Hey ho. We’re going a little off the beaten track here today! So please indulge me for a minute while I talk about the importance of self-care.
Like them or lump them, they’re a critical part of your day. If your morning is slightly off, it sets the tone for the entire day. (Think of how hard it can be to shake a bad mood!) So taking the time to cultivate some self-care rituals can really set up your whole day to be happy, productive and healthy.
With that said, rituals are meant to be different for everyone. So this list is not one-size-fits all! But it is packed with self-love suggestions so that you can pick and choose what’s best for you.
10 Magical Morning Rituals to Jumpstart Your Day
1. Drink Lemon Water
There’s no better way to kick off your day than with a glass of lemon water. The average American diet is acidic while our bodies are naturally alkaline. Starting your morning off with some lemon water helps to “reset” your body to it’s naturally happy state. Lemon water has a host of other benefits as well: it’s a diuretic, immunity booster and it helps to hydrate the lymph system.
So before you eat or drink anything else, go to your kitchen and make yourself a glass. You can also tailor it to fit your personal tastes: warm or cold, sweetened with honey or plain.
2. Make Your Bed
I’m always talking about taking loving care of the space around you. Making your bed first thing might not seem fun but it’s actually a giant step towards taking responsibility for your space, your mental health and your life. You are creating positive change in your environment and putting the proof is right there in front of you. It’s a tiny action with big results. Not to mention when you come home at night you’ll be grateful to your morning self for having taken the time out for it. It only takes a few minutes so just suck it up and do it already.
3. Tea Ritual
Here’s some good news: mindfulness doesn’t necessarily require you to sit in meditation for 45 minutes every morning. One way you can bring mindfulness to your normal routine is simply to do the things you usually do with added care and intention.
A tea ritual just involves you making your tea in the morning like usual, but taking the time to truly be present at each and every step. Go slow. Notice what you’re doing. Then when the tea is ready, sit down and take a moment to be thankful for it before you begin to drink. Look at it. Smell it. Feel the cup in your hands. Drink it slowly. The idea is to really take the time to be there with your tea, no email or iPhones allowed.
4. Morning Pages
Morning pages is a concept put forth by author Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way. The practice simply involves sitting down and writing three full pages every morning as a way to keep your brain both creative and focused. The trick is that you don’t over think about what you are writing; you just write! This allows you to get out any personal problems or work stress etc – the things otherwise known as that mental chatter that can sometimes get in the way of our productivity. Allowing space for you to vent will make you more clear and focused throughout the rest of your day (and if you’re a writer like me, it also actually helps you to come up with new content). Cameron encourages handwriting your three pages but I prefer the modern day equivalent over at 750 Words.
Starting off the day with the right mentality really will help your whole day go more smoothly. If you wake up in the morning and your first thoughts are dread or worry, those thoughts tend to stick with you all day and in turn, color your responses to the world around you. (A self-fulfilling prophecy!) So even if you wake feeling down or stressed, it’s extra-important take a few moments to find something to be grateful for: your comfy bed, your partner, your clean running water, your favorite pair of shoes. We are always the happiest when we have a grateful mindset; a mindset of lack only creates drama and depression. You can write down each one or just think of them in your head. Gratitude works in every format.
You probably don’t need me to wax on about the importance of meditation. (But I’m going to anyway!) Meditation is an awesome tool for self-discovery and mental clarity. There’s that famous quote: Meditate for an hour every day unless you are too busy. In that case meditate for two hours.
Buddhist jokes aside, there’s a lot of truth to that statement. But I also recommend starting out where you can comfortably do. Back when I had a 9-5 job, I did quick 5 minute meditations in the morning (with a longer one at night). So you can truly work it into any schedule.
Meditation is just like any personal practice: there’s no one-size fits all. There are many different types of meditation you can experiment with: kundalini, Tibetan buddhist, mantra meditation etc. I personally love to flit between the different types so I encourage you to explore and find what best works for you.
7. Record Your Dreams
Dream work is one of my favorite forms of self-therapy. I really relish whatever happens to me during the night and I’ve kept dream journals and off since I was a teenager. Dream journals can help you to remember your dreams more clearly as well as to help analyze them. On a psychological level, they offer us a level of insight that can otherwise go missed. Having lots of dreams of being confined lately? You might need to adjust something in your outer world to change that. Writing them down as soon as you wake up is the best way to capture this important insight and to notice any patterns over time.
Shake off your morning stiffness by moving your body – at least a little bit! Of course working out in the morning is one of the best things you can do for yourself. But movement isn’t an all or nothing game! Science has shown that seven minutes of exercise is all it takes to reset and recharge. (There’s even a seven minute exercise app you can use specifically for this!) Of course any type of movement will do: gentle stretches, yoga or Pilates are some choices that might be a better match for your morning energy levels.
9. Set An Intention
Visualization is a completely different tool than meditation. But it also packs a powerful punch. When was the last time you sat down and set some intentions for your day? (Not regularly I bet!) Taking just a few moments to imagine your ideal day helps to actually make it come to fruition. So think on what it is you want for your day and visualize it! (Alternately, you can spend a few minutes visualizing one of your long term goals instead.)
10. Make Your 3 To-Do’s
I know your actual To-Do list is super long. But it’s pointless (and discouraging) to write down absolutely everything you need to do on any list. So to keep yourself happy, it’s a better idea to focus on your top three items for the day only. What absolutely needs to get done today? (Not next week or next month or just sometime soon.) Focusing on making those three wins early in the day sets you up to be insanely productive, instead of totally stressed out.
I hope these rituals serve you well and perhaps even inspire you to come up with your own. If you enjoyed this, please share it and if you have any questions feel free to let them fly in the comments.