Each night we sleep and we are washed of the debris from the previous day.
Each morning is a new beginning. How we show up for the beginning of the day matters.
How many of us—especially now—reach for our phones first thing in the morning? Glancing through notifications, going straight to news or social media, and before we know it, we’ve stayed in bed too long and we’re worked up about something we saw on that tiny screen?
How many of us hit the snooze button until we’re late and forced to rush around, cursing ourselves for doing it again?
How many of us tend to the needs of everyone else before ourselves?
And what state does this leave us in? Stressed, disgruntled, fearful, annoyed, helpless.
When this is our first feeling in the morning, it bleeds into the rest of the day, and everything that happens is tinged with those negative feelings.
Creating a better morning for yourself is key to navigating your days in a more positive and capable state of mind. You can be calm, steady, and anchored. But those feelings don’t just happen for most of us—we have to put in some work.
Over the years, I’ve come to find that the more effort I put into my mornings, the better I handle the unpredictable ups and downs of life. When things are good, I express my gratitude and I can feel the goodness welling up in me and pouring out to the people around me, creating a beautiful ripple effect. When things are hard, it doesn’t feel so bad. I know I can navigate any transition or hardship. Even if it sucks, I am grounded enough to not let my reactions rule me.
I call this time I spend at the beginning of the day my “Morning Ritual.” It’s changed and evolved over the years, but the essence of a Morning Ritual is that it is time spent tending to yourself, to your spirit. It’s about filling your cup, cultivating an inner well of peace. Think of it as a bank account, and every morning you spend nourishing yourself is a deposit. Then when life gets crazy or hard or scary, you have a reserve to dip into.
What does a morning ritual look like?
Here are some of my favorite things to incorporate into a morning ritual, and those that I’ve found to be most effective:
1. Meditation or mindfulness practice. I love meditating in the morning. It helps me clear my mind and feel strong and steady as I enter the day. Twenty minutes is my sweet spot, but start small and build up if you’re a beginner.
2. Journaling. Write about your dreams, make lists, hash out that difficult conversation you need to have, reflect on a situation that’s been bothering you—get it all out. There’s nothing quite as cathartic as allowing the words to go from your brain to the page so that you can go into your day without ruminating thoughts.
3. Morning beverage of your choice. Ritualize the making of your coffee. Treat yourself to a really nice tea. Drink warm lemon water to support your digestion. Having something warm and yummy in the morning is such a nice way to settle into your morning ritual.
4. Gratitude. You can write a list or just go over it in your head. Expressing gratitude for all the blessings we do have in our life makes way for more. It’s also an immediate mood-booster and puts us in a positive frame of mind right off the bat.
5. Walking/yoga/stretching. Some kind of physical movement will get you connected to your body and get your blood flowing. It doesn’t have to be intense exercise—keep it simple and gentle.
The early morning hours are such a beautiful container for this kind of personal nourishment. A morning ritual is an opportunity to align your heart and your mind so that you can show up as the best version of yourself.
There’s no right time to do your morning ritual. Whether it’s five a.m. or eight a.m. is up to you, but it may take an effort to make space for it. You may have to wake up a little earlier. You may have to lay out some boundaries for the people you live with.
I encourage you to carve out this time and honor it. Schedule it on your calendar. Hold yourself accountable.
In this day and age, when our attention is constantly being fought over, bringing the focus back to ourselves is so important. The more we can work to nourish our well-being, the more we are able to show up in this world. The more we take care of ourselves, the more capable we are of taking care of our communities.
A morning ritual is a container for this work, and I believe it’s more important than ever that we put the work in.