While we can’t control everything that comes our way throughout the day, we can control how we start our day. Morning rituals set the foundation upon which you build your next 24 hours – both mentally and physically. You may be thinking, “I can’t add anything else to my to-do list.” But by intentionally taking even 60 seconds for yourself (try taking three deep breaths or quickly making the bed), you can steer your internal compass toward a happier, healthier and more productive day. The Be BETTER Life Challenge is to get up in the morning 15 to 30 minutes earlier then normal and create a morning routine that gets you ready for the day.
Last January – in the midst of the chaos that comes with completing a masters’ thesis – I began meeting with an ayurveda practitioner in an attempt to strike a work-school-life balance and approach my days from a place of calm. Ayurveda, which means “life science,” is a holistic approach to wellness through diet, lifestyle and mental health. The very first piece of advice from my practitioner was: “If you want to live your best days, you need to start with your mornings.” And boy, was she right.
I’ve pulled together a list of my favorite morning rituals. I try to “grab” from this list every morning. Some days, I make time for almost all of them. Other days, I’m just making the bed and drinking warm lemon water. And everyone’s different! One of my dear friends swears by hot coffee and 20 minutes of undisturbed Pinterest browsing time. Another tries to get in her 30-minute run before looking at her phone. Use these tips to inspire your own perfect morning and develop a wake-up routine that works for you.
- Wake up, brush teeth – I hope this makes everyone’s list!
- Make the bed – I am firm believer that this little activity sets the tone for a productive day. It's early, and look what you've already accomplished. Plus, it prevents me from jumping back in.
- Drink warm lemon water – This is like a mini detox first thing in the morning -- I crave it as soon as I wake up. The warmth is comforting and, to avoid shocking your system, it's good to drink liquids closer to your body temperature, especially during colder months. (Note: if you’re drinking tap water, use cold water from the sink and heat in the microwave or a teapot because hot water pipes often carry heavy metals from corrosion).
- Close your eyes for five to 10 minutes of deep breathing – This is one of my favorite morning rituals. I set my meditation iPhone app (Insight Timer) for anywhere from five to 20 minutes (I recommend starting with five), sit cross-legged, close my eyes, breathe deeply through my belly and focus on my breath for a few undisturbed minutes. Some doctors argue that meditation is the single most important thing you can do for your health! It may sound intimidating at first, but there’s no right or wrong in meditation. Read more on deep breathing and its benefits here.
- Stretch for 10 minutes on my yoga mat – It may not be much, but I find that dedicating just a little time to myself and my body in the morning does wonders for my mental state and my back. I try to get these 10 minutes in while the teapot is heating up.
- A quick shower and get dressed for the day – Even on days I’m working from home, I like to shower and dress for work before sitting at my desk. (And yes, this means changing into something other than my yoga pants).
- Make my favorite tea – My a.m. beverage of choice is a Moroccan mint green tea with frothed almond milk.
- Make a quick, light breakfast with some protein packed in – Today I cooked an egg in coconut oil, quickly sautéed kale and scallions and threw it all on top of quinoa from last night's dinner. Yum.
These rituals help me approach my work with energy, concentration, an internal smile and a relaxed mind. They help me feel armed for whatever the day may throw at me. As you say “hello” to 2014 – greet yourself with a new, realistic wake-up routine, and set yourself up for success every morning!