How To Start Your Day Right
FREE Morning Rituals Printable Below
Guess how many times you will wake up as an adult? Only about 25,000 times, give or take a few. That means we have about 25,000 mornings that we wake up and decide how we're going to live our day. In fact, a lot of research has been done on successful people and how they spend their morning, and it seems that their morning rituals play a significant role in their success. Many people with morning rituals also suggest they are better colleagues, parents, partners and friends when they have set up their day. The ripple effect of a morning ritual is significant. (Recommended read: The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen)
So here's 8 morning rituals gleaned from the world's most successful people, as well as personal experience to set you up for an epic day every day! Before diving in though, here's a few tips to keep in mind:
- You don't need to do every one of these to start your day right. Find what works for you. Experiment, and be flexible til you find your sweet spot for your mornings.
- Creating a great morning ritual starts the night before - switching off and getting to bed earlier is where it begins.
- Having kids doesn’t have to get in the way - get up 20 minutes before everyone else, or welcome the opportunity to teach your children to occupy themselves while you do your thing (obviously not if they’re too young of course).
A powerful ritual to begin with is; before getting out of bed, imagine and rehearse your day with the best possible outcome in your mind. Then choose your attitude for the day. This is based on the principles of visualisation and positive psychology, and can have a powerful effect on how the day goes. Does it mean nothing will go wrong? Of course not, but if you've already decided how your will approach the day, you will be more focused on making it a reality that if you didn't.
I know how not practicing this ritual can affect my day. A typical “me” waking moment looks like this: "What do I have to 'do' today? Crap! I pressed snooze too many times, ahhhh!" And before I know it, I'm full swing into the day with no forethought.
So here's the steps to build this ritual into your morning first thing:
- Wake up, and PAUSE
- Be grateful for another day of life - think of at least 3 things to be grateful for
- Then visualise your day unfolding in the best way possible
- Now is the time to choose your attitude for the day - be proactive and intentional about producing thoughts from within to create positive and expectant emotions, rather than letting your attitude be dictated by external cues (like the weather, the things you need to get done, or what you think other people think of you).
The practice of diaphragmatic breathing has a great impact on our bodies, and is another greta practice to add to your morning ritual - even just a few minutes worth. According to Dr Libby Weaver,
The way you breathe has a powerful impact on your biochemistry, your ability to use body fat as fuel, and your energy, predominantly via your nervous system. - Women’s Wellness Wisdom, 210
She goes on to explain that the only way we can communicate to our body that we are not in danger is via our breathing. We live in a very different world from our ancestors, where danger came in the form of a tiger chasing you. That kind of thing is what used to get heart rates going. These days however, our heart rates get going from our coffee addictions, our iPhones breaking, and checking our emails. None of which, are actually life-threatening. This is why diaphragmatic breathing can be super important because it helps communicate to our bodies that we're not in danger, thus calming down the stress hormones and allowing our bodies to burn fat efficiently.
Here's the simple steps to practicing diaphragmatic breathing:
- Find somewhere to sit or lie down, or put your legs up against the wall (this helps to focus on breathing from your diaphragm)
- Take a long, slow inhale through your nostrils. Imagine a balloon in your belly and with each inhale you are inflating it
- As you inhale, send the breath to your belly and let it rise with the inhale. If your hands are on your belly you will feel this
- Exhale slowly through your nostrils as your belly shrinks back towards your spine.
- Gently pause
- Repeat this 10 times
It may feel uncomfortable initially as some of the muscles may not be used to it, but it will get easier the more you do it. Breathing this way is a beautiful nourishment for our nervous systems, pituitary gland and our adrenals. It's also a time to calm the mind and be aware of our physical bodies.
Ritual 2 recommended read: Women's Wellness Wisdom by Dr Libby Weaver
This morning ritual goes right along with the first two, and means recognising a higher power other than yourself and connecting to your true purpose for living. This is a window of time to be still - a much needed practice in our world of deadlines, and on-the-go living.
