(*This post will also be features on http://www.dearchereen.com later this week)
Setting the mood for your morning creates the tone for your day. The morning is a perfect time slot to cultivate positivity. From a mindfulness perspective, creating a morning routine is a nourishing way to stir up happiness. The importance of a morning routine has endless benefits. The benefits include avoiding daily mental fatigue and the dread of being rushed. Morning routines should be slow, mindful and completely at your own pace. The morning hours should be centered around peace with the avoidance of distractions. It is the pinnacle hour for “me time” before the world rises to meet their busy day.
Creating a new morning routine requires trial and error. Narrowing down your favorite things to do is a good stepping stone. The main goal behind your morning routine should be to feel good overall and be ultimately present with yourself. We can all be a little more mindful during our day to day routine. Making mindfulness a morning priority connects us to our daily tasks. If you’re looking for a few tips to start, I have outlined some of the most helpful tips below – focusing on enhancing wellness, your presence and overall daily focus. Let’s get you started with creating your unique morning flow!
- Plan for a good night sleep:
Waking up is the beginning stage of everyone’s morning. The healthiest people awake in unison with the sun. Starting the day early stretches out your time and eliminates the urge to rush. These “early risers” tend to be more productive and calm as the day moves along. Consider going to bed earlier the night before for a pleasant night’s rest. The average adult should aim for around 7-8 hours of sleep. One helpful tip is to shut off all technology an hour prior to sleep. The mind is stimulated by screens and different types of light. Consider talking on the phone to a friend, reading a book or listening to a sound machine (highly recommend white noise) before tucking yourself in.
- Avoid Technology for the first hour:
As we wake up, the brain is still slowly easing into the day. Our day is commonly bombarded with technology, phones and checking emails. I try to avoid checking my phone for the first half hour/one hour every morning. This is a good method for giving your eyes and brain a rest. You have the rest of the day to check your phone. Putting your phone aside and focusing on yourself for a while is a wonderful way to be mindfully present.
- Stretch and move:
Our bodies were made to move. Movement and exercise are essential to overall wellbeing. Stretching in the morning is a great way to get the energy flowing through your body. If you like exercising in the morning, that is the opportune time to create your own fitness routine. Consider a light jog outside or taking an early morning Pilates class. If exercise isn’t your current forte, try doing some light leg stretches. Some yoga moves, such as sun salutations, are low intensity and do not require much physical activity. Sun salutations move energy around essential areas of the body. Try the yoga positions of “downward dog”, “plank” and “upward facing dog” to stretch out your spine. The best thing about yoga is the deep connection to the body. You will be able to feel the way your body molds into each position. Yoga and mindfulness go hand in hand!
- Awaken your stomach with a warm drink:
In Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Modern Medicine, various practitioners recommend starting your morning with a warm drink. The warm water starts the cycle of digestion and boosts your metabolism. After ingesting something warm, it is recommended to wait 30 minutes before consuming breakfast. Here are a few healthy, stomach warming drinks for consideration:
- One cup of plain lukewarm water
- One cup of hot water mixed with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, two slices of lemon and a small dash of cayenne pepper
- One cup of hot water, lemon slice, ginger and a pinch of raw honey
- One cup of water and juice of a lemon
- Chamomile, Jasmine or Green Tea
- Make a Mindful Breakfast:
Food is your friend. Breakfast is still seen as the most important meal of the day. Choosing a breakfast that is healthy, satisfying and full of good protein is essential for optimal health. Breakfast fuels your metabolism and gifts your body with much needed energy. In mindfulness, eating is always a special occasion. For one morning, try avoiding meal prepping and be present while making your food. Allow yourself to be in the process with minimal distraction. Notice the smells, measurements and process during preparation. If making breakfast does not fit into your morning, try taking 5 minutes to eat by yourself. Turn off all technology and just FOCUS on eating your food. Chew your food for at least 10 bites. Notice the texture, tastes and feeling of each mouthful. If you’re looking for some healthy breakfast options, try some of these:
- Oatmeal and your favorite fruit/nut toppings
- Hard boiled eggs and orange juice
- Mashed avocado on whole grain toast
- Unsweetened Greek yogurt, chia seeds and low sugar granola
- Hummus, olive oil and tomato on a multi-seed bagel
- Pray or Meditate:
Connecting with yourself or God is a peaceful way to start your morning. Looking within ourselves is a great way to decide what we want from the new day. Praying to God provides us with peace in our hearts and the inner guidance we seek. Even if it is a 5-minute meditation, mindfulness still puts your brain in a good position. If you’re new to meditation, these small steps will help you get started (these can also be applied to prayer.)
- Pick a mantra that creates a positive feeling within you
- Use prayer beads or Mala beads to prevent fidgeting
- Use soft music to that helps you feel relaxed
- Sit in a relaxing position (I recommend laying down or putting your legs against the wall for inversion)
- Keep the focus on the breath as it flows through your body
- Give Yourself a Smile:
Body Kindness is a wonderful addition for your life. “Body Kindness” is treating yourself like you belong to someone you love. We can all give ourselves a little kindness throughout the day; especially in the morning. One of the simplest ways to do this is by doing simple “mirror work” activities. Mirror work means looking at yourself in the mirror and noticing only positive features. For example, try smiling at yourself for 30 seconds. It may sound silly but smiling does the body wonders. Smiling naturally boosts the mood in a simple, quick movement. If you can smile at others, you can smile at yourself! You deserve all the kindness that you omit out into your world.
Whatever routine you choose, make sure the routine makes you feel your best. Try creating a routine for the next seven days and following its steps. Once you find a rhythm that fits your life, your mornings might be your most pleasant hour. Be well!