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How (and Why) to Easily Fit a Morning Ritual into Your Life
“My morning ritual gives me a chance to clear my mind of everyone else’s priorities for me. … I’m not being shaped by the forces around me; I’m shaping my world from my mind and heart.”
– Anna Kunnecke, life coach and mother of five, chapter 5, A Beautiful Morning: How a Morning Ritual Can Feed Your Soul and Transform Your Life
Do you crave a sense of calm amidst the chaos of daily life? Paying attention to yourself each morning can help, and you can do it quickly and easily.
Many of us race from obligation to obligation, prioritizing everyone’s needs over our own. It’s certainly necessary to take care of our families and other responsibilities, but it’s equally necessary to take care of ourselves. There are many valuable methods of self-care; one of the most effective I’ve found is a morning ritual.
Why a Morning Ritual?
Being mindful in the morning is a direct path to connection with our inner voice. It also sets the tone for the day. If we can center and nourish ourselves first, we can create a sense of calm that will stay with us, helping us navigate the ups and downs more easily. This can have an incredibly positive impact on our lives.
A morning practice can seem like one more thing to fit into an already crowded day, however. You may think of it as a luxury you can’t afford, especially if you have children at home or a job for which you have to get up early.
But the truth is, it’s a “tooth-brushing moment,” as writer Keri Wilt described it when I interviewed her for my book on morning rituals, A Beautiful Morning. Taking the time to focus on yourself is as vital to your wellbeing as taking the time to brush your teeth.
Short Rituals Are Still Effective
The good news is that your ritual doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming; even a short, simple practice can be transformative.
“Creating the space to connect with ourselves is about getting in touch with what our genuine needs are, and what we need to feel more alive. … Sometimes what we need could be just five minutes of sitting in bed before we do anything, and that can be a powerful morning practice.”
– Koelle Simpson, horse whisperer and Equus coach, chapter 19, A Beautiful Morning
Try These Ideas
Here are some ideas for even the busiest schedule.
- Wake up just ten minutes earlier. This can be surprisingly easy, especially if you tend to hit the snooze button after your alarm goes off. You can use this “bonus time” to meditate, do some yoga, or write morning pages.
- If you only have five minutes, you can still meditate, stretch, or read some affirmations.
- Is one minute all you can spare? Practice deep breathing, and add a bit of meditation if you like by silently repeating a word, such as “peace.” Even a sixty-second break can make a huge difference in how you feel. Try it now—go ahead, I’ll wait. There. Feel a little calmer and more focused?
But if even that seems like too much, simply pausing before you get out of bed to stretch and breathe deeply once or twice can center you. This is how I started out, when I first wanted to create a morning ritual but wasn’t willing to wake up any earlier. Instead of immediately jumping out of bed, I lay there for just a few breaths, tuning in to my body and drawing my knees to my chest to stretch out my back. I was astonished at how much better I felt when I did this.
You can also repurpose a morning activity that you already do. For example, try incorporating a gratitude practice while brushing your teeth or showering. This is so easy: just make a mental list of what you’re grateful for.
As you probably know, cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been shown to have enormous benefits: it enhances physical health, psychological health, mental strength, and self-esteem. Focusing on what’s good in your life is a wonderful way to start each day with a positive mindset.
“I used to wake up and think about work right away, which was stressful. Now I’ve created this habit of being thankful first thing instead, and it’s a much better way to start my day.”
– Tracy Verdugo, painter, author, and creativity coach, chapter 6, A Beautiful Morning
Another idea for your shower is to imagine the water washing all tension out of you, then filling you up with peace and energy.
“[In the shower] I will do about a minute of mindful breathing … I also pay attention to the water hitting my head and streaming downward, and picture it washing all the negative stuff out of me and down the drain. I imagine the fresh water replenishing me with new blessings for the day. It’s short but very powerful.”
– Tanja Richter, Reiki master and massage therapist, chapter 9, A Beautiful Morning
You can make drinking your coffee or eating your breakfast a mini-meditation in itself by paying attention: smell it, sip or chew slowly, and feel it nourishing you.
If you commute to work, enrich that time by listening to an inspiring podcast, music that lifts your spirits, or a guided meditation (if you aren’t driving).
Now that’s a form of multitasking I can get behind! Any of these actions will center you, connect you to yourself, and position you for a better day.
Do What Makes You Happy
If you have more time on the weekends or on a vacation, you can play around with a longer morning practice. You can find a wide variety of ideas among the rituals of the more than twenty women I interviewed in A Beautiful Morning. Or, just ask yourself what would feed your soul the most. What do you love to do? What revitalizes you? It could be anything: reading, running, singing, painting … whatever makes you happiest. Then incorporate that into your morning.
Your Ritual Should Lift You Up, Not Weigh You Down
The point of a morning ritual is not to add yet another thing to your list. Rather, it’s to put yourself at the top of that list. By taking care of yourself first each day—even if only for a minute—you’re sending the message that your needs matter. What you think matters. You matter.
You are literally putting yourself first. This is not selfish; it’s necessary.
It’s trite but it’s true: you can’t take care of others well if you don’t also take care of yourself. Replenishing your resources daily with a morning ritual, no matter how tiny, will empower you to be your best self and help you to create a life you love.
Related Resources for Morning Rituals
Ashley Ellington Brown is a freelance writer and the author of A Beautiful Morning: How a Morning Ritual Can Feed Your Soul and Transform Your Life, which she was inspired to write after experiencing the life-changing effects of her own morning ritual. She is also a wife and mother; authors the blog Joy Detectives about her quest to enjoy her “one precious life” as much as she can; and leads fun events to help others craft personally meaningful morning rituals.