28 Feb Consistent morning rituals equate to winning days
As I sit down to write this blog post, I have been reflecting on how my morning ritual has changed over the years. Nailing down a morning routine that worked for me has been a long drawn out experiment!! I have experimented with what time I get up in the morning, what I eat for brekkie, when my body best reacts to training. In addition trialling a whole heap of weird and wonderful morning activities! Through all of my crazy testing and experimenting, I have come to realise the importance of the first 60-90 minutes of the day for me! What I do/think/feel when I first open my eyes sets the tone of my day. So I’ve worked flipping hard to get it right!
Messy mornings lead to unproductive days
Now, I know how difficult it is to get out of bed at the best of times – especially during these cold, dark winter mornings (brrrrrrrrrrr)! Hitting snooze on repeat seems like the kindest thing you can do for yourself so you can savour a few more precious minutes in bed. However, those soothing feelings from your extra minutes in bed soon to turn into feelings of utter panic as you realise you are going to be late to work!
You end up racing around the house trying to make up time and more than likely you turn up to work forgetting your lunch, looking like you’ve been dragged through a hedge and wishing that you’d risen from your slumber when your alarm went off! So…you’ve arrived into work in a state of stress, you are completely unprepared for the day ahead and already you are on the back foot! Ughhhhhh, please can I just go back to bed and start again??!
In my experience, a messy morning leads to an entirely unproductive day which can sometimes roll into a pretty crappy week! I have therefore invested a fair amount of time creating a routine that I know works for me and allows me to begin my day in the best frame of mind!
Tips on setting a morning ritual
Before we get into the gory details of my personal mourning ritual, a few little tips on setting a morning routine (based on some epic fails from my past!):
- Create a morning routine that excites you so you feel more inclined to jump out of bed in the morning as opposed to hitting that snooze button for the 14th time!
- Keep your routine consistent so it becomes habitual and not another thing you have to think about in the morning. Removing decision making from your morning is definitely a winner!
- Keep it simple and don’t set your expectations too high. If you set your bar low to “win” in the morning, your mindset will be positive as you’ll be going into the day with a sense of achievement.
- Your morning routine starts as soon as you open your eyes – before emails or social media! Focus on setting yourself up for the day without any external factors / pressures clogging up your mind. This stuff will wait so set some boundaries to keep your technology off until you are good and ready!
- Experiment! What works for one person will not necessarily work for another so think about what you want to feel / achieve in a day and think about things that promote these feelings or encourage those actions for you.
The reason that I have managed to maintain a consistent morning routine is simple…because I have come to realise that my day is always better when I do it! I have more focus, my productivity levels are vastly improved, I am calmer and I am generally so much happier! So when I am tempted to hit snooze, I connect back to this feeling of calm and I get my booty out of bed!
My fist pumping morning ritual
After thinking about what I want to achieve in the morning and testing out A LOT of different activities, I have figured out what works for me. Here are five things which I attempt to carry out every morning (if I do four of these then the majority off the time I will have a cracker if a day):
#1 Body brushing before I shower
This habit creates a flow through effect for me as it puts the focus on my physical health. Body brushing has numerous proven benefits but I first bought a body brush after I saw Miranda Kerr interviewed at one of the Victoria Secrets shows and she attributed her dreamy, cellulite free thighs to a daily body brushing ritual! Now…my legs definitely do not resemble Miranda’s but the improved circulation obtained via body brushing has definitely reduced the appearance of cellulite. More importantly for me though is that it stimulates my nervous system and provides a much needed energy boost.
#2 Mindful meditation
It took me years after first hearing about the benefits of mediation to start practising regularly – I dabbled at it but beat myself up for being “no good” at it as my mind wandered constantly! However, I persevered, and successfully meditating has involved letting go of the need to “do it well”. Whatever my meditation practise looks like I know that my day is always better when I spend 10-20 minutes meditating in the morning. I experience more mental clarity and everything feels a lot less stressful! At the end of my meditation I create an affirmation for the day and repeat this in my head a few times so I am clear on my intention for the day ahead.
