Have you noticed your morning routine slipping away recently? While I am definitely not a morning person, I do normally take pride in being productive and organised. Maybe it’s the winter weather but I find the snooze button is getting a lot more action lately! And when that happens, usually I find that I end up having a less-considered breakfast and often skip my morning exercise. As we leave winter and spring into spring, I’ve explored some ways that I’ve found help me maintain my morning routines so that I can kickstart my day on a more positive note!
Routine or Ritual?
After doing some reading on the topic, I learned how important it is to distinguish routine from ritual. Routine is often viewed as a mundane to-do list, which can erode over time as motivation wanes. Rituals, on the other hand, can generate better engagement and become embedded in our lives as they are tied to a greater sense of purpose. So step 1 - reframing the start of my day with a morning ritual – rather than a morning routine, that is personal and full of purpose! Being fortunate enough to have a beautiful east-facing view of a nature reserve, it seemed like a great place to start. So rather than simply having breakfast, I have now created a morning ritual of enjoying breakfast while taking in my surrounds– and it’s something I very much look forward to.
Nail the Morning Wake-up Time
Feeling rested and ready for the new day is a great way to kick off the morning. How many hours of sleep you need varies from person to person. I’ve worked out my optimal length of sleep is 7 or 8 hours so planning my bedtime based on my intended wake-up time is crucial in maintaining my energy level throughout the day. This actually meant staying up a bit later than usual, allowing me to spend more time on my bedtime rituals!
Make the Bed
Making the bed is a simple way to create a sense of achievement. For a few minutes of effort, it is a proven way to inject positivity into your day. A 25 year study of over 5,000 highly-successful people found that many happy and high-performing professionals all had this in common. There’s a lot to be said about an unmade bed, I know I feel a sense of uneasiness when I see my covers all over the place with unfolded laundry on the top!
Exercising in the morning has many benefits but with everything that I need to do before work, I can usually only manage 15 minutes or so. It may seem futile, but what a world of difference that daily short expulsion of energy makes for my mood! If you’re struggling for motivation in the morning, I suggest getting your exercise clothes ready the night before so it’s the first thing you slip into when you get out of your PJ’s (which will help in habit forming behaviour). Any sort of exercise is going to have a benefit to your physical and mental health, but a really easy and accessible way to manage this in the morning is through yoga.
I tend to eat the same thing every day and that can make breakfast a little bit dull compared to other meals. But it doesn’t have to be and it is certainly one of the easier things to prepare in advance. Slightly controversial philosophy here, but there are many benefits to eating carb and sugar-laded foods in the morning as opposed to later in the day. But before you reach for Coco Pops and Pop Tarts, what I’m suggesting is that you open your mind to the idea of breakfast as a healthy treat. Think pancakes with berries and fresh orange juice. Don’t have time? I assure you that pancake mix can be made in advance, and I guarantee that it is quicker than making a piece of toast. See for yourself! If it’s something to look forward to, there can’t be much harm in adding small daily indulgence to your morning ritual!
Check Priorities for the Day and Make a Plan
A bad start to the day often means that I forgo my usual day planning, resulting in missed calls and meetings as well as all sorts of unpreparedness. This makes me feel stressed, guilty and it takes more time and effort catching up than preparing properly in the first place. So take 10 minutes as you login to your work and assess the day ahead, and create series of must-do tasks.
Morning rituals can help you be successful, provide purpose, and reduce stress. The key is to be clear on the purpose of each of your rituals, be mindful and enjoy the process rather than focusing on getting it done. Make it personal to you and what you deem important. As it’s often said, “life is about the journey, not the destination”. Enjoy the morning rituals you create for yourself.
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