How you spend your morning can set the tone for your entire day. Committing to a meaningful morning ritual that is centered around self-care allows you to begin your day feeling calm, refreshed and energised.
As you know, when you put yourself first consistently, you cultivate the physical and mental stamina to pursue the lifelong dreams that light you up in a way that nothing else can. It’s a powerful domino effect - one that is one thousand percent worth tapping into.
Knowing what the first 60 minutes of your day looks like also helps conserve your decision-making power for creative and productive work.
Instead of experiencing the mental fatigue that stems from making hundreds of little decisions in the morning, you’ll feel more grounded and in control of your day.
You’ll find your productivity levels surge thanks to the momentum you’ve single handedly created in the morning.
Ultimately, exercising discipline and mastering the morning provides you with the best possible chance of mastering the day - a gift that only you can gift yourself.
To help you craft your own morning ritual, we’ve shared ours below.
I wake up between 5:50am (for yoga) and 6:30am on alternate days. On weekends, I’m up before 7:30am. Regardless of what day it is, there are 3 things I do every morning.
Time: 1-1.5 hours
Yoga / Stretching
15 minutes - 1 hour
Practising yoga 4-5 times per week (1 hour classes) and stretching on alternate days was my #1 intention for the year. My perceived lack of coordination, clumsiness and irrational fear of making a complete fool of myself had previously held me back from many group-related activities. I decided that it was finally time to shed those negative perceptions, push past my fears and reap the benefits.
Being completely honest with myself and identifying why I wanted to do this in the first place was the first step to really committing to this habit. It wasn’t enough to define my intention, I had to dig deep and uncover the true source of motivation. Here’s my why:
Feel more calm, centered and less irritable
Fewer headaches and back issues
It’s 1 hour of meditation
Improve my balance and coordination
Improve my posture
I’m only 18 classes in, but the most compelling benefit to date has been the meditative nature of yoga. For 1 hour, I am so deeply focused on inhaling, exhaling and moving through a series of poses that my mind is literally unable to wander. Magic!
Meditation was not something I ever dabbled in prior to burning out last year. It wasn’t until my all too frequent state of anxiety and stress had manifested physically (gastritis) that I clinged on to anything that would help me recover.
Guided meditations (using apps such as Smiling Mind, 1 Giant Mind and Oak) played a huge role in my recovery and it has become an integral part of my daily routine.
Those 10-15 mindful minutes in the morning are as important to me as getting a good night’s sleep. It allows me to start my day in a calm and peaceful state as opposed to my past headache-inducing routine: jump out of bed frazzled, shower, get dressed and sprint to the tram stop to tackle the day.
This was by far the hardest habit to build despite the fact that it takes the least amount of time to complete.
I was very skeptical to begin with (I also like my showers really hot) but you can’t argue with the abundance of scientific evidence validating this ritual. You can read all about it here:Cold Shocking the Body. What made me come around was the mental benefits I stood to gain: improved mood, focus and attention, not to mention mental resilience.
Here’s the short explanation: The cold exposure activates our “fight or flight” response. Naturally, we want to run, but embracing the discomfort works as a simulation for pushing past our fears and stepping out of our comfort zones.
My shower isn’t cold from start to finish. I’ll turn it to cold for the last 90 seconds and count to 90, making sure it hits every part of my body.
My alarm goes off at 5:50am weekdays. Weekends tend to be closer to 7am.
I’ve gotten into the habit of putting my phone on airplane mode before I go to bed every night so that I’m not inundated with notifications and to-dos in the morning. Once I wake up, I’ll often leave my phone on airplane mode until my morning ritual is complete (although, there may be a quick 6am exercise-related post on my Instagram story to keep myself accountable).
Monday & Friday - Swim & Steam Room
Laps of Freestyle until I’m exhausted. Steam Room for 2 or 3 rounds, with cold showers or ocean dips in between (more on that below).
Tuesday - Thursday: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training
I’ve been training in BJJ for around 3 months now, and it’s safe to say I’m addicted. The audio from this video, taken from Sam Harris’ podcast was the driving force behind starting my Jiu Jitsu journey.
Saturday - Two Handed Kettlebell Swings
A super simple workout which can be performed at home within the space of a few minutes. I use a 16kg Kettlebell with two sets of 50 reps. Find out more here.
15 - 20 minutes
My journaling of choice is Morning Pages, taken from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It involves one or two pages of free form, stream of consciousness writing about whatever is on my mind. On the ‘blank days’ when nothing is coming to the surface, I literally write “I have no idea what to write about. I have no idea what to write about...” like a madman until something pops up.
Like Alex, I also practise mindfulness meditation daily, usually sitting at my desk in front of the computer (which is powered off, of course).
I started meditation a couple of years ago using the app Headspace. I highly recommend using a teaching based app when first starting out because I found it to be an incredibly difficult activity to begin with.
Once you get the hang of it, you may not need to use an app. I prefer meditating on my own without guidance these days.
Nothing spectacular here, just some basic full body stretches to get the blood flowing. On Jiu Jitsu training days I will do a minute or so of Dead Hangs which are said to be incredibly valuable for your shoulder health.
As mentioned above, cold showers are legit. You really want to try to push your body to the “I feel like I’m about to die” stage which is much easier in Winter.
On Pool/Steam Room days I’ll take this a step further. After spending 5-10 minutes in the 100% humidity, 40°+ steam room, I’ll run outside and jump into the cold waters of Port Phillip Bay for 2-5 minutes of icy salt water goodness. Again, Winter time provides the best experience for this type of activity (usually 8-10°), but a cool Summer’s morning will still do the trick.
So there you have it - our morning rituals in a nutshell. Bear in mind that what works for us may not work for you.
Before you can create the perfect morning ritual, you’ll need to experiment with a few different things and figure out what works best for you.
Prior to testing any regimes, we suggest reviewing your habits to identify which ones are holding you back and what habits you can build to support your goals and intentions.
Lucky for you, we’ve included an extra awesome Habit Curator in our Curation 2019 diary to help you plan, schedule and track your progress until it becomes second nature. Click here to learn more.