Much like creating your own self-care plan, creating a morning ritual is the practice of deliberately cultivating habits that support happiness and well-being. Mornings have the power to set the tone for our entire day. Ever notice how one bad thing in your morning can be the start of a truly awful day? The opposite is true as well. In fact, the best way to ensure a good day is by starting your day off deliberately choosing thoughts, feelings, and actions that support you ability to feel good. If your mornings are less than wonderful, then this guide is for you.
As each of us is different, no two morning routines are going to be the same, nor would they be of benefit if they were. As such, I encourage you to tweak and modify your morning routine based on what works for you. This guide is intended as a starting point with the hopes that it will encourage you to create your perfect morning. But above all else: try it!
Speak it Into Being
When you first wake up in the morning, your mind is a blank slate, and so is your day. Whatever it is you begin thinking about will be the foundation of your mood. Ever notice how the morning of a day with something exciting is particularly good? That's because your first thought upon awakening is filled with excitement and that sets the tone for your whole day. Conversely, thinking about all the things you need to do can fill your morning (and whole day) with stress.
Words too, have power. The first words of a book determine the rest of the book. So do the first words of your day. Thus, speaking a positive thought upon waking, has the dual benefit of focusing your mind and determining the tone for your day. I like to begin my day with a Wayne Dyer mantra by saying, "Today, a miracle is going to happen." If miracles aren't your thing, try saying something else like, "I'm so excited about today!" or "Today is going to be an amazing day." Whatever it is you choose, make it positive and uplifting.
Set Your Intentions
As the saying goes, if you don't know where you're going, how will you get there? The same is true of your day (and your life). Without any clear direction from you, your life is probably going to be a bit lost. Intentions are a great way to create a plan for how you would like your life to go. They're similar to affirmations in that they are positive, affirming statements designed to focus your mind on a beneficial outcome. Intentions, however, are stronger than affirmations as they are a blueprint for the outcome that you desire. They can be as specific or as vague as you like. They can even be completely grandiose, as long as they make you feel good when you say them. For instance one of my morning intentions is "I intent to be radiantly healthy" because I love the way that it sounds.
Set Your Mood
Choosing what to think about can go a long way towards setting your mood, but it can also take a little while to get there. I find it is helpful to spend some time deliberately focusing on things that make me feel good. And not just ok, but teary-eyed, happy with the world good. You can choose any activity that focuses your mind on appreciation. I like to write a page in my journal listing off things that I am grateful for or just absolutely love in my life. If journaling isn't your thing, try making a list out-loud by talking about all the things you're grateful for or loving right now. This is also a good time to pray or read a spiritual text or focus on a mantra.
If that's not your thing, you can try an Abraham Hicks "virtual reality" exercise. Close your eyes and imagine you are someplace that absolutely makes you happy. Indulge your senses for a few seconds until you are absolutely filled with bliss. You can even look at photos of baby animals. Whatever fills your heart with that happy ooey gooey feeling, go there.
Meditating is another great way to set your mood. Set a timer on your phone and spend five minutes focusing on your breathing, or on a mantra. There are plenty of guided meditations as well as meditation apps and videos available that can help you. This can easily be combined with or become part of your mood-setting happy place practice, or even your exercise practice.
Our bodies ave generally been still and un-moving all night long. As a result, many of us are stiff, if not sore in the morning. A stretching routine and/or some gentle exercise are the best way to loosen up muscles and get our lymphatic system flowing smoothly again. It's also a great way to wake up. I enjoy practicing yoga every morning, along with some other gentle stretching and mobility exercises. Tai Chi or Chi Gong is another excellent system of gentle movement that is perfect for mornings. Even simple joint isolation and rotations can help to improve your movement and wake you up. This can also be combined with mindfulness for a form of moving meditation.
Eat a Good Breakfast
It should go without saying that a good breakfast is essential to starting your day off right. By the time you wake up in the morning, your body has typically been fasting for about eight to twelve hours. That means it's desperately in need of fuel. Ever notice how children are more prone to meltdowns when they're tired? Although we learn to moderate our behaviour as we age, adults have the same chemical process happening when they're hungry. It's nearly impossible to be in a good mood if you're starving. So find what works for you. If it's a cereal bar while you wait in the carpool lane, or a banana and yogurt while you drink your coffee, or even a smoothie, eat something.
Listen to Uplifting Music
Music has so many brain and boosting benefits that we should probably listen to more of it than we do. But the type of music we listen to matters. Just like eating ice cream for breakfast isn't a good idea because of the sugar crash it will cause, listening to anything that isn't uplifting won't serve you well. I like to combine my morning music with spiritual practice and affirmations. I have a specific playlist I listen to every day that has several affirmation audios, the usnisa vijaya dharani, and a Cherokee morning song. I find these put me in the best possible place to start my day. Affirmation audios are a great morning music to listen to. If you enjoy spiritual or religious music, this would be an excellent time to listen to it as well. Honestly, anything that makes you feel good is great to listen to in the morning.
Follow Your Plan
Feel free to try different approaches. Read what other people are suggesting, trying what other people are doing. Experiment until you discover what really works best for you. And then repeat it until it becomes habit.