Mornings should not be frantic, but instead a time of renewal. That’s quite a shift in perspective for most of us right there.
In my previous blogpost, Why You Need a Morning Ritual , I looked at why a morning ritual is important and how it is a common practice of successful people across very different professions. So what does a morning ritual look like and what constitutes a good one?
First of all, for those who have adopted this practice there’s a change of viewpoint in the way they look at the beginning of their day: mornings should not be frantic, but instead be a time of renewal. That’s quite a shift in perspective for most of us right there.
Most people wake up at the last possible minute and then rush around frantically looking for their clothes, their car keys, something to grab to eat while running out the door. I used to do this because I would go to bed at the last possible minute, missing out on the sleep I needed.
It is now known that depriving yourself of sleep has vast biochemical consequences: besides the stress it puts on your brain and your decision-making capacity, it also has an effect on your impulse control (particularly regarding food) and your weight (and not in a good way). I wrote about that in Want to Lose Weight? Sleep More!.
So the beginning of a good morning ritual actually starts the night before by going to bed earlier than usual and turning off all screens at least an hour before sleeping (their blue light will disrupt your body’s production of melatonin needed for sleep). This earlier bedtime gives you the room to wake up 1 hour earlier than usual.
The common elements of a good morning ritual:
Successful business leaders, athletes and artists have been found to do the following during that extra hour:
-practice a few minutes of meditation
-read for a few minutes on a subject that interests them
-write their thoughts/worries in a journal to get them off their mind
-do some form of exercise to get their circulation going
-plan their day
This is just one example of the structure of a good morning ritual. While there are others, a good morning ritual often has 4 common elements:
- a mindfulness practice (meditation)
- a time for reflection (reading or writing)
- some form of physical exercise
- a time for planning the day (although some people prefer to do that the night before)
Mornings should not be frantic, but a time of renewal. That’s quite a shift in perspective for most of us right there.
Getting up an hour or more earlier than necessary seems impossible in today’s fast-paced, ever-connected world. That was my first reaction. But in fact, it’s not getting up early that is difficult, though it would seem that way. As I mentioned above, it’s going to bed earlier in order to be able to get up earlier while still getting enough sleep – that is the difficult part.
Actually, the difficulty lies in organising (or for most of us, re-orgainising) our lives so that we can get to bed earlier.
Here are 4 suggestions to tame the morning rush:
- Choosing and setting out the night before the clothes you will wear the next day.
- Setting the table and preparing your breakfast – or the ingredients and equipement needed for it -the night before.
- Planning your day the night before
- Closing all electronic devices one hour before bedtime. If you like to read before going to sleep, switch to a paper-based, not digital-based book.
In order to construct a morning ritual that works for you, you need to re-think each of the elements of your typical morning.
And any change to your established habits will probably be met with resistance. That’s just the way humans are wired: Our habits – good or bad – are familiar to us and, therefore, comforting. So know that the first few days you try to install a morning ritual will be difficult, awkward and uncomfortable.
It will feel strange to get up earlier than necessary, to take time to do new things instead of sleeping until the latest possible moment and still get out the door on time. But once that initial strangeness wears off, you’ll notice you’ll start the day with more energy, calm and strength, no matter what the day brings.
Instead of trying to make a radical change, it may be easier to try a small change for one week: prepare as much as you can the night before: breakfast, clothes to wear, etc. Then get up just 20 minutes earlier than normal and do one thing, like meditate or write your thoughts in a journal. Observe how you feel when you start your day having taken a few minutes for yourself with less last-minute panic and rushing around.
Let me know what you think of this idea of the morning ritual. Have you tried it and, if so, how did it feel? If you don’t think it’s possible for you, let me know why you feel that way.