The Power of a Morning Ritual (and Ideas to Create Yours)
Think back to this morning. How did you start the day? Did you jolt awake at the sound of your alarm, then hit snooze thrice? Or did you wake up feeling rested, easing into your morning with small activities that make you feel good?
We won’t deny – it does sometimes feel tempting to sleep in and only leap out of bed at the very last minute, getting ready for work in as little time as possible. But once you’ve had a taste of a slow, mindful morning without the stress of rushing, it’s hard to look back!
A good morning ritual can mean the difference between a productive day and a sluggish one. Below are a few ways it can transform your day:
- Productivity. By starting your day with a few simple tasks, the rhythm for your day is set. Simple things like making your bed can give you small but much needed feelings of accomplishment, which will boost your productivity for the rest of your day.
- Avoid mental fatigue. All of us only have a limited amount of energy and willpower which gets drained by decisions as the day goes by. Having a morning ritual eliminates decision-making, saving yourself energy for the remainder of the day. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Mark Zuckerberg wears the same thing every day – this is exactly why.
- You time. Rising before the rest of the world gives you time to yourself. This is your chance to take advantage of the quiet atmosphere before the hustle and bustle of the workday to centre yourself, get you in the right frame of mind and get organised.
If you’re not quite sure where you start, below are some suggestions of activities you can include in your morning ritual. There isn’t one morning ritual that works for everyone, so it’s a process of trial and error to find what works best for you.
We’d also add that you don’t necessarily have to do them all in one morning, especially if you’re just getting into a routine. Pick one or two to start, and build from there as you find what a system that works.
1. Wake up earlier
This is the hardest part, but also the most crucial for productivity and success. The world’s most successful people wake up incredibly early – Apple CEO Tim Cook wakes up at 3.45am every morning!
OK – you’re thinking that’s a little much. Don’t worry, that’s not what we’re suggesting.
Establishing a morning ritual doesn’t mean you have to rise at unearthly hours. It simply means setting aside a bit more time – about 45 minutes to an hour – each morning, before the rush of daily activity kicks in.
Fun fact: Studies have shown that hitting the snooze button actually makes you more tired, as the body doesn’t fall back into deep sleep in between snoozes.
2. Make your bed
Making your bed is like kick-starting your productivity for the day. It means accomplishing the first task of the day, which gives you a sense of control and achievement which will carry you through for hours.
3. Drink a green smoothie
If you’re not big on breakfast, consider a green smoothie before you head off to work. Not only does a greens drink in the morning help increase your daily vegetable intake, the antioxidants, carotenoids, B-vitamins and folic acid in the greens can help to improve mental clarity and focus, and the fibre assists with digestion and overall metabolic function.
You can throw in whatever vegetables and fruit you have in your fridge, but as the name suggests, focus first on the greens – think dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach and parsley – then add your fruits for some sweetness.
But if you’re thinking that’s a bit too much work (or you simply don’t have a blender!), a greens powder like Ora’s Organic Greens Superpowder+ is the easiest, most fuss-free way to get your greens in first thing – just mix it in water or a plant-based milk and you’ve got your smoothie!
There are so many benefits of meditation, but we like doing it in the morning for two reasons.
First, taking some time to sit quietly with your breath gives you a sense of stillness. When you start my day feeling calm and grounded, there’s a higher chance of your day following suit.
Secondly, no matter what kind of meditation you practice – breath, mantra or loving-kindness – the act of bringing your focus back to an anchor each time it wander exercises the brain’s “attention muscle”. This trains the brain to focus on demand, building up your capacity for focus when more important tasks come up.
5. Gratitude journal
It’s difficult to be happy when you’re constantly wanting things. So what gratitude does is rewire your brain to focus on the small wins.
By simply jotting down at least three things you’re grateful for each morning (even if you have to struggle to come up with them), you’ll start your day on a positive note as you gain new perspective on what really matters and what you truly appreciate in your life.
6. Identify 3 essential tasks
Without at least a loose plan, it’s easy to drift through your day without direction and end the day realising you’ve done a grand total of… nothing!
Your top three tasks should be urgent, important, or both, and should support your long-term goals and general direction in life. Identifying them helps you focus your day and gives you a clearer idea where your priorities lie.
Try to avoid writing down any more than three. You want to be realistic about your efficiency and the whole point is to feel like you’ve achieved something at the end of your day.
7. Wake your muscles up
The morning is an awesome time for exercise. Not only is it quiet and peaceful, you also burn up to 20% more body fat when you exercise on an empty stomach. You could go for a morning run, do yoga, hit the gym – anything that gets your blood flowing.
But of course, attending a yoga class or running around the neighbourhood can take quite a bit of time, so if you’re not ready for this yet, all you need is a short workout to get the body fired up.
8. Keep the phone on airplane mode
First of all, you really shouldn’t be sleeping with your phone off airplane mode! Studies have shown a strong link between mobile phones and brain cancer, so if you have to keep your phone next to you because of your alarm, turn it to airplane mode (that includes turning off WiFi and Bluetooth).
Resist the urge to check your emails, messages or scroll through your Instagram feed first thing in the morning. That way, you don’t get bombarded with input which scatters your focus, and you don’t start your day comparing your life to others’.
Change one thing at a time
The hardest part is getting started, so start slow and change just a thing at a time.
Begin by waking up a little earlier for a week, then maybe add in a 5-minute meditation next. Keep adding and experimenting with these different options, and eventually you’ll find the morning ritual that works best for you.
By sticking with this and starting your day well, you’ll ultimately create the life that you want, as opposed to simply being swept along by its demands and chaos.