You know who has a morning routine?
Just about everyone.
I’ve seen lots of articles lately sharing the morning routines of various people such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, and also Charles Dickens, Gloria Steinem, and even Queen Elizabeth II. It seems everyone has some sort of ritual(s) that they engage in, particularly in the morning. This idea isn’t new of course. The idea of preparing for the day ahead, setting intentions, cleansing the body, mind, and spirit upon waking goes back centuries to the Vedic culture of India. The system of natural healing that has its roots in Vedic Culture is called, Ayurveda. According to Ayurveda, to achieve a state of balance and wellness, you follow a daily routine consisting of conscious daily habits called the Dinacharya.
Why is it important to have some sort of morning routine?
It sets the tone for feeling productive, less anxious, and grounded. It is motivating and helps you to build momentum for the rest of your day. You can depend on it. When it becomes a ritual for you, you don’t have to think too hard and it takes away decision making. This is a good thing because throughout the day, we make an awful lot of decisions and expend a lot of energy. As the day goes on, motivation and decision making ability wanes. As human beings each of us have limited amounts of willpower and energy. So why not start off feeling sharp, focused, and less stressed out?
Below, I’ve listed several items that are some of the popular habits or rituals to include in your morning routine. See if you can pick a couple that interest you and incorporate it into your morning. Try it for a month. Keep track of any changes you notice in terms of stress level, focus, and energy throughout the day.
Warm Water with Lemon
You’ve probably heard this one before. There are a lot of hyped up claims about this particular ritual. Here are the facts: You’ve just woken up from having gone without water for 7 – 9 hours. It’s hydrating. An average adult’s body is between 50 – 65% water. The lemon is detoxifying in that it stimulates bile flow. It also has antioxidants which protect the body from free radicals and helps to strengthen your immune system.
Prioritize top 3 things “to-do”-
Have a daily prioritization meeting with yourself. Just for a few minutes each day. Here’s a relevant quote from Steven Pressfield, the author of The War of Art, “The Principle of Priority states you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and you must do what’s important first.” This may sound confusing, but many times what appears to be urgent isn’t the most important. Take email, social media, answering phone calls for example. You may be tempted to try to answer every inquiry, but is this the most important thing for you to accomplish? Almost always, it is not. These things are mostly distractions that actually take away from the important things. I always check email twice a day and my phone twice a day, during work days. That’s it. Unless something that is urgent, like a family member is sick for example, is the most important thing to consider.
Why use a tongue scraper? (You can get them in any drug store). According to the Mayo Clinic, “Research on the effectiveness of tongue scraping is limited. However, they do temporarily get rid of bad breath.you have a coated tongue — a buildup of debris, bacteria and dead cells on your tongue — tongue scraping may be helpful. A coated tongue can be caused by smoking, dry mouth, poor oral hygiene, yeast infection or medication use.”
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice. (Ayurveda is a traditional form of medicine that relies on natural healing and is one of the oldest health systems in the world. In a nutshell, what you do is use about a tablespoon of oil (Sesame or Coconut is recommended) and the oil is swished around in your mouth without swallowing for about 5 minutes. It’s then spit out and usually repeated. While there hasn’t been extensive research, in two studies I found*, results indicated: reduced plaque, reduced gingivitis and reduced bacterium Streptococcus mutans. For those who used coconut oil, the lauric acid in the oil was found to have antimicrobial properties.
Eating Breakfast, Mindfully.
Eating breakfast kick starts metabolism. Research shows that breakfast eaters have more energy, are leaner and healthier, have lower cholesterol, better ability to concentrate.** Sitting down to eat breakfast in a mindful manner aids digestion. Mindful eating means eating with awareness; awareness of your senses – what you are observing, smelling, tasting, the texture and taste of the food. For most people, this also means slowing down. It also means feeling truly nourished as a result. There are many good websites on the subject of mindful eating.****
There are many different types of meditations: breath meditation, guided meditation, progressive relaxation, mantra meditation, loving kindness meditation (to name a few). Adding just a few moments of meditation to your morning routine can provide a great start to your day. Regular meditation lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system, helps you to manage stress, and to reduce fatigue.
What is an intention? Deepak Chopra writes that, “An intention is a directed impulse of consciousness that contains the seed form of that which you aim to create.*** Intentions are not goals. They are heart centered desires that you wish to align with. Intention also does not mean “motivation”. Motivation is about the reason or reasons for the intention. You may be conscious of your motivation for your intention or you may not know; you may just know that it is a desire that is important to you. To set an intention, find a comfortable position, relax your body, take a few deep cleansing breaths. Ask yourself, “What is it that I desire for myself, for those I care about, and for the world?” Maybe it’s a word, like “Joy”, “Courage”, or “Peace”. It is best to revisit your intention at different times throughout the day. Perhaps you can set an alarm on your phone to remind you of taking a moment to re-focus on your intention for the day.
Dry brushing the body is an Ayurvedic practice. Did you know that 1/3 of your body’s toxins are excreted through the skin? Dry brushing is just what it sounds like. It helps to improve your circulation and unclog pores. There are many other claims such as improving cellulite that aren’t scientifically verified. However, what it does do is improve circulation, and unclog pores. It also feels good and stimulates the body. Apply a moisturizer afterward to retain that suppleness. Best types of brushes to use? A natural bristle brush, preferably with a long handle to brush the hard to reach places, and one with relatively firm bristles.
Walking can be an excellent component of a morning routine, and it’s even better if you can walk outside, says Porter: “Nature has a wonderful vital energy that we can benefit from. The plants are giving off oxygen. Plus we get a little bit of vitamin D, which is important for bone health and the immune system, and it may even help fight cancer and heart disease.” Another benefit of getting some sunshine is that sunlight helps regulate the pineal gland, which releases melatonin and helps us sleep better at night, adds Porter. It also decreases the stress hormones.
Are you a green juice enthusiast? I have to admit, I am. While I don’t advocate for rigid health plans (that cause more stress) for anyone. Making one small consistent change can be beneficial. In fact, 5 out of 5 experts, according to a recent Time magazine article recommend green juice. Juicing yourself or getting freshly made juice is best as it yields the highest health benefits. Fresh juices are very high in potassium (about 36% of your recommended daily allowance), 20% of daily vitamin A, they often contains 12 grams of natural sugar, no fat and 4 grams of protein. Some health professionals have cautioned about the “rush” of sugar to the blood steam. Provided your juice is made mostly from vegetables, this isn’t a true concern according to research by Dr. Lydia Bazzano from Tulane University. Fruit juices on the other hand are not recommended as they can pose an increased risk of diabetes. Green juice gets the go-ahead.
Here are just 10 great options to choose from when thinking of starting your day off with feeling
less harried and more centered. See what resonates with you. And, if you have a different
morning routine/ritual, do let us know and share it by leaving a comment below.
*One Big Caveat – This is worth repeating! I don’t promote perfectionism in any shape or form; but making small consistent changes that resonate with you, without judgment can assist you with reaping the benefits associated with the change.
The way to Creating your Health.
Christine Matteson, BC-DMT, LCAT, LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice with over 20 years of experience. She specializes in treating anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and issues related to grief/loss and managing stress. Looking to schedule a session?
*Two studies on the effectiveness of Oil pulling: Study 1. and Study 2. **For more information on the benefits of breakfast: click here. ***5 Steps to setting powerful intentions: click here. ****A resource to learn more about mindful eating: click here.