"Having some sort of structure to the start of your day is key to living a life that counts.” ~ Sarah Wilson
Have you ever noticed that what you do in the morning shapes how you feel and act for the rest of the day?
I know there are days when I’ve snoozed my alarm for as long as possible, dragged myself out of bed and reached immediately for the coffee. No time to pause to check how I am feeling, how I want my day to go and where I intend to invest my energy. On those days, I generally end up feeling sluggish (drinking more coffee), unproductive (plowing through emails but never getting to the important stuff) and often a little bit low and frustrated with myself and the world in general.
In contrast when I make time for myself in the morning (even just 10 minutes) everything feels different. I may come across the same opportunities and challenges but my attitude and approach to them is completely different.
When I make time for myself in the morning to notice how I am feeling and set an intent for how I want to feel by the end of the day, I find that I flow through my day with more ease, focus and grace for myself and others. When I move and nourish my body first thing, I continue to make better and more nourishing choices throughout the day, not just about the food and drink I put in my body, but also about the people I connect with and the work I focus on (yes I get to the big things that make a difference not just the emails). Not only am I more productive, but I tend to find more time for myself throughout the day too - a short walk at lunchtime or a swim after work.
What are the morning rituals that make the biggest difference to me?
Four simple things: breath, intention, movement, nourishment.
Breath: as soon as the alarm goes off I take ten deep, conscious breaths. I use these breaths to draw my focus inwards and notice how I feel in that moment. Am I tired? Nervous? Excited? No judgement, just an awareness and a welcoming of my experience as it is. When I do this first thing, I am able to stay more connected throughout the day.
Intention: I set a clear intent for how I want to feel that day, and the things I am going to do that will enable me to feel that way. This is something I’ve been learning from Danielle Laporte. Her philosophy is that we don't actually chase goals, we chase the feeling that we think achieving the goal is going to give us. So knowing how we want to feel is the most potent clarity you can have. This has been seriously game-changing for me. When I’ve got time, I’ll write my intention down in my journal along with other thoughts and feelings about the day ahead. When times is short I find its enough just to make a mental note.
Movement: for me this is always a yoga practice. Sometimes long, sometimes short, I use this time on my mat as way to continue to explore how I am feeling and embody my intention for the day. Getting outside in the fresh air is also a priority. This might be standing at my front door and breathing in the fresh morning air. On good days its a walk or run in the park, taking time to notice the beauty of the day. Even when its pouring with rain in Glasgow, which it frequently is. I’m learning to love the rain too!
Nourishment: this involves rehydration, good nutrition and pleasure. I have sluggish digestion so starting with hot water with fresh lemon and ginger, and a dash of cayenne pepper helps to kick start my digestive fire. It also creates a more alkaline environment in my body, which means better gut health. I also enjoy a morning coffee, one of life’s simplest pleasures. For me nourishment is about more than just healthy eating, it's also about finding pleasure in the food and drink I choose. I try to make my breakfast ritual a mini-meditation, savouring the smell, texture and taste.
Probably the most important part of these morning rituals, and I can’t emphasise this enough, is that I do all of this before checking my phone, before going online, before listening to the radio or switching on the television. I ensure that I am internally focused and prepared, before turning my attention and awareness outside.
If you don’t currently have a morning routine, why not try it for the next week and see what difference it makes to your day. If you think you don’t have any time, could you try simply taking five to ten deep breaths when you wake up? I’m sure you’ll also be amazed by how creating a little space in the morning, actually helps you to be more productive and focused with your time throughout the day.
If you’ve already got an established morning routine, I’d love to hear what works for you. The more we share our experience and wisdom, the wiser we all become.
Thanks for reading! Have a beautiful day!