I won’t lie – I’m really not a morning person. In fact, I’d quite happily be a night owl for the rest of my days if I could get away with it, but for some reason though, other people aren’t really keen on doing meetings at 3am or responding to my 1.30am voicemails. Crazy, right? So, like I mentioned in my September Self-Care post, I’ve really been trying to become a morning person. Or at least less of a morning monster.
I’ve found that the best way to stop dreading getting up in the morning is to embrace morning rituals that make me feel positive and give me something to look forward to, other than a freshly brewed cup of coffee, that is. Instead of snoozing your 5 alarms for 45 minutes, here are a few morning rituals that will put you in a more positive frame of mind and set you up for a successful day.
- Gratitude lists.
Starting the day by making a list of 5 things you’re grateful for is an excellent way to start each day full of positive vibes. I used to be pretty sceptical about the power of gratitude lists but now I’m a gratitude diary-wielding convert. Reminding yourself of what you’ve got (especially if you’re prone to glass half empty thinking) really puts things into perspective. I’m willing to bet that you’ve got more going for you than you think and writing it down each morning will remind you of what you’ve got.
Gratitude queen Gala Darling has written loads on the benefits of creating a daily gratitude practice so her writing is a good place to start. If gratitude lists really aren’t your thing, you can take to the page with a morning journaling session. Grab a fresh page, pen and let your thoughts – and hand – go wild. You’ll feel a million times lighter.
Listen to Katie Daleabout, journaling expert, on the Good Life Podcast talking about why you should journal or on the Ultimate Health Podcast about the health benefits of letting it all out on the page.
- Listen to a podcast
I’m a big believer in the health benefits of podcasts so I wasn’t surprised at all to read this piece on why audio stories are so addictive and the impact of podcasts on the brain. To really get your brain ticking over in the morning, pick a storytelling podcast. S Town Serial and, my personal favourite, You Must Remember This are all the top of the crop. You could also go for newsy/current affairs like TED Talks News and Politics, NPR’s Fresh Air, The High Low or, for health podcast recommendations, check out my recent post about best health and wellness podcasts. I really recommend the Hay House Meditations podcast to focus your mind in the morning but whatever you choose, make sure it’s a subject that’ll stimulate, not stress or bore, your brain.
If you’re anything like me, the prospect of going outside first thing in the morning is as appealing as the mental image of Stormy Daniels spanking Trump. But, a brisk walk around the block for just 10 minutes will kickstart your day and get those feel-good endorphins flowing through your system. Depending on where you live, if you can experience a few minutes of nature, whether it’s by circling your nearest park or just walking the tree-lined avenue near your apartment and paying close attention to our leafy friends, that’ll definitely shake off any lingering morning negativity. Richard Louv wrote in his bestselling books Last Child in the Woods and Vitamin N that embracing nature can cure all of our modern maladies – boosting mental acuity and creativity to reducing obesity and depression and I completely believe this is true.
4. Read a book, not your phone.
This is something I’ve been swearing by since last summer when I wrote my Digital Detox post. Switching on my phone and mindlessly scrolling Twitter (and feeling increasingly annoyed) used to be my go-to as soon as I woke up – and sometimes during the night when I couldn’t sleep. I always felt bad doing this and more often than not, I would already feel drained, zapped and like all my focus had been swallowed up by the time I plodded down the hall to make coffee. These days, I reach for whatever book I’m reading instead and I’ve noticed a dramatic difference in my mood and in how focused I feel. Over the last two weeks I read 4-5 pages of Gloria Steinem’s Revolution From Within each morning in bed and starting each day with such an insightful, inspiring read really put me into a positive mindset for the day ahead. You don’t have to go for a self-help book though, just as long as the book imparts wisdom or makes you feel positive it’s a runner.
- Make time for breakfast.
Your mother was right; breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. For years, I couldn’t stomach breakfast, instead choosing to sip coffee until lunch time. Unsurprisingly, as I got older and felt more zapped by, y’know, everything, I would find myself in a foul mood by 11am and wondering why I was feeling so tired and negative about everything. Turns out, food not only stops your stomach from growling angrily during morning meetings, but it is a pretty good mood booster too. I work from home most of the time so there’s no excuse for me not to eat something when my desk is a few feet from the fridge. Whether you go for an energising smoothie or a banana oat bar packed with nuts and seeds, breakfast doesn’t have to be time-consuming or worthy of a hipster café. Keep it simple, sugar-free and full of nutrients and you’re sorted. For an extra dose of positivity, eat mindfully and you’ll feel focused for the day ahead.
If you want more self-care tips, here’s something I wrote about self-care lessons and you should also check out this post about wellness hacks. I would love to hear your morning rituals so let me know in the comments!