#3 Move my body
This is not my daily exercise (I do this later in the day) but as I flip on the kettle to make my morning brew, I spend the two and a half minutes it takes to boil my kettle cranking out some reps of something to get my muscles firing. I generally carry out some body weight movements like push ups / sit ups but I might also do some foam rolling if my muscles are tight. This gets my heart beating and gets me primed for the day ahead.
As I sit down with my morning brew (my first drink of the day is a good old fashioned English breakfast tea), I check in with my goals (written simply on a piece of paper at the front of my journal) and then I journal. I spend about 5-10 minutes on the following two questions:
What will make today great? (This assists with my productivity by focussing my mind on the day’s most important tasks)
What am I grateful for? (This is all about the positive vibes! It helps me to appreciate what I have now before I start working towards my future goals.
I LOVE food and brekkie is my favourite meal of the day. I change up what I eat for breakfast but I never skip and I ensure that I start my day with a macro-balanced mean to fuel me up! Before eating, I take some apple cider vinegar diluted in water which aids digestion and vastly improves my energy levels.
And that is me…after this little routine I am ready to kick some goals throughout the course of my day! This takes me around 60 minutes each morning but that investment pays me back in so many ways setting me off such a positive footing.
More weird and wonderful options for your morning ritual
What people do in a morning before they start work fascinates me and therefore I have researched and read a lot around the subject before settling on my specific routine above. To help you gather some ideas and inspiration of what to include in your morning routine, I have outlined some common examples from top performers across different fields:
Technology ban – Barack Obama (former US President) generally did not look at his emails before 9am in the morning. Taking care of physical fitness and family are two important elements of his day and he ensures that these two are done before starting his working day.
Make your bed – this is an easy win if we think back to creating that sense of achievement before you start your working day! It is also great for creating visual tidiness which helps in turn to create a sense of tidiness and clarity in your mind.
Hot / cold showering – Tony Robbins (world famous performance coach and advisor to Leonardo DiCaprio, Nelson Mandela and Serena Williams to name a few) plunges into ice cold water each morning to shock and stimulate his nervous system into action.
Get out into nature – connecting with nature can set you up with a feeling of connectedness and gratitude. It can be as small as a walk around the block to feel the wind in your face and remind you that you are alive.
Setting daily affirmations – this is a common one amongst top performers as a way of declaring what you want from the universe and then letting your subconscious mull on this so your intentions become your truth. Affirmations can change each day dependent on what you are looking to achieve, for example “I am healthy, powerful and strong” or “I am calm, considered and connected”.
Goals – incorporating your goals into your morning routine is a great way to help your goals manifest. Whether you read a few each morning or repeat them out loud to yourself, it will again enable your subconscious to get hold of them and help to make them a reality.
Flood your mind – this is a great one for all of the creative folks out there. Scott Adams (best selling author and creator of “Dilbert” comic strip) uses the first 60 minutes of his day to flood his mind with new information and inspiration via various mediums (newspapers, TV, blogs etc). This aids his creative process as his mind is in a clean slate and open to processing and interpreting this new information.
Stretching – along the same lines as my morning exercises, stretching not only gets your blood flowing and wakes you up but it is a nice way to get connected with your body using light, easy movements before you jolt yourself into the chaos of life.
Getting into a good mood – this is potentially my favourite! BJ Novak (Emmy award winning actor) will not start work until he is in a good mood…no matter how long this takes! He does all of his favourite things in a morning, reading, walking in nature, meeting friends for coffee, whatever it takes to get his endorphins high. Only then does he feel like he’ll show up to work as the best version of himself! Obviously this is not realistic for lots of us but the overall concept of getting yourself into a positive mindset is essentially what your morning routine should be about.
Hopefully, that has left you with a bit of food for thought and a few options to consider when setting your morning routine. Start small, even if it is making your bed and a few breathing exercises before you rush into your day. I promise you will reap the benefits and you’ll start to notice a marked different in the productivity of your days.
And with that I will leave you with a final quote. One that may help you with avoiding that dreaded morning snooze button!!!
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”