For as long as I can remember, I have felt like I have to hit the ground running the moment I open my eyes.
There has always been something to deal with, obsess over, solve, do, or overthink. Life doesn’t take a break because we’ve been getting some z’s.
Over the past year, I have come to depend on a morning ritual to help me start the day in a calmer place and state of being. The world seems to hurl information at us faster than we can blink, making our heads spin before we even get out of bed.
All of us have some form of responsibility, and, all too often, we forget that we need to fill our own tanks first.
How can we give our best (even to ourselves) when we aren’t throwing some of that energy and attention our own way?
If you feel the pressure of chasing the day the minute the alarm sounds, try the following morning ritual for a week (no cheating!), notice how it makes you feel, and experience the day in a calmer, more focused way.
Doing these three steps will take you about 30 minutes. Get into the habit of using time normally spent on social media or watching/reading the news and align with this new routine. The investment of these 30 minutes will have you feeling so good, you’ll be happy to leave the hashtags aside until afterward.
1. Honor your Spirit
Set your phone timer for 5 to 10 minutes. This is your time to connect with that inner quiet and just be. Do some deep breaths, call on your angels or guides (if that resonates with you), or simply close your eyes and notice the sounds of the environment around you. Say a prayer or remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for.
Getting present is a present. It’s not just some cool, overused new-age phrase. Our lives are right here, right now. Our lives are in the quiet moments as well as the chaotic ones.
This may seem simple, but the effects are profound. By clearing your head and honoring the quiet, you allow your nervous system to relax, making it easier to solve problems, retain concentration, and move through experiences with greater ease. This also strengthens that intuition muscle because you begin to connect and trust yourself on a deeper level.
When the timer goes off, say “Thank you” three times. This simple affirmation gets us into a state of receiving—and what better way to view the day than with an attitude that all you need will come to you?
2. Honor your Body
Stretch. For at least 10 minutes. Focusing on your body gets you out of your head. And while our brain is an incredible piece of machinery, we can’t have it calling the shots all the time. We need to get some information from our bodies.
Giving ourselves time in the morning to connect with our physical selves does miraculous things. First of all, we just feel better. Moving our bodies and engaging our muscles helps with all physical functions: digestion, mental clarity, concentration, a feeling of strength, agility, healthy cell growth, organ function, flexibility, core strength, and stamina.
Stretching is an underrated activity. We have been told that in order to get any physical benefit, we must be at the gym for hours at a time. Nonsense!
Stretching awakens your muscles, joints, and circulation. And it feels so good!
Our bodies are alive, although we do not treat them like that in modern times. We are meant to move, groove, and be active. This is especially important if you work in a setting that requires a lot of sitting or being sedentary.
Our bodies are incredibly intelligent—sending pain signals when something is wrong, alerting us of a dangerous or bad situation through our fight/flight response, and allowing us all the wonderful physical sensations that we will experience. It needs some love and attention. It’s actually mind-blowing how often we forget about this amazing ecosystem we walk around with, which is the reason we can do everything we want to do. Health is wealth, because it is the basis for all we can do, be, and have.
Even if you already have an exercise schedule, add this in. The slow and concentrated activity of stretching is also beneficial to the mind because it helps us return to our natural rhythms.
If you tune in, your body will tell you what needs to be stretched and released. Let go and let it flow. Don’t overthink this or get in your head.
Start with some neck and shoulder rolls, and then just let your body take you on a journey. You will find yourself in a groove in no time.
3. Honor your Mind
Set your phone timer for 10 minutes and write. Write anything. Get a journal that is only for this purpose and do some stream-of-consciousness, pen-to-paper expression.
For this step, skip typing. Holding a pen in our hand and feeling the flow of our words on paper creates a different outcome. Studies show that physically writing things down adheres them to our memory and makes us feel more connected to what we are expressing.
Do this even—and especially—if you don’t consider yourself a writer. This is not about penning the next Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. This is about listening. Something all of us could use some help on.
Writing does a few things. First, it allows us to “dump” anything that is running around in our heads. We have neural pathways firing constantly, and sometimes it can feel like a chicken is running around in our mind with not only its head cut off, but with a few friends tagging along (all going in different directions) and adding fuel to the fire.
Get it out on paper. It doesn’t have to make sense, be logical, or even be grammatically correct. To begin, you can even write, “I’m not sure what to write about…” and then watch where your imagination takes you. This is about clearing the mind of all the debris so you can feel sharp, ready, and open.
Second, writing allows the flow of ideas. All too often, we search for answers without exploring. Writing helps us explore. It gets the wheels churning and the creativity popping. We never know where an answer to something we are seeking will surface.
Opening up the portal to our natural flow helps us see things and situations in a new way. We may even come up with our next business idea or remember someone we can call for advice. Writing opens up our inner worlds and helps us expand our thinking.
Lastly, writing helps us become closer to ourselves. What better way to examine our inner life than to sit quietly without distraction and ask, “What is going on for me today?”
Challenge yourself to change it up. I understand that many of us have stuff that needs to be taken care of in the morning: lunches to make, work deadlines to complete, kids to see off to school, showers to take, and so on. All of these things will feel better once we have given ourselves some attention.
We habitually use time in unproductive and unsupportive ways without question or examination and then wonder why we feel so out of sorts. I did this for years, not connecting the dots that the way in which I was starting my day was creating my sense of chaos, overwhelm, dread, and that stressful feeling of “chasing the day.”
Those seven minutes mindlessly spent on Instagram can wait. Those five minutes spent on obsessing over what a coworker said yesterday is better channeled in a journal so you can get it out of your body and release it. The 10 minutes taken up with talk shows will serve you better if you turn it off and breathe.
Love yourself first, and the rest really does fall into place.