below rituals, and may only mean waking up 10-15 minutes earlier. You can do that!
Why do morning rituals matter?
If you’re like me, you’re a giver. You put others before you. And you don’t leave much time for yourself. It’s a blessing and a curse all in one! But many times, that means we end up neglecting ourselves or saving ourselves for last, and that’s no way to live a truly happy life!
We need to treat ourselves just as well as we treat those we care for, and that’s where morning rituals come in.
The following rituals aim to center, ground, and uplift your mind and body. They reaffirm our commitment to ourselves. And when we commit to ourselves, we can better commit to others.
Here are 6 easy things you can start incorporating in your morning routine that take 10 minutes or less. Try them out one at a time and see which ones work best for you. Later in this post, I’ll explain the ones that work best for me, too, because we’re in this journey together!
1. Gratitude Journal
A gratitude journal is an awesome way to reframe our minds for positivity. Take a few minutes upon waking to write 3 things you are grateful for. It can be anything — from the house you live in, to the weather outside, to financials and even your health. Whatever comes to mind, write it down!
Then, a few minutes before you go to bed, write down 3 more things you are grateful for that day. Some days it may feel hard to come up with 3 things — I definitely feel this too — but these are the days that we actually need it most so that we can train our minds think positively, even if it’s about small things.
I recommend buying a special journal just for this. Make it fun — find a journal cover you really like and that makes you happy. I found a fun one at Marshalls.
This may sound like a strange recommendation because, of course you’re always breathing, but this ritual is all about deep, conscious breathing. You see, what happens when we feel stressed or rushed throughout the day, our breath becomes shallow. Long periods of shallow breathing can lead to a number of issues, namely lightheadedness, fatigue, rapid heart beating and general weakness. This is an area I’m constantly working on for myself, and I find that every time I take a few minutes to breathe deeply, I feel a world of difference — more alert, energized and calm.
Here’s an exercise to try, coined by Dr. Weil, called 4-7-8:
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
If you sit at a desk all day, this is especially beneficial to do, but it’s also helpful for those of you on your feet all day or who doing strenuous activity.
Right when you step out of bed, do a few of your favorite stretches. Maybe you stretch out your arms and shoulders if you’re prone to hunching over a computer. Maybe you do a few leg or hip flexor stretches. Maybe you do them all! Either way, this helps to wake up and loosen the body.
If you have the opportunity, try to stretch again around lunch time and again in the evening. As a bonus, try incorporating yoga into your weekly routine for even more stretching, breathing and relaxation!
Again, sounds like a simple tip but it does wonders for the brain. Here’s why:
If you smile often enough, you end up rewiring your brain to make positive patterns more often than it does negative ones. (source)
The best part is, you can smile during any of these morning rituals — while writing in your gratitude journal, when practicing your 4-7-8 breathing, or as you stretch.
Another thing I try to do each day which is even more powerful than I expected is to aim to smile at one stranger a day. More often than not, the smile is reciprocated and now two people’s days were brightened — mine and theirs. Happiness is contagious, so get out there!
5. Drink a full glass of water
Imagine if you didn’t drink anything for the next 8 hours of your day. You’d be pretty dehydrated. That’s what happens when we sleep, so as soon as you wake up, you need to rehydrate your body so it can function at optimal levels.
Our bodies are made up of 70 percent water, so we need to drink a lot of it! Not only will a glass of water upon waking instantly help to rehydrate you, it’ll also jumpstart your metabolism (by giving your organs the hydration they need to function), flush out toxins and fuel your brain with energy (our brains are 76 percent water).
In addition, water keeps us fuller longer. So drink a glass of water before each meal so that you don’t overeat and feel satiated until the next meal. That means less snacking (which might even mean a smaller grocery budget!), and can help you keep on track with weight goals.
6. Kickstart your digestion with lemon water + apple cider vinegar
If you love drinking liquids like I do, you can do this in addition to a glass of water. If two drinks might be too much for you at once, choose one or the other.
Lemons and apple cider are incredible digestive aids. They both are great detoxers (can aid in flushing out toxins really well), can help maintain appropriate levels of stomach acidity (a great thing for those of you with acid reflux — this actually single handedly stopped my acid reflux symptoms!), and help to kickstart your metabolism. That’s why it’s such a great drink to have in the morning. It sets up our digestive system for success throughout the day.
Implementing Your Morning Rituals
Remember, you don’t have to implement all of these at once, in fact, I recommend you start with 1-2. Find which ones work best for you, bring you the most joy, and feel manageable. Then, if you want more, keep adding!
What do I do?
I do a mix of 3-4 of these rituals each day. I always have a glass of water within 5 minutes of waking and I stretch. I then choose either journaling, breathing, or the lemon + ACV drink (mostly when my digestion is feeling sluggish and/or my acid reflux is trying to rear it’s ugly head). I still need to get better at smiling more often 🙂 but I’m getting better about doing it throughout the day and that works for me.
Back to You!
Let me know which of the above you try and what works for you! If you have other rituals you do each day that you want to share, please leave it in the comments below! I’m always looking to mix up my routine to keep things fresh, and readers here will appreciate new things to try as well!