Prayer and meditation has been found to help calm your mind, increase your focus and helps with time management. In other words, a short time of prayer and meditation can allow you to be more productive during the rest of your day. For me personally, this is a time to pray and connect with God, read His word, and seek divine wisdom that can be applied practically in my life.
This can also be a time to better understand our own minds and where we’re at, overcome any negative or challenging thinking and learn to be more authentic.
And if you don't believe me? Here's some of the benefits of prayer & time of meditation:
- Regulation of high blood pressure
- Better clarity of thought or less mental clutter
- Reduction in stress and anxious feelings
- Ability to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (restorative arm of the nervous system)
- Improved sleep
- Improved breathing
We all know we need to drink more water for optimal health, as many people are in an acidic condition due to dehydration. So a great way to get this done is to start first thing in the morning. I start my mornings with a big glass of filtered water with a squeeze of lemon juice. Why lemon? It's a digestive aid and liver cleanser, and helps to alkalise the body.Try to drink as much water as possible between waking up and breakfast time, while still leaving 30 minutes if possible between drinking and breakfast.
Recommended read for Ritual 4: Self Heal By Design by Barbara O'Neill
I like to get all my clients to not only set goals and clearly know their why, but then to read this to themselves every morning. This is a way to remind yourself of your identity, purpose & values. If you haven’t figured this stuff out for yourself yet, I suggest you schedule some time to sit and reflect on who you are, where you are getting your identity from (assess whether its healthy or not), and decide what your purpose and values are. Then remind yourself of it every day - preferably every morning, read and speak them out loud to yourself. Imagine you are speaking to your best friend, and you are empowering them to remember how awesome they are!
My recommend read for Ritual 5: The Life Plan by Shannah Kennedy
For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
- Steve Jobs
Take a few minutes to review your daily tasks, as well as your weekly and monthly goals. Remind yourself what projects you are working on, and what appointments you have for the day. Keeping a digital or hard-copy diary helps me stay on top of this. I find that the days I don't remind myself what's coming up, I end up wayyy off track and don't usually complete the things I had planned.
Doing some form of exercise is one of the top morning rituals among the world's successful people. This is often for the simple reason that doing it before the day gets moving means it gets done. We all know the benefits to exercise so I won't bore you here. It's good to know however, that even just 5-10 minutes of movement in the morning can be highly beneficial for your nervous system and your energy levels throughout the day. If you can, ideally get your workout done in the morning so that other things won't take priority later on.
Interval training - HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training is an extremely time-effective method of increasing strength, fitness and fat burning. It involves short bursts of high intensity exercise followed by periods of short rest. It can be performed with almost any kind of exercises, and doesn't need to be more than 20 or 30 minutes. For more on short HIIT workouts check out my other blog here.
Being the first meal of the day, breakfast is your chance to set up your day with great food choices. A nourishing breakfast can keep you feeling sustained throughout the day, and less likely to reach for the unhealthy snack or make poor choices later in the day. Aim to include a whole-grain food source to make it a substantial meal, such as whole grain oats, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, or even brown rice. Include fruit too, as it provides flavour, sweetness and colour! Some tips for an epic breakfast:
- Eat breakfast like a king, make it your largest meal
- Think outside the box - savoury breakfasts are great! Homemade baked beans with veg, scrambled tofu, breakfast burritos are just some ideas
- Have quick healthy options when you’re short for time (meal prep in bulk whenever possible) and more elaborate options on days when you have more time.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
So there you have it! Eight morning rituals to set yourself up for an epic day every day. Remember it's not about these exact eight - its about choosing the ones that serve you best, and making them work for you. Are you making time for this? Keep in mind that when we say we don’t have time for something, what we are really saying is that is not a priority for us. I hope you make yourself a priority, and by doing so, you create an amazing morning ritual to live your best life possible. Remember to download the free printable for your morning rituals reminder.