I am often asked about morning routines:
- Do you have one?
- Why does it matter?
- How do I start one?
Morning routines can be an important tool for success and productivity. Some common elements found in a morning ritual include: exercise, meditation, journaling, drinking water, and maintaining a gratitude journal.
MY MORNING ROUTINE
The very first thing I do each morning is say, out loud, “Today is going to be a great day.” This simple statement brings a smile to my face each and every time. It also helps me start my day with a positive attitude.
Over the past 5 years, I have been developing my "ideal" morning routine which includes stretching and meditation.
My entire adult life, I have tried to manage back issues. During stressful times, my back would often spasm, creating pain and sometimes significantly reduced mobility.
About five years ago, I started with a series of stretches to help strengthen my core and warm up my muscles. I do this before getting dressed and I don’t miss a day….ever.
By improving strength in an area of weakness, I have made myself less vulnerable to my back 'going out.'
In late 2013, I was inspired by Kelly McGonigal’s book, The Willpower Instinct and started meditating daily. In her book, she talks about meditation as a way to improve one’s focus. Prior to this, I had viewed meditation as a spiritual, zen-like practice. While that appeals to many people, it did not appeal to me.
The book suggests starting with ten to twenty minutes a day. I did not think I could sit still that long and decided to start with two minutes. I found a quiet place in my home and every morning (before getting dressed or eating breakfast), I sat and did my two minute meditation. I was simply doing a two-minute breathing exercise.
My goal was to focus on my breath and when my mind wandered (which is totally normal), I would try to let the thoughts drift to the side and pull my attention back to my breath. I was surprised at how difficult this was for me even though it was only two minutes.
After two and a half years of this, I was talking with a friend about meditation. She shared with me that she uses a meditation app called Insight Timer. This was a life changer for me. I had no idea how much easier it was for me to use a guided meditation!
I have gradually been working my way up from two minutes and am currently at a minimum of ten minutes each morning. When I have a little more time, I enjoy meditating for 13 or 14 minutes.
If you are thinking about giving meditation a try, here are my suggestions (but please remember, I am not a meditation expert):
- Start with an amount of time that will guarantee your success. No matter how busy you might be, you can always set aside two minutes.
- Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.
- Try and meditate at the same time each day.
- If simply focusing on breathing is challenging, try one of the guided meditation apps.
- You do not need to sit cross-legged on the floor; it’s important to find a comfortable position.
There is a reason it is referred to as the “practice” of meditation. Give it some time. For many people, they find two minutes feels like a lifetime. I promise that it gets easier, more enjoyable, and more effective over time.
From research and personal experience, I know that meditating is a great way to increase focus and enables you to be more productive with less stress.
Shawn Achor has one of the most popular TED talks: The happy secret to better work - that discusses the importance of a good attitude and it's connection to success.
According to Achor, daily routines that can help increase your positivity include: gratitude, journaling, exercise, meditation, and random acts of kindness. The fantastic conclusion he makes is that a positive brain is 31% more productive than one at negative, neutral, or stressed.
My 20 minute morning routine helps me feel more awake, grounded, and ready for a productive day. If you are new to having a morning routine, I suggest starting with one idea that seems appealing to you. Do it every day for a month and then add another small practice to your routine. Through trial and error, over time, you will create a morning routine that is magical for YOU!
I would love to hear about your magical morning routine - please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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