I am really freaking busy, so I often don’t have the time I would like to meditate, practice yoga, or take time for myself.
There’s a short span of time each morning before I race out the door for work, school, and the other trillion things I have scheduled. But that time is important.
Those are the minutes I force myself to not move quickly. I mindfully go through my morning rituals one at a time, at a pace that doesn’t stress me out. This practice sets a rhythm that puts me in the right mood to tackle my day, and reminds me of the important things.
There are five morning rituals in particular that help me look forward to (and survive) the day. They’re necessary for my physical well-being, but they also bring my focus back to the important, emotional aspects of my life that motivate me to do my best.
1. Dab on Essential Oils
Before I get dressed, I stand in front of my dresser, where I keep my box of essential oils, and take stock of how I feel. Am I still really sleepy? Super nervous about a deadline? Are my allergies acting up and pissing me off?
I choose an oil depending on what I need to make my day go smoother. Peppermint fires me up and clears out any lingering fatigue. Pine grounds me and shoos away nervousness so I can focus on getting work done. Once I’ve dabbed the scents behind my ears and on my wrists, I take a few deep breaths to get the effect I need out of the oils.
While essential oils don’t completely dispel all of my problems, mindfully choosing one forces me to consider how I’m feeling. It helps me practice self-awareness and take deliberate steps to shake off whatever negativity I woke up with. This is the ritual I’ve added most recently, and it has significantly increased my positivity and gumption.
2. Eat Breakfast
I feel like breakfast is falling out of fashion. So many of my friends and family skip breakfast, preferring instead to “just have a cup of coffee.” I couldn’t live without breakfast because it gives me the fuel to survive until lunch. Without breakfast, I’m sluggish and my attention wanes.
I also end up eating lunch earlier, which means I snack more in the afternoon and ruin my appetite for dinner. So it just works better for me to sit and eat (not grab something on the way out the door) before I leave for work. Even just a banana works. Remember, the point is not to rush, so we don’t stress ourselves out.
3. Pack a Lunch
I try not to let fate take control of my lunch hour. As often as possible, I pack a lunch. If I don’t take time for that in the morning, I will make quick noontime decisions based on what I’m craving, not what my body needs to be healthy. Even a sandwich from last night’s leftovers is a better option than a quick fix from the coffee shop.
I don’t always have time between class and work to make healthy choices. So I make sure to choose what I eat when I have the 10 minutes to stop and consider what will work best. My husband has recently adopted this practice for himself. He stopped eating out with his workmates and lost at least 10 pounds.
4. Hug and Kiss the Babies
We have two dogs and three cats at our house. They love to make a show of sleeping peacefully while I’m getting ready so I get jealous before I leave for work. My little act of revenge is waking them up with a hug and a kiss.
Okay, so it’s not just about revenge. I also remind them that they’re good and that I love them. I rub my face in their fur so I can smell them, because the smells that remind me of home bring me peace. It makes the dogs’ tails wag and the cats purr a bit. They can’t say “I love you” or “Thank you,” but I feel it all the same.
My sister taught me to do this. One time I caught her going through the house saying goodbye to each animal. When I commented that she was being weird—since the animals couldn’t possibly answer back—she retorted that it made her feel better. After trying it out a couple of times, I can understand why.
5. Breathe (Outside)
Like many people, I’m stuck inside all day, mostly in front of a computer. So I take a second on the way to the car to breathe deep. It can be cold, warm, rainy, whatever; I make sure to suck in a few lungfuls of unfiltered oxygen when I can. The Tao of the Jewish Buddha reminds everyone, “Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this and attaining Enlightenment will be the least of your problems.”
Aside from the physical benefits, it’s a reminder for me to be grateful. There are a lot of blessings in my life, and nature is not a small one. Also, I am blessed to live in a neighborhood where I can safely walk to my car. There’s many places in the world where people can’t do that. It’s a fact worth remembering amongst the monotony of obligations.
Sure, I could skip all of these and sleep in at least 30 minutes more, but I think they’re worth it. In addition, all of these can be modified to fit anyone’s schedule. If you don’t like essential oils, choose clothing or accessories that help you overcome something you’re facing that day. Don’t have pets to annoy? Smother a kid with love, or water a plant.
Once I started taking the time to appreciate the little things in the morning, I was surprised how cheerful the rest of my day became. If anyone else has morning ritual suggestions or tips for a less stressful morning, I would love to read them!
Author: Lindsey Slanker
Editor: Nicole Cameron