Do you enjoy your mornings? Do you hastily get ready and rush out the door or take the time to slowly bring your best self at the start of the day?
The nature of your morning affects how calm the whole day will go.
Too often mornings start with email, social media, daily planning, a quick breakfast and a coffee to wake up. Within those activities there is no space left for personal self, awareness and quiet time. Many of them compete for your attention.
One of the ways to take care of yourself and bring calmness to the day is to have a morning routine.
A morning routine is something that you do every morning that makes you feel better, makes you a better person and brings you joy. By doing those activities you would be able to start your day on a much higher and more inspired note.
The morning routine also helps you get into flow and be open to creativity and inspiration.
It is important to be deliberate about your morning. We usually don’t pay attention to how it goes and a big portion of it becomes habitual. Without attention our lifestyle determines how the morning goes. If the nature of your work is stressful then your morning is highly likely be stressful as well. If your work is laid-back (if that even exists nowadays) the morning is likely to be calm as well.
Whatever the case, you can always make the morning better and use it to your advantage. A small win, a dose of inspiration and the feeling of gratefulness will help you start the day on a very high note.
Below are a few things you can do in the morning.
1. Drink a tall glass of warm water with honey, lemon and a pinch of sea salt
In the morning your body can be quite dehydrated. Getting some water first thing in the morning is a must. Honey provides many benefits, including an immune boost and aids the digestive system. Lemon aids the digestive system and liver function. Salt helps body hydrate better.
Light yoga will help you wake up and stretch your muscles after sleeping. A light workout like yoga will not be as stressful as a regular workout. You don’t want any stress early in the morning. It is a great way to energize yourself before the start of the day.
3. Work with energy (qi gong, tai chi or tantra)
Energy cultivating practices are a great way to ground yourself, bring calm and energize yourself. Qi Gong and tai chi are energy practices of a general nature while tantra focuses on cultivating sexual energy. Either of those can help cultivate self-awareness, calmness and higher energy levels during the day.
Spring Forest qi gong is one of the easiest forms to start. As for tantra, Barbara Carrellas provides a wealth of knowledge on the subject.
A meditation is the staple of the morning routine. There are numerous benefits of meditation: improvement in concentration, happiness, self-awareness, stress reduction and many more. Thus, a morning meditation is one of the best things you can do for yourself for a great start of the day.
Any form of meditation will work: guided, TM, body scan, observing thoughts, awareness, etc.
5. Breathing exercises
With constant stress and lack of self-awareness we start making shallow breaths that do not always provide enough oxygen for our bodies. This leads to more tension and stress in the body, including all the way in the pelvic floor (since the diaphragm doesn’t lift as much to relieve the pressure from the organs onto the pelvic floor). Deeper breathing provides more oxygen and activates the parasympathetic nervous system to release the relaxation response. With more oxygen you will feel more alert and clear-headed.
Wim Hof, Belisa Vranich and Patrick McKeown provide a lot useful information about breathing and exercises for making breathing better.
6. An HRV session
Heart rate variability (HRV) is the variation in the time interval between heartbeats. Why is this relevant? A regular heartbeat variation (low HRV) is associated with the sympathetic nervous system, the part responsible for the fight or flight response. An irregular HRV (within certain parameters) is associated with the parasympathetic nervous, the part responsible for the relaxation and recovery. HRV training can help you enhance cognitive function, memory, the ability to focus, reduction of stress and several others. All of those are great to have at the start of the day!
7. A nature walk
Nothing new here: nature is good for you! The benefits are extensive: reduction of stress, better cardiovascular health, improved mood, better attention, increased happiness, reduced rumination and so on. Being alone in nature also promotes creative thinking, reflection and generation new ideas. If you can get to a large park, forest, beach and other peaceful outside placed within reasonable amount of time, it could further enhance your day.
8. Journaling or writing
This is a wonderful tool that can be used for many purposes! You could journal the events of the past day like Robert Rodriguez does, you could write whatever comes to your mind (“Morning pages” by Julia Cameron), you could write your gratitude or affirmations, write to answer tough questions or write to resolve emotional issues. Writing can also bring a number of other benefits: it gets you centered, lessen anxiety, clear emotions, expands creativity, memory enhancement and many others.
9. Drawing or painting
To jump start your creativity some quick drawings would be of great help. It doesn’t matter what you’re drawing. What matters is the connection to your creative and intuitive side. Intuitive drawing or painting where the brain is not supervising allow for easier access to the intuition and creativity. After, you can bring that to do great work!
Making marks by Elaine Clayton is a great book to get started with exploring intuitive drawing and what it feels like to draw from within you.
Morning is a great time to read, learn and be curious! This is the perfect time to catch up on that new business book or positive news updates.
It will be a good idea to avoid the news. Most of the time the news bring about worry and anxiety. None of those things have place in the morning. Carefully curated news sources in any RSS reader like Feedly would be a great to implement that strategy.
Reading for just 20 minutes per day adds up very quickly. I highly suggest speed-reading training program. With a little bit of effort it trains you to substantially increase your reading and comprehension speed. This is invaluable in the modern world. 7 Speed Reading is the most well known trainer.
This is it!
If you noticed, there are no productive or goal-oriented tasks here. While those are valuable, they do not necessarily provide the calmness and inspiration for the upcoming day. Thinking about planning and productivity is not the most calming activity.
Don’t always listen to what other “successful” people do. Better yet find what works for you. Be picky and listen to the inner you, rather than your logical brain or some media outlet
Mornings should be about you, calmn, joy and inspiration.